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Theo Aiolfi - ECTF

After receiving a BA in International Relations from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and an MSc in Global Governance & Ethics from University College London (UCL), Théo joined the University of Warwick in 2017 where he started his doctoral research at the department of Politics and International Studies (PAIS). Working in conjunction with the department of Theatre and Performance Studies (TPS), his interdisciplinary research is located at the intersection of politics and performance studies. He is expected to defend his PhD at the end of 2021.


Exploring the concept of political style, how politics is being performatively produced by political actors, Théo’s doctoral research focused on the concept of populism. Challenging mainstream understandings of populism that define it as a (thin) ideology or a set of political beliefs, his thesis builds on the work of Laclau and Moffitt to develop an interdisciplinary definition of populism as a political style, an open-ended repertoire of political performances that articulate various conception of ‘the people’. In complement to the specialist literature on populism, Théo borrows the theoretical and methodological tools of performance studies to conduct a performance analysis inspired by Pavis, Taylor and Schechner. Focusing on right-wing populism, his thesis is a comparative case study of Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen during their presidential campaigns of 2016 and 2017 which examines the complex intersection between populism and nationalism.

He is the current co-convenor of the Warwick Performance and Politics Network (WPPN). In addition to populism, performativity and politics as performance, his research interests also include discourse and visual analysis, semiotics, popular culture, and theories of International Relations.


Before joining academia, Théo had accumulated several years of teaching experience in a variety of educational contexts across a number of countries (France, Switzerland, UK, Japan) as he successively worked as private tutor, teacher and language instructor.

In Warwick, Théo taught various undergraduate modules across multiple departments (PAIS, TPS, WBS), both as a seminar tutor and as a guest lecturer. He is also an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) since 2020. His teaching aims to be interactive, inclusive and student-centric. He particularly favours dynamic teaching activities inspired by theatre practitioners, role-playing exercises and references to popular culture.


Théo joins IATL in 2021 after being awarded a competitive IAS/IATL Early Career Teaching Fellowship, where he will develop both his teaching and research profile, focusing more specifically on the interdisciplinary component of his work. This academic year, he will prepare several articles publications and postdoctoral applications. He will also conduct a series of interventions as part of a non-modular teaching project on the topic of “Power in Motion: Style and Representation”, which will explore the multifaceted way power is being represented and symbolically mediated across society.