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Stuart Elden


Professor of Political Theory and Geography

Email: stuart dot elden at warwick dot ac dot uk
Tel: 02476 528 147
Room: E2.16, Social Sciences

Please note I am on a research fellowship and not currently teaching or holding Advice and Feedback hours.


In early 2023 the final book of the four-volume intellectual history of Michel Foucault's entire career, The Archaeology of Foucault, was published by Polity.

In December 2021 Stuart was awarded a Leverhulme major research fellowship to run for three years from 1 October 2022. The project is entitled 'Mapping Indo-European thought in 20th century France', and will look at both French and émigré scholars, with a particular focus on Émile Benveniste and Georges Dumézil, and discussions of a range of other thinkers including Mircea Eliade and Julia Kristeva. The work will use the extensive archives of Benveniste, Dumézil and Eliade, located in Paris and Chicago, and historically situate the work within wider debates about the politics, languages and geography of Europe. Planned outputs include a book and linked articles. The first output will be a revised critical edition of Dumézil's classic study, Mitra-Varuna: An Essay on Two Indo-European Representations of Sovereignty, for HAU books, forthcoming in 2024. An article on "Foucault and Dumézil on Antiquity" is forthcoming in the Journal of the History of Ideas.

book cover of On the Rural

In spring 2022, Henri Lefebvre, On the Rural: Economy, Sociology, Geography was published by University of Minnesota Press. Translated by Robert Bononno, it was edited and introduced by Stuart and Adam David Morton. It was part funded by a small grant from the ISRF (more here), as well as internal funds from the University of Sydney and University of Warwick.

Stuart's book The Early Foucault was published in June 2021. There is a short piece about the book at the Polity blog and a 10 minute lecture for the British Academy here. The first reviews are by David Beer at The Fragment and Michael Maidan at Phenomenological Reviews (both open access). There is also a discussion at the New Books in Critical Theory podcast.

In December 2020 Stuart discussed his book Shakespearean Territories with Dave O'Brien on the New Books in Critical Theory podcast, and The Early Foucault on the Hermitix podcast.

In May 2020 Stuart was interviewed by Nico Buitendag for the Undisciplined podcast [soundcloud]

In April 2020 Stuart was interviewed by Jonas Knatz and Anne Schult for the Journal of the History of Ideas blog (part 1 and part 2) about his work on Foucault.

In February 2020, Henri Lefebvre's book Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche or the Realm of Shadows was published by Verso. It was translated by David Fernbach with an Introduction by Stuart.

In May 2019 Stuart gave one of the keynotes to the Association of Philosophy and Literature conference in Klagenfurt, on "Foucault, Shakespeare and the Oath".

In March 2019, Stuart received a British Academy/Leverhulme small grant for archival work for his book The Early Foucault (full story here).


In February 2019 his study of French philosopher and historian of science Georges Canguilhem was published by Polity. There are reviews by David Beer at The Sociological Review and Steve Hanson at Manchester Review of Books (both open access).

Shakespearean Territories

Stuart's book, Shakespearean Territories, was published by University of Chicago Press in December 2018. You can read more about the book here; and a Warwick news story here. There are reviews by Karen Culcasi in Journal of Historical Geography (open access) and Sarah Dustagheer by Social and Cultural Geography (requires subscription).

Michel Foucault's Les Aveux de la chair - the fourth volume of his History of Sexuality - was published in February 2018. Stuart has provided some comment on the book for Warwick's news service, and has been quoted in The Guardian and The New York Times, among other reports. A full review essay is available at the Theory, Culture and Society website and journal.

In February 2017 Stuart delivered the London Review of International Law annual lecture on 'Legal Terrain'. The lecture was published in the journal in October 2017 (available here):

Foucault: The Birth of Power, was published in January 2017. Foucault's Last Decade was published in April 2016. There is a brief news story on the first book here, a blog post about the second here; and an essay on the books and their research at Berfrois.

Foucault's Last Decade is discussed at New Books in Critical Theory; with Peter Gratton, Eduardo Mendieta and Dianna Taylor in Symposium; in a shorter interview with Thomas Roueché in Tank Magazine; and with Antoinette Koleva in Foucault Studies. There are extensive review essays of both books in The Nation and in 3am Magazine. All are open access.


Two books by Henri Lefebvre were published in English translation in 2016. Metaphilosophy was published by Verso. Stuart edited the translation by David Fernbach, provided the notes, and wrote an introduction. Marxist Thought and the City was published by University of Minnesota Press. Stuart wrote a preface, and the book was translated by Robert Bonnano.

MetaphilosophyMarxist Thought and the City cover

In June 2015 Kostas Axelos's book Introduction to a Future Way of Thought: On Marx and Heidegger was published by Meson Press. Stuart edited the text and wrote an introduction. The book is available open access or print-on-demand.


In June 2015 a long interview with Stuart was published on the Theory, Culture and Society website. He also published a review essay on Foucault's 1971-72 lecture course at Berfrois.

In November 2014 he gave a public lecture at the Nottingham Contemporary gallery entitled 'Foucault. Subjectivity and Truth'.

In September 2014 he gave a lecture entitled ‘Crises of Territorial Integrity: Iraq and Nigeria’ as one of two keynote addresses to the ‘Identity, Sovereignty, and Global Politics in the Building of Baghdad’ conference, held at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.

In March 2014 The Birth of Territory was awarded the Association of American Geographers Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography. You can listen to an interview on the book on the Moncrieff show on Irish Newstalk radio here.


On October 16th 2013 Stuart was formally inducted as a Fellow of the British Academy, following his election in July. rscn0900.jpg

with Colin Crouch at the British Academy





Stuart Elden's research is at the intersection of politics, philosophy and geography. He undertakes this work predominantly through approaches from the history of ideas.

His work over the past decade or so has been in two main areas - the history, concept and practice of territory; and the history of twentieth-century French thought.

He is currently funded by a Leverhulme major research fellowship on a new project on Indo-European thought in twentieth-century France. The first output will be a revised critical edition of George Dumézil's classic study, Mitra-Varuna: An Essay on Two Indo-European Representations of Sovereignty, for HAU books. Extensive archival work in France is underway, with some work in the UK and plans for work in Switzerland and the USA. There are updates on the research and other information on a page of Stuart's blog, Progressive Geographies.

He is also working with Marie Satya McDonough (Boston University) and Stefanos Geroulanos (NYU) on a new translation and critical edition of Miichel Foucault's The Birth of the Clinic.

His most recent books are The Early Foucault and The Archaeology of Foucault , published by Polity Press in June 2021 and January 2023, which examine Foucault's largely unknown work of the 1950s, leading to his first major book History of Madness in 1961, and then the better-known work of the 1960s. The research has been conducted with archives in Paris, Normandy, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and the United States, and is funded by the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust. These two books continue the work of his earlier books Foucault’s Last Decade (2016) and Foucault: The Birth of Power (2017). The tetralogy provides an intellectual history of Foucault's entire career. More on the research can be found on Stuart's blog, Progressive Geographies.

His other recent books are Shakespearean Territories, published by University of Chicago Press in December 2018 and Canguilhem - a book on the French philosopher and historian of science Georges Canguilhem for Polity's Key Contemporary Thinkers series, published in February 2019.

With Adam David Morton he published a collection of translations of Henri Lefebvre's work entitled On the Rural: Economy, Sociology, Geography with University of Minnesota Press in 2022. As well as a translation of the first half of Lefebvre's book Du rural à l'urbain, the collection contains some related texts, including two little-known conference papers published outside of France. It has a substantial introduction and editorial notes.

Alongside these book projects, Stuart retains an interest in the question of territory, which in recent publications he has been thinking about in relation to the physical materiality of terrain.


Stuart has a BSc (Hons) in Politics and Modern History (1994) and a PhD in Political Theory (1999), both from Brunel University. His first post-PhD position was as a lecturer in politics in PAIS between 1999 and 2002; followed by eleven years in Durham University’s Department of Geography, where he was successively a lecturer, reader and professor of political geography. He rejoined PAIS in September 2013 as Professor of Political Theory and Geography. Between 2014 and 2019 he held an adjunct appointment as a Monash Warwick Professor in the Faculty of Arts at Monash University, Australia. In 2013 he was awarded a Doctor of Letters (DLitt) on the basis of publications post-PhD, and was elected as a Fellow of the British Academy (FBA).

In 2014 The Birth of Territory was awarded the Association of American Geographers Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography, and was joint winner of the inaugural Global Discourse book award. In 2011 he received the Royal Geographical Society Murchison Award for work judged to contribute most to geographical science in preceding years for 'publications in political geography'. In 2010 his book Terror and Territory: The Spatial Extent of Sovereignty won the Association of American Geographers Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography and the Political Geography Specialty Group Julian Minghi Distinguished Book Award.

Between 2006 and 2015 he was editor of Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, having previously served on the editorial board. He then edited the Society and Space book series with Sage. He has also been the review editor of the Review of International Political Economy, and was one of the founding editors of Foucault Studies. He is on the editorial boards of Theory, Culture & Society, Dialogues in Human Geography and Territory, Politics, Governance. He has served terms on the Advisory Council of Durham University's Institute of Advanced Study, the board of Geographica Helvetica and the Advisory Board of the Urban Theory Lab at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. At Warwick he is a member of the Centre for Research in Post-Kantian Philosophy, the Authority and Political Technologies research network, and an affiliated scholar of the Warwick Political Geography group.

He has held visiting posts at the Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia; School of Philosophy, University of Tasmania; Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles; Department of Sociology, New York University; Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, National University of Singapore; Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London; Department of Geography, University of Washington; the Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University; the Center for Urban Science and Progress at New York University; as a senior research fellow at University College London's Institute of Advanced Studies; and as a visiting scholar at ACCESS Europe at University of Amsterdam. In 2013 he worked with Al Quds Bard Honors College in Palestine as an International Scholar as part of the Open Society Institute's Academic Fellowship Program. In 2024 he will be a visiting fellow to the Remarque Institute at New York University.

Teaching and supervision

Between 2022 and 2025 Stuart is on a Leverhulme major research fellowship, and not teaching undergraduate or MA students. He has previously taught Political Theory from Hobbes, State, Power, Freedom: European Political Theory and the MA Burning Issues: Geopolitics Today seminar (website for Warwick internal use).

His PhD supervision has been on projects in political and urban geography; geopolitics; European political theory and philosophy; and the history of geographical and political thought.

Current researchers are Raffaele Grandoni (Philosophy, with Daniele Lorenzini). Mostyn Taylor Crockett (PAIS, with Daniele Lorenzini), Tommaso Caprotti (PAIS, with Matthew Watson), and Joe Grant (PAIS, with Miri Davidson).

Recently completed PhDs include Mariska Versantvoort (PAIS, with Greg McInerny and Caroline Kuzemko), Leo Steeds, Mara Duer, Lorenzo Vianelli, and António Ferraz de Oliveira (all PAIS), Tuur Drieser (Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies), Melissa Pawelski (Modern Languages and Cultures) and Ari Jerrems (Monash University).

He also worked as mentor for Parastou Saberi's British Academy Newton International postdoctoral fellowship.

Research interests

  • Over the past several years Stuart has produced a four volume series of books tracing the intellectual history of Michel Foucault's entire career for Polity Press - Foucault’s Last Decade, Foucault: The Birth of Power, The Early Foucault and The Archaeology of Foucault. The first, published in April 2016, discusses Foucault's work in relation to an intellectual history of his final project on the history of sexuality, using recently published lecture courses, unpublished work archived in France and California, and interviews. The second, published in January 2017, examines Foucault's early lecture courses at the Collège de France, and relates these to his work on prisons, asylums and health - both his academic writings and his activism. This book also makes extensive use of archival sources, especially the newly available material at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. The Early Foucault was published in June 2021, and explores what Foucault did before the History of Madness as well as how he wrote that book. The Archaeology of Foucault completes the series with a study of Foucault's work in the 1960s. The archival part of this research was supported by a British Academy/Leverhulme small grant. You can read more about the books on a page on his blog Progressive Geographies. As a side-project to this work, in 2019 he published a book on Georges Canguilhem - one of Foucault's mentors, and a significant historian and philosopher of the life sciences.
  • In 2018 Shakespearean Territories was published by University of Chicago Press. This book reads a number of Shakespeare's plays to examine different aspects of the question of territory - conceptually, historically, and politically. The argument is that while Shakespeare only uses the words 'territory' and 'territories' rarely, the concept is not marginal to his work. A number of his plays are structured around related issues of exile, banishment, land politics, spatial division, contestation, conquest and succession. Shakespeare was writing at the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth century: a time when the modern conception of sovereign territory was emerging. He therefore helps us understand its variant aspects, tensions, ambiguities and limits. In using these plays the aim is to illustrate the multi-faceted nature of territory as word, concept and practice, and to shed light on the way we understand territory and territorial disputes today. Again, you can read more about this project on his blog Progressive Geographies.
  • Recent work on Shakespeare has consisted of a series of papers which put him into conversation with Foucault around a number of themes. One piece on political ceremony was published in 2017, another on madness in 2019 in Foucault's Theatres. Three other pieces - on contagion, landscapes and the oath - were delivered as lectures in 2018 and 2019.
  • He has a long-standing interest in the work of the French philosopher and sociologist Henri Lefebvre. He has been co-editor or co-translator of several volumes of Lefebvre's work. This includes Key Writings, Rhythmanalysis, State, Space, World and Metaphilosophy. The most recent is On the Rural: Economy, Sociology, Geography, edited with Adam David Morton (University of Sydney) with University of Minnesota Press. He has also written a preface to the translation of Lefebvre's Marxist Thought and the City for University of Minnesota Press, and the Introduction to Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche or the Realm of Shadows for Verso. He also edited a translation of Kostas Axelos's book Introduction to a Future Way of Thought: On Marx and Heidegger for Meson Press (open access e-book, 2015).
  • He has also been developing themes from his earlier treatment of territory, especially in relation to the concept of terrain, understood as the materiality of territory – the forms, textures and processes that define particular spaces. Terrain is important in understanding territory because it combines materiality, strategy and the need to go beyond a narrow, two-dimensional sense of the cartographic imagination. Instead, terrain forces us to account for the complexity of height and depth, the question of volume. Terrain makes possible, or constrains, various political, military and strategic projects. It is where the geopolitical and the geophysical meet. All attempts at fixing territorial boundaries and shaping territories are complicated by dynamic features of the Earth, including rivers, oceans, polar-regions, glaciers, airspace and the sub-surface – both the sub-soil and the sub-marine. These complexities operate at a range of spatial scales, from the boundaries of nation-states to urban infrastructure projects. How can theories of territory better account for the complexities of the geophysical? His research on this topic has been funded by a Leverhulme Trust International Networks Programme grant for The Project on Indeterminate and Changing Environments: Law, the Anthropocene, and the World (the ICE LAW Project), led by Phil Steinberg at Durham University. Stuart lead the sub-project on territory. The first main statement of Stuart's work on terrain was delivered as the 2017 London Review of International Law annual lecture (video here) and published in the journal (available here). He delivered the Dialogues in Human Geography lecture on terrain at the Royal Geographical Society in August 2019 (audio recording here; and now published in the journal with responses and a reply).

Books and other publications

Shakespearean Territories was published by University of Chicago Press in 2018; Canguilhem by Polity in 2019. Foucault's Last Decade, Foucault: The Birth of Power, The Early Foucault and The Archaeology of Foucault were published by Polity Press in 2016, 2017, 2021 and 2023. His previous book was The Birth of Territory (University of Chicago Press, 2013), the product of several years of research including a Leverhulme major research fellowship.

Some pre-prints of forthcoming articles and chapters can be found here.

View Stuart's full list of publications

Progressive Geographies blog

He runs a blog at 

He was also one of the founders and long-term contributors to