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Claire Blencowe


Dr Claire Blencowe

Associate Professor of Sociology

For advice and feedback my students can book an online meeting with me here or drop by my office on Tuesdays 14.00-16:00 during term 2.


Room: E0.16 Social Sciences

Telephone: +44(0)24 761 51706


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Biography: Claire Blencowe is Associate Professor of Sociology. She joined Warwick in 2011 after spending a year lecturing social theory at Newcastle University, and completing her studies at the University of Bristol where her PhD on Foucault, race and biopolitical modernity was supervised by Thomas Osborne. She grew up in Cornwall on the edge of the Atlantic, which increasingly seeps its way into her research. Previous leadership roles at Warwick include co-directing the Social Theory Centre, leading the Justice, Authority and Geopolitics research theme, hosting numerous symposiums and PhD summer schools. In the current year she is serving as Postgraduate Taught Programmes Director, with Nisha Kapoor. She has two young children and lives in Bristol.

Research Statement: My work is driven by curiosity about the ways that power relations are embedded and transformed through practices of knowledge, systems of thought and structures of experience or ‘aesthetic regimes’. This underlies my creative and hopeful work towards developing participatory action research and collaborative theory-work as forms of disruptive and egalitarian democratic practice. It also underlies my critical explorations of political discourse, science, and religious thought, as sites through which the intersecting power structures of racism, coloniality, class-oppression and heteropatriarchy are reproduced. My current work in both respects centres on the relationship between religion and colonialism.

On the one hand, I explore the ways that coloniality and destructive civilisational discourses are produced in social theory, and political movements, through a kind of secularist policing of ‘proper’ knowledge. I have argued for the celebration of practices that validate and engage with the often embodied and spiritual knowledges of marginalised peoples that disrupt hierachies of 'proper' knowledge, disenchant secularism, and challenge racism. I have written about this in relation to ecological attunement, decolonial social theory, and problematics of hopeLink opens in a new window in the 21st century. These concerns inform my ongoing participatory action research with Redes de Mare, UFRJ & Cardiff University on embodied practices, knowledge and community amongst women who survive state-racism and its cascading violences in a favela complex in Rio de Janeiro.

On the other hand, I am exploring the role of past and present religious practice as a site through which colonial, imperialist, and extractivist economies are created and lived. My current book project – Spirits of Extraction: Chrisitanity, Settler Colonialism & the Geology of Race – explores the history of 18th and 19th century Evangelical Revival Movements and their complex relationship to the power and political economy of the British Empire. I explore how Methodist theology and affective investments contributed to carving out civilisational or 'cultural' racism, its role in establishing British control of mines around the world as well as settler colonial sovereignty. This builds on my previously published work on biopolitical structures of experience, biopolitical authorityLink opens in a new window, and on migrant child detention as ‘family debilitationLink opens in a new window’. But the questions have pushed me beyond the constraints of biopolitical theory to engage more deeply with the complex intersections of religion, coloniality and the earth itself, moving towards planetary materialism and geopolitics. 

Teaching: In 2023/24 I am teaching the combined Third Year/Postgraduate module Religion & the Planetary CrisesLink opens in a new window in Term 1, and the the second year core module Modern Social TheoryLink opens in a new window in Term 2.

Areas of Expertise: Social and Cultural Theory (feminist/queer/decolonial biopolitical theory; planetary materialism; post-structuralism & new materialism); Creative and Participatory Methodologies; Religion and Capitalism/Colonialism; Political Spirituality/Spiritual Activism; Religion and Ecologies.

PhD Project Supervision (past & present):

  • Yamin Chowdhary 'Imaginations of Sexual Citizenship: The Narratives of Homonationalism in India' (ESRC funded - Women & Gender Studies)
  • Sebastian Leyton Blanco ‘Race, decoloniality and the will for alterity: A critical-ethical approach to
    racial (de-)subjection and subjectivation in the modern state' (AHRC funded, Midlands 4 Cities, co-supervision with Philosophy Department)
  • Lizzy Le Quesne 'A Dance of Becoming: Skinner Releasing Technique (SRT), embodied emancipation and a dance practice of somatic autobiography'. (AHRC funded, Midlands 4 Cities, co-supervision with Ruth Gibson & Sarah Whatmore, Coventry University)
  • Dr. Paola Patino-Rabines (2022) 'Deviant Politics in Contemporary Peru: Aesthetic Transgressions and the Political Dispute over Diversitiy's Terms of Recognition'. (Warwick Chancellor's Fellowship, Women & Gender Studies)
  • Dr. Seb Rumsby (2020) 'Social Factors Affecting Economic Development in Vietnam's Highlands' (ESRC funded)
  • Dr. Kathryn Medien (2018) 'Intimate Occupations: Sexualised Biopolitics in Colonised Palestine' (ESRC funded, Women and Gender Studies)
  • Dr. Wonseok Kim (2018) A Critical Investigation into the Discourse of Educational Neutrality in South Korea (1987-2017)'
  • Dr. Leonardo Vasconcelos de Castro Moreira (2018) ‘The Universal Church of Kingdom of God in Madrid: A church without borders'
  • Dr. Morteza Hashemi Madani (2015) 'Social Theory and the Secular Fundamentalisms'
  • Dr. Sam Burgum (2014) 'Occupy London: Post-Politics versus Politics Proper in an Era of Consensus' (ESRC funded)

Post-doctoral Supervision (past & present):

  • Dr. Gala Rexer 'Entangled Reproduction: Life in the Wastelands of Racial Capitalism' - Leverhume Early Career Fellowship, 2024-2027
  • Dr. Joe Davidson 'Climate Catastrophe, Apocalyptic Futures, and Black Social Thought' – Leverhume Early Career Fellowship, 2022-2025.
  • Dr. Stephen Seely 'Participatory Differences: South Africa and the Politics of Sexual Democracy,' Reading four cases of sexuality politics in South Africa through the framework of 'southern epistemologies. Marie Curie- University of Warwick Horizon 2020 COFUND, 2017-2019