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Claire Blencowe


Dr Claire Blencowe

Associate Professor of Sociology

Academic Returners Research Fellowship 2018/19

Formerly Director Social Theory Centre and Research Theme Lead: Justice, Authority & the Geopolitical


Room: E0.16 Social Sciences

Telephone: +44(0)24 761 51706


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I specialise in social theory and the politics of knowledge and culture in the context of modernisation, capitalist development and colonialism. My contribution to the discipline includes an innovative critical account of the role of values associated with evolution, creativity and vitality to the constitution of European political power and its attendant racism - primarily set out in Biopolitical Experience: Foucault Power & Positive Critique. It also includes collaborative work with the Authority Research Network to establish the interdisciplinary study of ‘emergent authority’, insisting on the continued significance of authority, culture and spirituality for understanding power relations and politics. This includes building transnational collaboration with scholars in Brazil, Ireland, USA and UK as well as creative and participatory research methodologies. With Anna Harpin in Theatre I currently hold an IATL academic fellowship to develop a community action project and postgraduate teaching, using social theory, applied theatre and creative practice to explore the social, collaborative and politico-economic basis of mental illness and healing under neoliberalism. I am also working on a mongraph that takes the history of transnational Christianity as a site to re-imagine materialist analysis of the relations between religion, racism, economics and authority.

Areas of Expertise: Social and Cultural theory; Michel Foucault; Creative and Participatory Methodologies; Political Sociology and Authority Studies; Religion, Capitalism and Colonialism; Political Spirituality/Spiritual Activism; Biopolitics.

New Book: Leila Dawney, Claire Blencowe & Patrick Bresnihan eds. Problems of Hope 

PhD Supervision

Sam Burgum (2014) 'Occupy London: Post-Politics versus Politics Proper in an Era of Consensus'
Morteza Hashemi Madani (2015) 'Social Theory and the Secular Fundamentalisms' (2015)
Leonardo Vasconcelos de Castro Moreira (2018) ‘The Universal Church of Kingdom of God in Madrid: A church without borders'
Wonseok Kim (2018) A Critical Investigation into the Discourse of Educational Neutrality in South Korea (1987-2017)'
Kathryn Medien (2018) 'Intimate Occupations: Sexualised Biopolitics in Colonised Palestine'

Current students:
Seb Rumsby 'Social Factors Affecting Economic Development in Vietnam's Highlands'
Paola Patino-Rabines 'Deviant Politics in Contemporary Peru: Aesthetic Transgressions and the Political Dispute over Diversitiy's Terms of Recognition'


I am passionate about teaching sociology. My teaching practice is bound up with my interests as a critical sociologist and social/political theorist - through teaching I strive to foster capacities for agency, critique and collaboration. In 2018/19 I am on the Academic Returners Research Fellowship and will not be teaching.



Research Groups & Leadership

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