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Elphinstone Scholarship: Spinoza, Political Affect, and Political Decision-Making, University of Aberdeen, UK

Publish Date: Feb 19, 2016

Deadline: Apr 29, 2016

Study Level: Research Postgraduate

Subject: Philosophy
Politics & International Relations
International Relations
Cultural & Media Studies

Brief Description

The University of Aberdeen welcomes PhD research proposals under thetheme of Spinoza and Political Affect. Political affect has recently become an important topic in continental philosophy.


The philosophy of affect investigates what constitutes relations within and between bodies – physically, metaphysically, and socially – and how those relations determine action and thought. Its adherents seek to overcome the cognitivist model of the subject, and instead to understand subjectivity to emerge from these socially embedded and affectively interrelated bodies. The philosophy of political affect investigates how these relations, emergent subjectivities and processes determine political actions, decisions, and communities. This way of thinking draws on the work of Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, process philosophy, theorists of the embodied/embedded mind, feminist philosophy, and philosophies of the non-human. Many strands of this thinking are rooted in, and explicitly drawn from, the 17th century philosophy of Baruch Spinoza, with his theories of the individual, of collective bodies, and of power, conatus, and the affects being particularly relevant.

For Spinoza, Political Affect, and Political Decision-Making, PhD researchers are invited to develop a project on methods of political decision-making that draw on the philosophy of Spinoza and theories of political affect. The purpose of the project is to offer a critique of existing models of political decision-making and to develop new models based on recent theories of emergent, embodied, and socially embedded subjectivity. These will be investigated and explored with reference to (a) Spinoza’s philosophy of collective bodies, his denial of free will, and his theories of power and political organization; (b) recent philosophy of thought and action relevant to political affect, such as theories of the embodied/embedded mind, group psychology and collective action; (c) recent continental philosophy, such as Deleuze and Guattari’s theory of intensity; Foucault’s theory of biopower; Braidotti’s post-humanist feminist philosophy; and Hardt and Negri’s theory of the composition of political bodies. Projects may involve empirical research and/or case studies as relevant.

Though housed in the Philosophy department, this is an interdisciplinary PhD project. Researchers may come from different disciplinary backgrounds and will be expected to engage with relevant literature from various fields. Researchers will be expected to consider avenues and activities for impact and public engagement for their project.


Eligibility for an Elphinstone Scholarship is based on academic excellence. Applicants must have the equivalent to a UK 1st class or an Upper Second (2.1) Honours undergraduate degree and/or a Masters with Commendation/Merit or Distinction.

Application Procedure

Those interested are strongly advised to contact the main supervisor, Dr. Beth Lord, for an informal discussion prior to applying.

Further Info

For further information please contact Dr Beth Lord;

Application Docs

To apply for an Elphinstone PhD Scholarship, you should apply for a PhD via our online system, in the Programme Details Section:

  • Name of the lead supervisor in the Name of Proposed Supervisor field
  • Enter 'Elphinstone PhD Scholarship’ in the Scholarship/Studentship Title field
  • Name the project title in your Research Proposal and upload to the application Portal
  • Candidates should simultaneously register their desire to be considered by emailing the Graduate School Administrator, Ann Marie Johnston, at

This opportunity has expired. It was originally published here:

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Host Countries

United Kingdom