Centre for the Study of Political Ideologies

Centre Members


Mat Humphrey

Professor Mathew Humphrey

Co-Director; Professor of Political Theory, School of Politics and International Relations 

Mathew Humphrey joined the School of Politics and International Relations in 1998, and was Head of School from 2012-2016. He is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Political Ideologies. His main research interests cover two overlapping areas. Firstly the study of ideologies and conceptual deconstestation, and how political ideas operate at the ‘everyday’ level, far removed from the sphere of professional political philosophy. The second area of interest is environmental politics, and he is currently involved in a Horizon 2020-funded research project looking at the feasibility of large-scale carbon capture and storage, working with partners in Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, and the Czech Republic, among others. He is also involved in research on public attitudes to shale gas extraction in the UK.

Key publications include Authenticity: the Cultural History of a Political Concept (with Maiken Umbach, Palgrave, 2018); ‘The Political is Personal: An Analysis of Crowd-Sourced Political Ideas and Images from a Massive Open Online Course’ Journal of Political Ideologies (with M. Umbach & Z. Clulow, forthcoming 2019); ‘Variation in beliefs about fracking between the UK and US Environmental Research Letters (with Evensen, D., Stedman R.C.,O’Hara, S.L and Andersson-Hudson, J, 2017); ‘Comparing the relationship between knowledge and support for hydraulic fracturing between residents of the United States and the United Kingdom’ Energy Research and Social Science (with Stedman, R.C., Evesen, D, O'Hara, S.L. and Humphrey, M., 2016).


Maiken Umbach

Professor Maiken Umbach

Co-Director; Professor of Modern History, Department of History 

Maiken Umbach joined the Department of History at Nottingham in 2011, after teaching at Cambridge and Manchester, and holding visiting appointments in the United States, Germany, Spain and Australia. Her work explores the relationship between political ideologies and cultural forms and practices, focusing on the role of visual and material culture in 'identity politics' in modern European history.

Recent publications include Photography, Migration, and Identity: A German-Jewish-American Story (with Scott Sulzener, Palgrave, 2018); Authenticity: The Cultural History of a Political Concept (with Mathew Humphrey, Palgrave 2018); Heimat, Region, and Empire: Spatial Identities in National Socialist Germany (with Chris Szejnmann, Palgrave 2012); and German Cities and Bourgeois Modernism, 1890-1930 (OUP, 2009). She is currently writing on the role of ideology and subjectivity in private photography in the Third Reich.


Management group

Katharine Adeney

Professor Katharine Adeney

Professor, School of Politics and International Relations

Professor Katharine Adeney holds a PhD in Politics from LSE. She joined the University of Nottingham in 2013 as a Professor, having previously held positions at Sheffield, Balliol College, Oxford and the LSE. Her principal research interests include: the countries of South Asia, especially India and Pakistan; ethnic conflict regulation and institutional design; the creation and maintenance of national identities; the politics of federal states, and democratisation in South Asia.

She is an author of two books, 'Contemporary India' (with Andrew Wyatt) (Palgrave, 2010) and 'Federalism and Ethnic Conflict Regulation in India and Pakistan' (Palgrave, 2007) and her work has been published in journals such as Publius, Political Studies, Commonwealth and Comparative Politics and Electoral Studies. She is co-editor of Government and Opposition (Cambridge).


Sascha Auerbach

Sascha Auerbach

Assistant Professor in Modern British History, Department of History

Dr Sascha Auerbach received his PhD in History from Emory University in 2001, and is currently a Lecturer in the History Department. He specializes in the history of modern Britain and the British Empire, with a particular focus on law and race in the late-19th and early-20th century.

His first book, Race, Law, and 'the Chinese Puzzle' in Imperial Britain, was published in 2009. A former Fulbright research fellow at King’s College London, his articles have appeared in the Journal of Social HistoryComparative Studies in Society and History, the Journal of British Studies, the Journal of Policy History, and The Historian.


Dean Blackburn

Dean Blackburn

Assistant Professor in Modern British History, Department of History 

Dr Dean Blackburn has been a Lecturer in Modern British History since September 2013. His research engages with the intellectual history of post-war Britain. It devotes particular attention to the dynamics of ideological competition and the way in which political parties and other institutions have modified their ideologies in response to changing environmental conditions.

His recent publications have explored British social democracy in the 1980s and the character of ideological competition that took place in the 1970s.


Ben Holland

Ben Holland

Assistant Professor in International Relations, School of Politics and International Relations

Ben Holland's research focuses on the intellectual history of the state and its interactions in the early modern period. He is currently working on a book examining the analogies upon which theorists of the state drew in working out what states were like. He is thus especially interested in how political discourse is often sustained by conceptual borrowings from other domains of human thinking.




Steven Fielding

Professor of Political History in the School of Politics & International Relations

Steven's research includes contemporary British political history, political parties, particularly the Labour Party, and fictional and dramatic representations of politics in the UK and USA.


Helen McCabe 

AHRC Research Fellow and Assistant Professor of Political Theory at Nottingham

Helen is part of and works closely with colleagues in the Rights Lab, one of Nottingham research beacons which focusses on research to identify and ultimately eliminating modern slavery.


Professor Michael Freeden

Emeritus Director; Professor of Political Theory

Michael Freeden was Professor of Political Theory at the School of Politics between 2013 and 2015. Prior to that he was Professor of Politics at the University of Oxford and Professorial Fellow at Mansfield College Oxford for over 30 years. Michael is the Founding Editor of the Journal of Political Ideologies.

He held an ESRC research professorship from 2004-2007, and in 2012 he was awarded the medal for science by the Institute of Advanced Studies of the University of Bologna, and the Isaiah Berlin Prize of the UK Political Studies Association for lifetime contribution to political studies. His work focuses on liberal thought, on the structure of ideologies, and on the nature of political thinking.


Joseph Askew

Joseph Askew

Assistant Professor in Modern History, School of International Studies, UNNC 

My research on ideology goes to the intellectual history of modern China and how that has influenced China's foreign policy. From the late Qing to the People's Republic, China has re-defined both what it is to be Chinese and what China ought to be.

While all the time resolutely maintaining a strong defence of the same borders. In my research, I attempt, by examining how Chinese people's views of themselves and their country evolved along with their political orientation, to follow and understand the twists and turns of China's foreign relations.


Nick Baron

Nick Baron

Associate Professor, Department of History

Nick Baron works on Russian and East European history and historical geography. Previous work includes books on Stalinism in a Russian region, Allied Intervention in the Russian Civil War, and East European population displacements following the First and Second World Wars. His current research project considers the cultural and political history of Soviet cartography under Lenin and Stalin.


Fintan Cullen

Fintan Cullen

Dean of Faculty of Arts and Education, Head of the Graduate School at UNNC and Professor of Art History at the University of Nottingham, UK

Professor Cullen has a long term interest in the relationship between visual production and political ideology. Latterly, this interest has focused on museums as sites for national aspirations and while in China (2012-15), he is carrying out some research on the display of newly created museum art in newly created museums.

At present, he is working on the China Art Museum in Shanghai and its specially commissioned artworks relating to Shanghai's history. As his specialism is western art history, this Chinese work will be firmly placed within a comparative framework where museum developments in China will be compared with how western museums have a used displays of national history in the past.


Rosaria Franco

Rosaria Franco

Assistant Professor in Modern European History, School of International Studies, UNNC

Dr Rosaria Franco's main area of interest is the social impact of migration and forced migration on communities variously defined (by nationality, class, race etc.), and the specific welfare provisions or relief arrangements for children. Such welfare or relief may be granted either as a matter of social rights (in stable national welfare regimes) or as application of universal children's rights under the banner of humanitarianism (at time of emergency, especially if political borders are crossed). 

All ideologies attribute a particular meaning to children as future citizens of the systems they aim at building ex novo or reproducing. However, the crossing of political or internal borders resulting from migration may affect children's citizenship and social citizenship or, if 'strangers', leave them in limbo. Relevant examples of such dynamics can be found in both the past and present. In her research, Dr Franco has explored the condition of the left-behind children produced by rural-to-urban migration in contemporary China, and she is working on the case of Chinese child-refugees in 1950s colonial Hong Kong.


Stephen Legg

Stephen Legg

Associate Professor, School of Geography

Stephen Legg is as Associate Professor in the School of Geography. His research focuses on the spatial politics of colonial India in the interwar period. He has published a book on urban governmentalities in Delhi as the capital of colonial India (Blackwell, 2007), has a forthcoming book on the regulation of prostitution in Interwar India (Duke University Press, 2014), and has edited a collection analysing Carl Schmitt’s Nomos of the Earth (Routledge 2011).


John Lowe

John Lowe

Associate Professor, School of Education, UNNC

John Lowe has a broad research interest in the relationship between society and the individual as mediated by education. Education is fundamentally ideological in nature, and it is a site of ideological competition in so many forms.

He has a particular interest in the formation of personal ideologies amongst Chinese youth at school and – most particularly – at university as an outcome of the ideological competitions within which they are enmeshed. Official curricula, social and commercial media, peer groups and parents are some of the key sources of ideological messages with which these students engage at a very important stage in their personal development.

He is currently exploring notions of 'identity formation' as a way approaching this process of personal 'ideological negotiation'. He is interested in using Margaret Archer's approach to the central sociological problem of ‘agency’ and 'structure', through her accounts of 'morphogenetic cycles' and the individual 'internal conversation'. In collaboration with colleagues in China, he has submitted an application for funding for a project aimed at tracing, understanding and theorising changes in the sense of identity among undergraduate students in China during their time at university.


Anthony McKenna

Anthony McKenna

EAP Tutor, Centre for English Language Education, UNNC

With a background in Film Studies, much of Dr Anthony Mckenna's research to date has been concerned with film production. His forthcoming edited collection, Beyond the Bottom Line: The Role of the Producer in Film and Television Studies (Bloomsbury 2014), contains his analysis of the recently retired head of China Film Group, Han Sanping. This essay focuses on the presentation of Party ideology through cinema in the years following the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

His current research concerns the quest to spread Chinese cinematic soft-power, and focuses on the PRCs recent attempts to win the Oscar for Best Foreign Film. His future research plans involve an investigation of the political and ideological implications of the recent movie co-production deal with the United Kingdom.


Stephen L Morgan

Stephen L Morgan

Dean of Social Sciences, UNNC and Professor of Chinese Economic History at the University of Nottingham, UK

His main research interest is the economic and business history of China, but he also researches contemporary Chinese business, economy and management. The last bears directly on questions of ideology. Throughout the 20th century many Chinese have been interested in the ideas of scientific management (科学管理) and rationalization (合理化) in the workplace and government, particular in the 1920-40s and since the 1980s. Their aspiration has been to encourage the adoption of new approaches to organization and management for the advancement of China.

In many ways, these ideas are ideologies about organisational governance, focused on technologies of control in the organisation. How such management ideas mostly from outside China are transferred, adapted and innovated upon is a complex process of iterative learning, and an intensely political process involving structures and practices of authority in the organisation, that can be conceived of as an ideological process as much as a practical process aimed at achieving efficiency and welfare gains for China.


David O'Brien

David O'Brien

Assistant Professor, Ruhr-Universitat, Bochum, Germany

My research examines the construction of ethnic identity in China with a particular focus on the Han and Uyghur ethnicities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The Chinese Communist Party adopted Stalin's definition of ethnic groups as historically constituted, stable communities of people formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture, and assigned ethnic identities to the various peoples living in China based on this definition.

Ethnic identity, to a large extent, only came into the defined existence that we know today under Communist rule. Yet these ethnicities have also been self-ascribed and exist as deeply-rooted conscious identities which have evolved over hundreds, indeed thousands of years of interaction among different groups living in the region. My work examines how these identities are in one sense the creation of an ideological system but also how their meaning only truly emerges from encounters, transactions, and oppositions between groups (Barth 1969).


Andrew Townsend

Andrew Townsend

Associate Professor, School of Education

Andrew Townsend is Associate Professor in Educational Leadership in the School of Education at The University of Nottingham. An ex-teacher Andrew is interested in the politics of the governance of education. He has a particular interest in how particular ideologically motivated approaches to the governance of education affects the ways in which schools interact with each other, and the resulting implications of this for the teaching profession.

Andrew is a proponent of action research in education and to that end is currently the coordinating editor of the journal Educational Action Research. He is also the author of the 2013 text Action Research: the Challenges of Understanding and Changing Practice, and co-editor of the book Action Research Innovation and Change: international perspectives across disciplines.


Benjamin Thomas

PhD student, School of Politics & International Relations

Benjamin is a Doctoral Researcher in the School of Politics and International Relations. His research project ‘Conceptualising Ideological Transition: Centre-right Neoliberalisation in the UK and West Germany’ develops a theory of ideological transformation by examining two cases of neoliberalisation in centre-right parties, the West German CDU 1945-1949 and the UK’s Conservative Party 1970-1979. This project draws on ideological morphology as well as conceptual, intellectual and political histories to examine ideologies in political and social context. Linking the contestations within parties conceptually and through the lens of ideology provides a new angle on these histories as well as the dynamics of parties and ideologies.


Yi Wang

Yi Wang

Assistant Professor in Travel and Tourism, Nottingham University Business School, UNNC

Yi's research focuses on tourism politics, governance and policy-making, and political economy in the tourism industry. In the tourism domain, many researchers believe that there is a "critical turn" in the theoretical application, which means the researchers look back at those traditional theories in social science, and critically review and apply them in tourism industry.

Yi’s main works develop from Giddens' theory, "structuration theory", and critically review this with many political ideologies, such as neo-liberalism and institutionalism. Therefore, her interests would lie at some critical thinking of relevant political ideologies, and applications in various contexts. She is using them in the tourism industry, and especially in China, where political ideology differs from the west. She would also be interested in discussing how political ideology interrelates with economic initiatives in various development processes.


Shixin Ivy Zhang

Shixin Ivy Zhang

Assistant Professor in Journalism Studies, School of International Communications, UNNC

Shixin Ivy Zhang takes journalism as an occupational ideology and examines the professional identity, values, ethics, perceptions of contemporary journalists and their news practices across multiple media platforms.

Her focus is on professionalization of Chinese journalists in the context of advanced information technology and fast changing society. She studies how journalists give meanings to their work and conducts comparative analysis between Chinese and Anglo-American journalism as a response to the call for de-Westernisation of journalism.


Xiaoling Zhang

Xiaoling Zhang

Head, School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, UNNC and Associate Professor in Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham, Ningbo campus

Xiaoling Zhang's research interest lies in the analysis of discourses of various kinds, vernacular or visual, in their political, social and cultural contexts in order to identify ways in which discourses become meaningful.

Zhang is most interested in examining discourses of the Chinese media since the early 1980s (from both the official mainstream media as well as the unofficial Internet-enabled social media) as significant sites where state and society are reproduced and/or challenged, where tensions arise over control of resources and space, as well as over definitions of culture, identity and progress.


Zhuang Meixi

Meixi Zhuang

PhD student, School of Contemporary Chinese Studies, UNNC

Zhuang Meixi's research interests include China's civil society, mediated public sphere and social transformation. She is also interested in cultural politics and modernity in post-revolutionary China. Her current PhD research focuses on the role of Zhejiang's civil monitory organization and its relationship with media and the party-state.


Khairil Izamin Ahmad

Assistant Professor, School of Politics, History and IR, UNMC

Khairil Ahmad holds a PhD in Political Theory from the University of Essex. He is currently Assistant Professor in the School of Politics, History and International Relations, University of Nottingham Malaysia.

Khairil’s research interests include contemporary ideologies and discourses, multiculturalism, politics of identity, and the relationship between faith and politics, which he analyses through the lens of poststructuralism. In addition, inspired by an “ontopolitical” spirit (to borrow William E. Connolly’s expression), he has a longstanding interest in thinking about how a normative yet interim poststructuralist political vision could be cultivated at the levels of everyday life and democratic institutions across different contexts.

In light of this, as a result of Malaysia’s 2018 change of government – the first time since it gained independence – Khairil is currently examining the attempts of the Pakatan Harapan (Alliance of Hope) government, an alliance of disparate ideological forces, to transform itself from its pre-election populist form to articulating a vision of order in a political landscape which has been gripped by a longstanding ethnicised narrative of nation building.



Centre for the Study of Political Ideologies

Law and Social Sciences building
University of Nottingham
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