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The University of Southampton
Politics and International RelationsPart of Economic, Social and Political Science
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Dr Jonathan Havercroft PhD

Associate Professor in International Political Theory

Dr Jonathan Havercroft's photo

Dr Jonathan Havercroft is Associate Professor in International Political Theory within Politics & International Relations at the University of Southampton.

I am a Senior Lecturer in Politics and IR at the University of Southampton. My research lies at the intersections of international relations and political theory. I have published work on the historical development and transformation of state sovereignty, 17th century and 20th century political philosophy, space weaponization and security, global dimensions of indigenous politics and hermeneutics. My current research projects include work on the ethical dimensions of international norms, theories of political affect, and the role of agreement in democratic theory and practice. My book Captives of Sovereignty (Cambridge University Press, 2011) looks at the historical origins of state sovereignty, critiques its philosophical assumptions and offers a way to move contemporary critiques of sovereignty beyond their current impasse.

Research interests

My research engages in the critical analysis of key political concepts such as liberty, power, and sovereignty. I am motivated by the intuition that our contemporary languages of politics tend to be held captive by particular meanings of words such as liberty and sovereignty. I posit that this captivity limits both our understanding of fundamental concepts in political thought and the capacity of individuals and groups to act politically in innovative ways. I have developed a procedure to critique the limited and limiting political grammar that constrains our collective imagination. This procedure draws upon the philosophical writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Michel Foucault, and Stanley Cavell, as well as the methodological writings of Quentin Skinner. Generally, my work involves surveying the contemporary uses of a given political term to see how it limits contemporary political discourse. I then engage in a historical analysis of the development of the meaning of the term to address three issues:

  1. How is the contemporary use of a term the result of previous power struggles?
  2. How do these often forgotten debates inform contemporary theory and practice?
  3. How can an appreciation of a term’s past uses enable us to conceive of new ways of acting in the present? I have deployed this procedure in publications that have interrogated contemporary uses of liberty and sovereignty in such diverse areas as indigenous self-government, global democratic theory, and debates over space weaponization.

I am interested in supervising students in the fields of international relations theory and political theory, especially on projects that lie at the intersection of these two fields. More details about my substantive interests can be found on the research section of my profile. Please contact me if you would like to discuss a proposal for postgraduate research.

Research group

Political and Legal Philosophy

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Book Chapters



International Relations Theory UG PAIR 2001
One World, Many Theories PG PAIR 6001
Introduction to Security Studies PG PAIR 6002

MSc Supervision
PhD Supervision

Dr Jonathan Havercroft

Politics & International Relations, Social Sciences, University of Southampton Southampton SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number: 58/3077

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