Dr Alex Prichard
PhD (Loughborough University)
Senior Lecturer, Director of Education
Office hours for summer term: by appointment
My research sits at the intersection of IR theory, political theory and anarchist political thought. I am currently developing insights from my doctoral work on the international poltiical theory of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in two main areas. The first is to rethink the concept of anarchy in IR theory. The second seeks to uncover anarchist approaches to constitutionalisng. A large part of this first collaborative project has been published as a special issue of The Journal of International Political Theory. The second project was funded by the ESRC under its 'Transforming Social Science' funding scheme. In conjunction with Professor Ruth Kinna and Dr Thomas Swann at Loughborough University, and five partner groups around the UK, the project has produced innovative insights into horizontalist and radically participatory constitutional politics. You can find out more about the project here.
Alongside an edited forum on anarchism and IR, I have also co-edited two collections of essays on the historical and philosophical intersections between anarchism and Marxism. A third volume assessing anarchist/Marxist convergence in contemporary global social movements will be published by Globalizations in 2019.
In 2005 I co-founded the PSA Anarchist Studies Network, and in 2012 I also co-founded the monograph series 'Contemporary Anarchist Studies', first published by Continnum, then Bloomsbury, and now published by Manchester University Press. I have been an Associate Editor of Anarchist Studies since 2010.
Want to know how anarchists constitutionalise? Anarchic Agreements
- Anarchist political thought
- International political theory
- Theories of the ethics of war and violence
- Republican political theory
- Co-production as a method for political philosophy
I would be happy to supervise graduate and doctoral research in the following areas:
- Classical and Contemporary International Political Theory
- Mainstream and Critical International Relations Theory
- Anarchist Praxis
- The History of Socialism
- Normative Approaches to International Relations
- The History and Historiography of International Relations
- New materialist international and social theory
- Global ethics
I am happy to supervise doctoral research in all areas of IR theory and Political Theory.
Completed PhD supervision
- Biao Zhang, 'Reaon in International Relations: An Historical Image of the Discipline' (with Prof. Iain Hampsher Monk)
- Tatevik Mnatsakanyan, ‘Silencing and Binding Effects in Foreign Policy Discourse’ (with Dr John Heathershaw)
Current PhD supervision
- Andreas Karoutas ‘The minority-majority enigma: Resurrecting a political democracy' (with Dr Andy Schaap)
External impact and engagement
While anarchists have traditionally resisted the language of constitutionalising, our research has shown that anarchists implicitly use anarchy and its synonyms, like horizontality, mutual aid, to help shape the way they divide and balance power within those institutions, in other words, constitutionalise. I am developing a 4* impact case study demonstrating that the anarchist conception of anarchy we have developed has changed three third sector institutions in the UK and Denmark, helped shape the development of a university research institute in Exeter, and wider public debate in the UK, Australia and Estonia.
As part of our project, we worked with two organisations. The first is the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a registered revolutionary syndicalist union, with regional administrations in North America, across Europe and in Australia. The Bristol branch is one of the largest in the world. The second organisation, Radical Routes (RR), is a federation of fifty four UK worker and housing cooperatives that have adopted an explicitly anarchist constitution and bylaws. Our research with these two groups, and retrospective work on Occupy Wall Street and the UK Anarchist Federation, resulted in two coproduced reports: ‘Democracy and Participation in the Union’ with the IWW and ‘I’m not interested in giving housing to Nazis’ with RR, and a third activist-oriented pamphlet Anarchic Agreements, coproduced with Seeds for Change. The former prompted the development of two new elected posts within the IWW, to help facilitate a more diverse and egalitarian executive, and ongoing work to develop a more inclusive and participatory culture in the union. The second will result in a range of policy and institutional changes within RR, including a proposed shift away from the norm of consensus decision making.
An HEA impact grant enabled our work with Seeds for Change, an activist training centre, to co-produce Anarchic Agreements. This pamphlet provides a lay synthesis of our work on anarchist constitutional politics, and its value for radical groups everywhere. Over 1000 copies of this document have been printed and circulated, and have led to significant changes in numerous small and larger organisation. For example, Anarchic Agreements was picked up by Foodshare Copenhagen, who began as a small group of anarchist activists and developed into a network of 700 members distributing food to the poor and homeless in Copenhagen. Anarchic Agreements helped them develop a constitution for the group that respected their anarchistic politics, while delineating paid and unpaid roles and relationships within the network. Full written testimony available.
My research has also had impact in the context of the debate around Scottish independence and the place of Scotland in a post-Brexit Britain. Common Weal, a Scotland-wide a ‘think and do tank’ of activist groups, sprang up before and during the independence referendum campaign. Lacking a constitution that could link up the disparate network, while respecting their plural autonomy, they turned to us for support. This resulted in a survey of the membership, and a co-authored report, and recommendations. Our impact work with Common Weal is ongoing.
The interpretation of the significance of my research prompted intense media and public debate in Estonia in 2015. The Estonian Foreign Minister discussed my work on anarchism and international relations at the Lennart Mari conference, a high-level diplomatic conference in Tallinn. A media circus followed, where the virtues of an anarchist conception of anarchy for Estonian foreign policy were debated widely. I was labelled the Minister’s ‘anarchist muse’ by one supportive newspaper, but most were openly hostile. https://vm.ee/et/node/43332
Finally, the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter invited me to support a constitutional process to establish the governance structures of the institute. This constitutional process is on-going and promises a new and unique horizontalist feature of the GSI, setting it apart from similar institutes worldwide, and making its core mission of co-production and participation commensurate with its governance structures.
- PhD, Politics, International Relations and European Studies, Loughborough University (2008)
- MSc Econ, International Politics (Theory), Aberystwyth University (2003)
- MA Hons (by research), International Relations, University of Wollongong, N.S.W. (2001)
- BA Hons, International Relations, Nottingham Trent University (1994)
- LSE Fellow in International Political Theory (2010-2012)
- ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Bristol (2009-2010)
- Research Officer, EU FP7 Project, 'Building a Just and Durable Peace by Piece', University of Bath, (2008-2009)
- Teaching Fellow, International Relations, University of Bath (2008)
- Deputy director of the Centre for Advanced International Studies (CAIS), University of Exeter (2012-2014)
- Politics PGT Coordinator, University of Exeter (2013-2015)
- Programme Director for the MA in International Relations, University of Exeter (2012-2015)
- Founder and co-convener, PSA Anarchist Studies Network (www.anarchist-studies-network.org.uk) (2005-2014)
- Founder and co-editor, 'Contemporary Anarchist Studies' peer-reviewed monograph series, Manchester University Press (2012-)
- Associate editor, Anarchist Studies (2008-)