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Antonio Cerella

Senior Lecturer

Social and Political Studies

Staff Group(s)
Politics and International Relations

Role

I am a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations in the Department of Social and Political Sciences at NTU, and a Research Associate of the Center for Advanced International Theory at the University of Sussex, UK. From 2015 to 2018, I was the Convenor of CRIPT–the British International Studies Association working group on Contemporary Research on International Political Theory. Currently, I am the Convenor (with Simon Choat) and Treasurer of the Political Thought Specialist Group of the British Political Studies Association (PSA).

After receiving a doctorate in Political Theory and International Studies from the Scuola Normale Superiore (2011), I was a Research Fellow at the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex (2011-12), a Lecturer in Politics and IR at the University of Central Lancashire (2012-17), and later a Senior Lecturer at Kingston University London (2017-2022). My field of expertise encompasses political theory and security studies. My work has been published in leading journals such as the Review of International Studies, TELOS, Security Dialogue, Millennium, and International Politics. I have co-edited six volumes, most recently The Sacred and the Political (Bloomsbury Academic, 2016) and Heidegger and the Global Age (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017). I have also authored two books, the most recent of which is Genealogies of Political Modernity (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020). My research has been supported by grants from the British International Studies Association (BISA), Lancaster University (Institute for Social Futures), and the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane (Florence).

Career overview

I studied Politics and International Relations for my undergraduate degree at the University of Bologna, Italy (2006), after which I won a fully funded Ph.D. scholarship in Political Theory and International Studies at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Istituto Italiano di Science Umane (Italy). Upon completion of my Ph.D. (2011), I took a postdoctoral research position in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex, UK (2011-12), followed by a permanent position as a Lecturer in Politics and IR at the University of Central Lancashire, UK (2012-17). Prior to taking up my post at NTU, I was a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Kingston University London (2017-2022).

My research and publications straddle the fields of social and political theory and security studies. My work has focused on two main areas: a) exploring – from a critical perspective – the new forms and dynamics of violence in global politics, with a specific focus on martyrdom, political sacrifice, and unmanned technologies (e.g. drones); b) revisiting some of the classics of social and political thought – such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Weber, Schmitt, Foucault, Habermas, and Heidegger, among others – to critically analyse the dynamics and political challenges raised by the process of globalisation: the problem of sovereignty and political order in the post-Westphalian age, the ethical foundation of the new order, the meaning and relevance of ethics in the age of globalisation. This research has resulted in four Special Issues I co-edited and contributed to of the Journal of International Political Theory, International Politics, Security Dialogue and the Journal for Cultural Research, and two edited volumes on The Sacred and the Political: Explorations on Mimesis, Violence and Religion(Bloomsbury Academic, 2016) and Heidegger and the Global Age (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017). I have undertaken an in-depth study of the conceptual foundations of modernity in my recent book, Genealogies of Political Modernity(Bloomsbury Academic, 2020).

My current research is devoted to the study of the ethical and political challenges posed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and to the transfers of meanings and narratives that take place between the religious and political spheres.

Research areas

I am a political theorist with interdisciplinary research interests in the relationship between politics, religion, and violence. My work has explored the transfers of meanings and narratives that take place between the religious and political spheres and the complex relationship between religious beliefs and contemporary forms of violence such as martyrdom and suicide missions.

I began doing research as a postgraduate student at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Italy. My initial research focused on the relationship between religious fundamentalism and political violence. Of particular interest to me was the ever fraught relation between religious worldviews and their worldly applications. In my dissertation, I have developed a neo-Weberian approach to make sense of the tensions between modern and traditional worldviews. I published parts of my dissertation in leading journals such as the Review of International Studies and Journal for Cultural Research. Upon receiving my doctorate (2011), I took up a Research Fellowship at the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex, UK (2011-12).

In September 2012, I was appointed as a permanent lecturer in Politics and IR at the University of Central Lancashire, UK. In this period my research interests broadened to include a more theoretically-informed understanding of religious conflict and violence. The content of this research was shaped by a few far-reaching questions, such as: why is religion often associated with violence in politics? What happens to politics in a ‘post-secular age’? What role should religious values play in public life? I have addressed these complex questions using the work of some leading theorists such as René Girard, Carl Schmitt and Jürgen Habermas. Following this line of inquiry, in May 2013, I organized an International Conference in which I introduced the work of the French theorist René Girard in International and Security Studies. This interdisciplinary engagement with Girard’s work led to the publication of an edited collection and a Special Issue of the Journal of International Political Theory.

In January 2014, I was elected national convenor of the British International Studies Association working group on Contemporary Research on International Political Theory. In this capacity, I have directed two research projects, organized 6 international conferences, and sponsored multiple panels at the BISA annual conferences. Of particular relevance was a project on the “States of Exception” that I co-led with Andreja Zevnik for three years. This project aimed at critically exploring – both theoretically and empirically – the variety of states of exception, by analysing their forms, meanings, and evolution. We conceived ‘exceptions’ both as historical phenomena and hermeneutical figures, spaces and times through which to reconsider the changing nature of politics and violence in the age of globalization. Given its interdisciplinary nature, the project was articulated over three years and around three main areas: 1. Figures. The Politics of Sacrifice: Martyrs & Migrants (University of Manchester, 2015); 2. Spaces. The Politics of Life: Drones & Lone Wolves (Lancaster University, 2016); 3. Times. The Politics of Time: Tortures & Deportations (Kingston University, 2017).

In February 2017, I was appointed Senior Lecturer in Politics and IR in the Department of Politics at Kingston University London. Since my arrival at the university, I developed an interdisciplinary research agenda by engaging in a number of international projects and collaborations. This work culminated in a series of major research projects and publications aimed at exploring the conceptual foundations of political modernity: Carl Schmitt, Political Theology and Modernity, Heidegger and the Global Age, and my recent monograph Genealogies of Political Modernity(Bloomsbury Academic, 2020).

In my most recent research, I have grappled with a range of problems connected with the ethical foundations of politics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), including problems pertaining to just war theory and autonomous weapons systems, theories of justice, sovereignty and political authority, and the changing character of political representation in the age of globalization. My writings on these subjects have appeared in a range of edited volumes and leading international journals, such as Review of International Studies, Security Dialogue, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, International Politics, Journal of International Political Theory, TELOS, and Journal for Cultural Research. Currently, I am working on a book manuscript titled Byung-Chul Han: Psycho-Politics and Social Burnout. In this book, which is under contract with Palgrave, I will provide the first critical introduction to the work of Korean-born German cultural and political theorist Byung-Chul Han.

My current research still broadly focuses on the relationship between religion and politics but is more devoted to the study of the ethical and political challenges posed by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and to the transfers of meanings and narratives that take place between specific religious and political spheres and concepts (e.g., sovereignty, authority, representation).

External activity

  • External Examiner, MA in International Relations, Regent's University, London (October 2021–)
  • Co-convenor and Treasurer of the British Political Studies Association (PSA) Specialist Group on ‘Political Thought’ (January 2020–)
  • Officer of the Association for Political Theory (APT) (January 2020–)
  • Member of the Advisory Board of the Philosophical Journal of Conflict and Violence (PJCV), since May 2017
  • Member of the  Northern Theory School (Lancaster University), since January 2015
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), December 2014
  • Associate of the Centre for Advanced International Theory (CAIT), University of Sussex, since September 2012
  • Reviewer for the Estonian Research Council (ETAg): evaluation of Mobilitas Pluss postdoctoral grant applications
  • Reviewer for ‘Routledge’, ‘Bloomsbury’, ‘Rowman & Littlefield’, ‘Anthem Press’, ‘International Relations’, ‘Journal of Political Ideologies’, ‘Millennium: Journal of International Studies’, ‘Security Dialogue’, ‘Politics, Religion & Ideology’, ‘Journal for Cultural Research’, ‘Journal of Classical Sociology’, ‘Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology’, 'British Archaeological Reports’.

Sponsors and collaborators

Current and previous sponsors include:

  • British International Studies Association (BISA)
  • Institute for Social Futures (Lancaster University)
  • Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane (SUM)

Current and previous collaborators include:

  • Professor Arthur Bradley (Lancaster University)
  • Dr Elisabetta Brighi (University of Westminster)
  • Professor Michael Dillon (Lancaster University)
  • Professor Montserrat Herrero (University of Navarra)
  • Professor Louiza Odysseos (University of Sussex)
  • Dr Fabio Petito (University of Sussex)
  • Professor William Rasch (Indiana University)

Publications

Books

  • Cerella, A. (2022) Byung-Chul Han: Psycho-Politics and Social Burnout. London and New York: Palgrave [under contract]
  • Cerella, A. (2020) Genealogies of Political Modernity. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic [288pp., ISBN: 9781350079489]

Edited Volumes

  • Cerella, A. and Odysseos, L. (eds.). (2017) Heidegger and the Global Age. London and New York: Rowman & Littlefield International [340pp., New Heidegger Series, ISBN: 9781786602305]
  • Cerella, A. and Brighi, E. (eds.). (2016) The Sacred and the Political: Explorations on Mimesis, Violence and Religion. London & New York: Bloomsbury Academic [288pp., Political Theory and Contemporary Philosophy Series, ISBN: 9781628925968].

Journal Special Issues

  • Co-editor (with Arthur Bradley) of the 2023 Special Issue of Political Theology on ‘The Political Imaginarium 1: Image–Object–Gesture” (accepted for publication and forthcoming)
  • Co-editor (with Arthur Bradley) of the 2023 Special Issue of Textual Practice on ‘The Political Imaginarium 2: Literature & Arts” (accepted for publication and forthcoming)
  • Co-editor (with Arthur Bradley) of the 2019 Special Section of Security Dialogue on ‘Drones in the House: Domestic Drones, Law Enforcement, Civil Resistance.’ July 2019
  • Co-editor (with Ernesto Gallo) of the 2016 Special Issue of International Politics on ‘Machiavelli and International Relations: Critical Reassessments.’ June 2016, 53(5): 157 pp.
  • Co-editor (with Arthur Bradley) of the 2016 Special Issue of the Journal for Cultural Research on ‘Carl Schmitt: Political Theology and Modernity’. September 2016, 20(3): 137 pp.
  • Co-editor (with Elisabetta Brighi) of the 2015 Special Issue of the Journal of International Political Theory on ‘Mimetic Theory and International Studies’. February 2015, 11(1): 164 pp.

Articles in peer-reviewed academic journals:

  • Cerella, A. ‘The Remains of Power: Meaning and Function of Regalia in Madagascar’. Political Theology (2022) https://doi.org/10.1080/1462317X.2022.2105281
  • Cerella, A. and Bradley, A. (2019) ‘Droneland: Towards a Domestic Drone Theory’. Security Dialogue online.
  • Cerella, A. and Harvey, A. (2019) ‘Dressing for a Machine-readable World: An Interview with Adam Harvey’. Security Dialogue online.
  • Cerella, A. and Gallo, E. (2016) ‘Machiavelli Reloaded: Perceptions and Misperceptions of the “Prince” of Realism’. International Politics, 53(5), pp. 435–46.
  • Cerella, A. (2016) ‘Encounters at the End of a World: Weber, Schmitt and the Tyranny of Values’. Journal for Cultural Research, 20(1), pp. 20–42.
  • Cerella, A. and Bradley, A. (2016) ‘The Future of Political Theology and the Legacy of Carl Schmitt’. Journal for Cultural Research, 20(1), pp. 1–12.
  • Cerella, A. (2015) ‘Until the End of the World: Girard, Schmitt and the Origins of Violence’. Journal of International Political Theory, 11(1), pp. 61–79 [translated into Arabic as حتى قيام الساعة: جيرار وشميت وأصول العنف].
  • Cerella, A. and Brighi, E. (2015) ‘An Alternative Vision of Politics and Violence: Introducing Mimetic Theory in International Studies’. Journal of International Political Theory, 11(1), pp. 3–25.
  • Cerella, A. (2014). ‘Postsecular Encounters in World Politics’. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 42(3), pp. 957–65.
  • Cerella, A. (2012). ‘Religion and political form: Carl Schmitt’s Genealogy of Politics as Critique of Jürgen Habermas’s Post-Secular Discourse’. Review of International Studies, 38(5), pp. 975–94.
  • Cerella, A. (2009). ‘Terrorism: History and Analysis of a Concept’. Trasgressioni, 49(3), pp. 41‒59 [in Italian].

Book chapters:

  • Cerella, A. (2017) De-Framing the Global. In: Cerella, A. and L. Odysseos (eds.), Heidegger and the Global Age. London and New York: Rowman & Littlefield International, pp. 1–24.
  • Cerella, A. (2017) Images of the World: Ontology and History in the Work of Foucault, Schmitt and Heidegger. In: Cerella, A. and L. Odysseos (eds.), Heidegger and the Global Age. London and New York: Rowman & Littlefield International, pp. 50–74.
  • Cerella, A. (2017) El umbral y el límite: Reflexiones sobre el sentido ético-político de la alteridad en la era global. In: Atienza de Frutos, D. and D. García-Ramos Gallego (eds.),La construcción de la identidad en tiempos de crisis.Madrid: Anthropos, pp. 41–65.
  • Cerella, A. (2017) Space and Sovereignty: A Reverse Perspective. In: Howland, D., E. Lillehoj, and M. Mayer (eds.), Art and Sovereignty in Global Politics.New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 31–57.
  • Cerella, A. (2016) The Power of Sacrifice: René Girard and the Political. In: The Sacred and the Political: Exploration on Mimesis, Violence and Religion. London & New York: Bloomsbury, pp. 1‒8.
  • Cerella, A. (2016) The Myth of Origin: Archaeology and History in the Work of Agamben and Girard. In: The Sacred and the Political: Exploration on Mimesis, Violence and Religion. London & New York: Bloomsbury, pp. 213‒36.
  • Cerella, A. (2010) Forms of Violence in the New International System. In: Costalli, S. and Moro F. N. (eds.), War Within the State. Forms of Violence in Interstate Contemporary Conflicts. Milan: Vita e Pensiero, pp. 17‒43) [in Italian].

Op-eds, Policy articles, Reviews:

  • Cerella, A. (2021) ‘Political Theology of International Order’. Contemporary Political Theory, https://doi.org/10.1057/s41296-021-00474-0
  • Cerella, A. (2021) ‘Homo Desiderans: A Review of the Government of Desire by M. de Beistegui’. Radical Philosophy, 2 (09), pp. 114–6
  • Cerella, A. (2020) ‘Sovereign Sacrifice’. Los Angeles Review of Books, 4 May 2020
  • Cerella, A. (2019) ‘On the Margins of Power’. Philosophy in a Time of Crisis, 15 March 2019
  • Cerella, A. (2018) ‘Spaces of Terror’. Los Angeles Review of Books, 4 June 2018
  • Cerella, A. (2019) ‘Review: Political Ontology and International Political Thought: Voiding A Pluralist World’. Contemporary Political Theory, 18, pp. 232–5.
  • Cerella, A. (2016) ‘The Globalization of Hate’. Los Angeles Review of Books, 5 December 2016.
  • Cerella, A. (2016) ‘Sacred Fires and Living Flames’. Los Angeles Review of Books, 2 September 2016.
  • Cerella, A. (2016) ‘The Dehumanization of the Enemy’. Los Angeles Review of Books, 1 May 2016 [translated into Portuguese as A desumanização do inimigo].
  • Cerella, A. (2012) ‘Common Ground between Faiths? Christian Democrats and Muslim Democrats in Dialogue’ (co-authored with Fabio Petito). Longitude 12(1), pp. 100‒6.

Translations:

  • Roberto Esposito, ‘Biopolitics and Coronavirus: A View from Italy’ (original ‘Biopolitica e coronavirus’), The Philosophical Salon, Los Angeles Review of Books, 31 March 2020.
  • Roberto Esposito, ‘From Outside: A Philosophy for Europe. An Interview with Roberto Esposito’ (original ‘Da fuori: una filosofia per l’Europa. Intervista con Roberto Esposito’), The Philosophical Salon, Los Angeles Review of Books, 11–18 July 2016.
  • Carl Schmitt, ‘The Changing Structure of International Law’ (original ‘Cambio de estructura del derecho internacional’, Madrid: Instituto de Estudios Políticos, 1943), Journal for Cultural Research, 20(3), 2016: pp. 310–28.
  • Ivan Illich, ‘The Obsession with Perfect Health’ (original: ‘L’obsession de la santé parfaite’, Le Monde diplomatique, March 1999), Journal for Cultural Research, vol. 21 (3), 2017: pp. 286–91.

Press expertise

  • Political violence
  • Ethics and politics
  • Political religion