Centre for Contemporary Political Theory Research Seminar Series: POLIS PGR Panel

Join Sam Mace and Jack Simpson, postgraduate researchers in the School of Politics and International Studies, who will be discussing their research projects.

Sam Mace (Leeds)

‘Public Health Exceptionalism – Corona and Emergency Measures’ 


The state of exception has been described by scholars as being the expression of sovereignty through the exercise of power. The exercise of power through the exception has in both the case of Schmitt and Agamben existed outside of liberal democratic institutions but instead exists in the claiming and exercising of the decision. In Schmitt's case there has been a paradoxical nature to his work in the decision existing inside an established legal order as a recourse to solve emergency situations. This contrasts with Agamben who has argued the exception cannot be contained inside legal and parliamentary institutions due to the necessity of existing outside of them. 

The paper uses the Corona virus and the case studies of the UK and Hungary to deconstruct Agamben's claim that the exception necessarily cannot be contained inside liberal institutions. Both states have taken a different approach to the exercise of emergency powers which is symptomatic of their alternative visions of government. The paper focuses on the UK case study where the emergency restrictions taken by the executive have been constrained by Parliament using mechanisms such as time restrictions and Parliamentary votes to restrain the executive's emergency prerogatives. This is in contrast with an increasingly illiberal approach to government in Hungary where the imposition of emergency restrictions highlights the power of the executive.  


Sam Mace is a Postgraduate Researcher in POLIS and is currently completing his thesis on the exception and its relationship to sovereignty. 

Jack Simpson (Leeds) 

‘Globalisation and the role of the city (in preserving and expanding space for individuals' political autonomy)’ 


The twentieth century saw a rapid expansion of urban populations, both in relative and absolute terms. Despite this, and the fact that city and western political theory have a long interwoven shared history, the city is under represented in political theory. At the same time as this urban expansion, the world became more interconnected, saw more international trade and had a huge expansion of communicative capabilities. In short, the world became more globalised.  

This talk will argue that this shift, driven by a combination of ideology & technological development, poses a threat to political autonomy. In such an environment the city has an important role to play. In particular in terms of its ability to preserve and develop space for political autonomy. 


Jack Simpson is a Postgraduate Researcher in POLIS. He is currently completing his PhD thesis on the impact of globalisation on political autonomy, using the capability approach as his framework. Jack is on the executive council of the Human Development and Capability Association.

Meeting link  

The meeting will be held on Microsoft Teams, access the meeting.