Matthew Lowery

Matthew Lowery


I studied for a BA in Philosophy & Politics at the University of York between 2014-2017, graduating with first class honours with distinction in July 2017.

I then completed an LLM in Legal & Political Theory at the University of York, graduating in 2018 with distinction. I completed my Master’s thesis on “Carl Schmitt & Critical Theory: Bridging the Divide”, supervised by Dr Alasia Nuti, in which I argued that an engagement with Schmitt offers important resources for contemporary critical theorists in a range of areas. I focused on three areas in particular: The nature of democracy and politics; Liberalism’s relationship with reason and technology; and dictatorship, the rule of law, and the state of emergency. This therefore cut diagonally across the various intersections of jurisprudence, political theory, and philosophy. In order to achieve this and to develop these ideas, I put Schmitt into a dialogue with several other authors, from Jacques Derrida and Walter Benjamin to Giorgio Agamben, Slavoj Žižek, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer and many other thinkers in this area, to revise some aspects of Schmitt’s theory in a more progressive, emancipatory direction. 

I began my PhD at the University of Leeds in October 2019 on the POLIS department Research Excellence Scholarship.

Research interests

My PhD research builds upon the ideas and engagements developed in my LLM thesis, particularly my mounting reservations about the dominant approaches to political philosophy in the analytic traditions of Liberalism and Communitarianism. Against these traditions, as well as Marxism (which I nevertheless have sympathy with), my project represents an engagement with contemporary theories of radical democracy, particularly the agonistic democracy advocated by Ernesto Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, and William E. Connolly. Operating broadly within the politics of immanence found in Connolly’s work, I aim to re-read Connolly’s engagement with thinkers like Nietzsche, Foucault, and Deleuze in order to correct what I take to be limitations or deficiencies in his own approach to radical democracy. One of the central problems to be addressed is the role of contemporary capitalism in undermining the possibility of the ethos of critical responsiveness, engagement, and the process of pluralisation which Connolly advocates. This will also involve thinking through whether hegemony remains the best way of conceptualising the forces and movements of radical democracy, as well as engaging with new materialist philosophies in order to make clear the ontological commitments of such a project. By re-reading these thinkers along with and against Connolly, the aim is to recover the truly radical potentialities which have been smoothed over, paving the way for a radical democratic politics with genuinely emancipatory potential. 

More broadly, I have interests in the following areas:

  • Critical social theory
  • 20th century French philosophy
  • New materialism
  • Marxism and the Frankfurt School
  • Social philosophy
  • Critical legal studies


  • LLM Legal & Political Theory
  • BA Philosophy & Politics

Research groups and institutes

  • Centre for Contemporary Political Theory