Dr Jonathan Dean

Dr Jonathan Dean


I specialise in four main inter-related areas: gender and politics, contemporary political theory, left-wing and radical politics, and politics and popular culture. All my scholarship and teaching is underpinned by a broad understanding of politics, faithful to the feminist insight that the “personal is political”, and sensitive to the crucial role that gender, race and popular culture play in shaping political practices and identities.

I came to Leeds in 2010, having previously held posts at the London School of Economics (Gender Institute) and the University of Essex (where I completed my PhD in 2007).

I am Co-Director (alongside my colleague Professor Cristina Leston-Bandeira) of the newly established Centre for Democratic Engagement, which seeks to examine the changing shape of political participation and engagement in times of crisis and change.


  • Academic Group Leader for Politics
  • Co-Director of the Centre for Democratic Engagement

Research interests

My current research examines the changing nature of left politics in contemporary Britain. I recently completed a research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, entitled ‘Left-wing Populism in an Age of Anti-Politics’, in collaboration with Bice Maiguashca (University of Exeter). The project aimed to map the nature and scope of Corbynism, the Green Party and left-wing celebrity activism, as well as intervening into theoretical debates about populism. I am also interested in the role of fandom, digital media and popular culture in the context of British left politics.

In 2013-14, I was awarded funding by the British Academy/Leverhulme Small Grants Scheme to carry out research on gender and feminism in British left-wing politics and activism, again in collaboration with Bice Maiguashca. In addition, I recently completed a small research project on representations of the history of post-1968 radical politics in media and academic texts. A paper on this topic – entitled ‘Tales of the Apolitical’ – was shortlisted for the 2014 Harrison Prize for best article in the journal Political Studies.

Further back, my ESRC-funded doctoral and post-doctoral research was published in 2010 by Palgrave Macmillan as a monograph entitled Rethinking Contemporary Feminist Politics. The book examines new forms of feminist politics and activism in the UK, offering a cautiously optimistic analysis of contemporary feminism, in opposition to the then widely held view that feminism was in decline.

All my research is underpinned by a commitment to interrogating and diversifying dominant understandings of politics. In so doing, my work engages with various strands of contemporary social and political theory including, but not limited to: feminism, Marxism and post-marxism, poststructuralism, discourse theory, existentialism and phenomenology, psychoanalysis, postcolonialism, cultural studies, intersectionality, critical race theory, queer theory, and the affect theory.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Professional memberships

  • Political Studies Association
  • Feminist and Women's Studies Association (UK and Ireland)

Student education

I teach on a variety of BA undergraduate modules in the broad field of political theory.

Research groups and institutes

  • Political Theory and Cultural Values
  • Centre for Democratic Engagement

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>The school welcomes enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>