The Politico programme has 11 Early Stage Researchers currently working towards their PhD.

Stephan Ritscher

Stephan Ritscher

Stephan was hired in the first call in October 2018 and studies political philosophy with a focus on the concept of the Political.

His PhD dissertation, supervised by Dr. Ritu Vij and Dr. Tamas Gyorfi, seeks to investigate the interdependencies between democracy and populism and how populists challenge the status quo by advocating a counter-hegemonic understanding of the people.

Valentin Clavé-Mercier

Photo - Valentin Clavé-Mercier

Valentin was hired in the first call in October 2018 and holds a B.A. in Political Studies and a M.A in Political Analysis from the Unirsidad Complutense de Madrid (Spain)

His PhD project, supervised by Dr Trevor Stack and Dr Ritu Vij, is focused on the concept of sovereignty and more exactly on the use, mobilisation and materialisation of this notion by Maori people in New Zealand.

Anna Sophie Lauwers

Sophie was hired in the first call in October 2018,  she completed her Research Master Political Philosophy at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium), where she wrote a thesis on Islamophobia and racism.

Her PhD project is supervised by Dr. Brian Brock, Professor Nadia Kiwan ,and Dr. Tamas Gyorfi and investigates to which extent political secularism in Europe is still influenced by its Christian past, and whether a potential Christian bias has (problematic) consequences for certain groups in European society.

Daniel Matthews-Ferrero

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Daniel was hired in the first call in October 2018, is a European Studies graduate (BA from the University of Kent, UK; MA from the College of Europe, Poland).

He is working on his PhD, under the supervision of Prof. Claire Wallace, Prof. Tom Weber, and Dr. Natasha Danilova, investigating the growth of populist movements in Western Europe and beyond as a reaction against liberal overreach at the “end of history”.

Marie Wuth


Marie was hired in the first call in October 2018. Her interests include political and social philosophy as well as affect theory and French theory.

Her PhD project takes a feminist-political stance on Spinoza’s relational ontology and epistemology in order to develop an affect theoretical account of political agency and political bodies building on and informed by Foucault, Deleuze, and Butler, supervised by  Dr Beth Lord and Dr Andrea Teti.

Elise Marie Boyle Espinosa

Elise was hired in our second call in September 2019. She has an interdisciplinary background in international studies and global development.

Her PhD project, will be extending this to the education system of Islamic State, investigating its impact on their governance and influence both during and after their territorial control in Iraq and Syria. This project is supervised by Professor Pamela Abbott and Dr Rachel Shanks.

Maxim Van Asseldonk

Maxim was hired in our second call in September 2019.

His project at POLITICO investigates what role the concept of political community may play in philosophical theories of civil disobedience, particularly in contentious circumstances such as post-conflict societies.
He is supervised by Dr Beth Lord and Dr Trevor Stack.

Fredericke Weiner

Fredericke was hired in our second call in September 2019. Her PhD research, supervised by Dr. Ritu Vij and Dr. Nadia Kiwan, she is investigating the Utopian potential of the Global Women’s March Movement. She studies the movement’s global interconnectedness as well as the concrete local activism to understand these glocalized processes.

She is supervised by Dr. Nadia Kiwan and Dr Ritu Vij

Jorg Meurkes

Jorg was hired in our second call in September 2019. His Phd project will investigate to what extent contemporary Spinozist and Nietzschean inspired conceptions of politics are at odds with Liberal-Kantian ones, and whether the former can be linked to a recent boom in speculative or ontological (i.e. anti-transcendental) philosophies. He will be supervised by Dr Beth Lord and Dr Ritu Vij.

Vicky Kluzik

Vicky was hired in our second call in September 2019. Vicky’s research PhD project traverses the ambiguities that the so-called platform economy poses to contemporary political systems. It will especially put a light on the margins of ‚glocalized’ digitally mediated labour, affective capital and valuation processes and how it puts individuals, civil society and governments under stress. She combines theoretical considerations from Foucault, Bourdieu, STS and feminist scholars with qualitative and explorative social science methods. She is supervised by Prof. Claire Wallace and Prof. Donald Hislop.

Dan Nguyen

Dan was hired in our second call in September 2019. Dan’s research project will examine the interaction of top-down and bottom-up processes at the micro-level of civic participation to explain how civil society becomes politicising in one of the most repressive countries in Southeast Asia. Dan is supervised by Dr Trevor Stack & Professor Pamela Abbott.

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 754326