The Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law (CISRUL) studies life in the world of political concepts.  Our interdisciplinary centre examines how political principles function within and beyond the contemporary west. Concepts such as citizenship, civil society, and the rule of law are used as often by policy makers as by scholars. Core to CISRUL’s mission is informing academic and public debate on how they are used, and to what effect.

CISRUL brings together an extraordinary range of researchers, including PhD students, to study these and other political principles, including democracy, human rights and pluralism. We consider how they have been fostered historically, debated philosophically and in politics, fought over by social movements, codified in law, transmitted through education and the media, and lived out in everyday life. You can learn more about our events, past and present, here.

Please click on the dropdown menus below for information about CISRUL and our work:

[expand title=”Alumni”]Our alumni work in a number of different academic posts around the world. You can browse their profiles to learn more about their research interests, publications and where they are now.

Please view their individual profile pages to learn about their projects, and where they are now.

Dr Hanifi Bariş
Leverhulme Fellow
Dr Domenico Carolei
Dr Alexander Crawford
Dr Dikaia Gavala
Dr Anna Grudzinska
Dr Saerom Han
Dr Eve Hayes de Kalaf
School of Advanced Study, University of London
Dr James King
Dr Bisrat Lemessa-Kabeta
Dr Rose Luminiello
Dr Augustinus Mohn
Dr Joel Pierce
Dr Chuck Sturtevant
Dr Marek Szilvasi
Dr Ulisses Terto Neto
Dr Alena Thiel


[expand title=”Who we are”]

Founding members

Professor Karin Friedrich
Early Modern History
Professor Andrea Teti
Democracy, Democratization and Democracy-promotion
Professor Pamela Abbott
Qualitative and Quantitative Social Research
Professor Matyas Bodig
Legal Theory and Human Rights
Professor Brian Brock
Moral and Practical Theology
Professor Robert Frost
Eastern European and Scandinavian History
Dr Michael Laffin
Early Modern Political Theology
Professor Beth Lord
Early Modern Political Thought
Dr Denisse Román-Burgos
Social Anthropology
Dr Ritu Vij
Social Policy and International Political Economy
Professor Claire Wallace
Digital Economy
Professor Thomas Weber
History and International Affairs
Dr Hanifi Bariş
Leverhulme Fellow
Edward Thornton
Divinity, History, Philosophy & Art History

Current CISRUL faculty


[expand title=”PhD students”]Our PhD students represent a variety of disciplines, including sociology, law, race studies, international security studies, and history. Browse their individual profiles to learn more about their backgrounds, projects, and unique interdisciplinary contributions to CISRUL.

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 examines the education system of Islamic State, and the impact that living under Islamic State control has had on education more broadly. This project is supervised by Professor Pamela Abbott and Dr Rachel Shanks.



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 BrockProfessor 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

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 WallaceProf. 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”.

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.

Aditya Mohanty

Since 2012 Aditya has worked as an Assistant Professor of Development Studies at the Central University of South Bihar, Gaya, India. His PhD research project falls within the interstices of Urban Studies and Post-colonial/ South Asian studies. It aims to explore a) the tractions that new urban politics exerts on the subaltern groups and b) how that in turn recasts the contours of identity politics and processes of contentious politics.

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.

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

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.

Andreas Zaunseder

Interests: Historical, Political and Economic Sociology, Political Theory, Critical Theory, Alternative Economies, Cryptomarkets


[expand title=”Postdoctoral Researchers”]

Current postdoctoral researchers at CISRUL

Visiting postdoctoral researchers at CISRUL

Together with Denisse Román, 3 other postdoctoral researchers worked on the 2016-19 ESRC-funded CISRUL project, Activism in Regions of Crime-Related Violence and Institutional Fragility (see our project page for more information).


[expand title=”Prospective PhD Students”]To learn more about available funding and what opportunities are available to you as a potential PhD student, please click here.


[expand title=”Visiting Scholars”]

One of CISRUL’s core aims is to engage with scholars throughout the world and across disciplines.  To this end, we host visiting scholars throughout our annual seminar series, and we invite at least one prestigious scholar a year to come to Aberdeen and give a series of Guest Lectures.  In the past, we have hosted theologian Stanley Hauerwas, political theorist William E. Connolly, and sociologist Jeffrey Alexander.

For more information on our previous visiting scholars and their guest lectures, please see the dropdown menus for this page.

All upcoming visiting scholars will be noted in our Seminar Series schedule for the current year.

International Expert Advisors

The POLITICO International Expert Advisors (IEA) meet annually and review the overall progress of the doctoral programme.

The group will provide expert advice to the STSB to guide and inform the selection and training procedures implemented by the programme.