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Cambridge Centre for Political Thought


The Directors of the Centre are Prof. Duncan Bell, Prof. Richard Bourke, Prof. Annabel Brett and Prof. Duncan Kelly. The Centre also draws on the expertise of the many scholars at Cambridge working on the history of political thought and intellectual history. For further details see the webpage of the Political Thought and Intellectual History Subject Group.


Prof. Duncan Bell (POLIS)

Professor of Political Thought and International Relations

Duncan Bell



Duncan Bell works on the history of nineteenth and twentieth century political thought, focusing in particular on British and American ideologies of empire and world order, as well as assorted topics in contemporary political theory and international relations. He is the author of The Idea of Greater Britain: Empire and the Future of World Order (Princeton, 2007) and Reordering the World: Essays on Liberalism and Empire (Princeton, 2016). His his most recent book is Dreamworlds of Race: Empire and the Utopian Destiny of Anglo-America (Princeton, 2020).

Prof. Richard Bourke (History)

Professor of the History of Political Thought

Richard Bourke                                  

Richard Bourke works on enlightenment and post-enlightenment political thought, with a particular interest in such topics as empire, sovereignty, nationalism, democracy, and the philosophy of history. His most recent monograph is Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke (Princeton, 2015).

Prof. Annabel Brett (History)

Professor of Political Thought and History

Annabel Brett                                  

Annabel Brett specialises in the history of political thought in the late medieval and early modern periods, with a particular interest in natural law and the Aristotelian tradition. Topics of research include the concept of rights and the limits of obligation, nature and the environment, politics and space, the history of international law. She is the author of Liberty, right and nature: Individual rights in later scholastic thought (Cambridge, 1997) and Changes of state: nature and the limits of the city in early modern natural law (Princeton, 2011).

Prof. Duncan Kelly (POLIS)

Professor of Political Thought and Intellectual History

Duncan Kelly


Duncan Kelly is interested in modern political and economic ideas and their intellectual history, and relatedly, how those histories might shed light on contemporary politics. His publications include The State of the Political (Oxford, 2003), and The Propriety of Liberty (Princeton, 2010), while his next book is Politics and the Anthropocene (Polity, 2019). Current research focuses on the following areas (i) The intellectual history of the First World War (ii) Political theory and political judgment (iii) Histories of the history of political thought since 1848.