Academic Staff

Professor Aletta Norval

Position in department Pro-Vice-Chancellor Education
Staff positionProfessor; Consulting Editor, Political Theory
Telephone01206 874055
Office hoursBy appointment via email only. Please contact Sarah Harris or Abi Lower on

1993: PhD, University of Essex, UK
1986: MA in Ideology and Discourse Analysis, University of Essex (with distinction)
1984: MA in Politics, University of Johannesburg, South Africa (Research degree)
1981: BA Hons in Political Science (with distinction), University of Johannesburg
1980: BA in Political Science, University of Johannesburg


Single Authored Books
Aversive Democracy: Inheritance and Originality in the Democratic Tradition   (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. 289. (Currently being translated into Czech)
Deconstructing Apartheid Discourse (London: Verso, 1996), pp. 388.
Edited Books
Practices of Freedom: Decentred Governance, Conflict, and Democratic Participation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014) (Co-edited with S. Griggs and H. Wagenaar).
Discourse Theory and Political Analysis (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000) (Co-edited with D. Howarth and Y. Stavrakakis).
South Africa in Transition: New Theoretical Perspectives (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998) (Co-edited with D. Howarth).
Edited Issue of Journal
Reconsidering the Political (Oxford, Special Issue of the journal Angelaki, 1995), pp. 184 (Co-edited with D. Howarth).
Academic Journal Papers
‘”Writing a name in the sky”: Rancière, Cavell and the possibility of egalitarian inscription’, American Political Science Review (November 2012), pp. 1-17.
‘“Don’t talk back!” – The subjective conditions of critical public debate’, Political Theory, Volume 40 Issue 6 December 2012 pp. 805 - 813
‘Moral perfectionism and democratic responsiveness’, Ethics and Global Politics, Vol. 4 (4)(December (2011), pp. 207-229. [open access journal]
‘A democratic politics of acknowledgement: Political judgment, imagination and exemplarity’, Diacritics, Vol. 38 (4), 2010, pp.59-76.
‘Democracy, Pluralization and Voice’, Ethics and Global Politics, Vol. 2 (4) (December 2009), pp.297-320. [open access journal]
No Reconciliation without Redress’: Articulating political demands in post-transitional South Africa’, Critical Discourse Studies, Vol. 6 (4), (2009), pp.311-321.
‘Democratic identification: a Wittgensteinian approach’, Political Theory, 34, no. 2 (2006), pp. 229-255.
‘Hegemony after deconstruction: the consequences of undecidability’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 9, no. 2 (2004), pp. 139-57.
'Open citizens' juries and the politics of sustainability', Political Studies, 51 (2003), pp. 282-99 (with H. Ward, T. Landman and J. Pretty).
‘The things we do with words - contemporary approaches to the analysis of ideology’, British Journal of Political Science, 30 (2000), pp. 313-46.
‘Memory, identity and the (im)possibility of reconciliation: the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa’, Constellations, 5, no. 2 (1998), pp. 250-65.
‘Frontiers in question’, Acta Philosophica, 2 (1997), pp. 51-76.
'Decolonization, demonization and difference: the difficult constitution of a nation', Philosophy and Social Criticism, 21, no. 3 (1995), pp. 31-51.
'Minoritarian politics and the pluralisation of democracy', Acta Philosophica, XIV, no. 2 (1993), pp. 121-40.
'The post-structuralist conception of language and communication', Research Bulletin, 17 (1987).
'Die navorser-subjek verhouding en etiese probleme in kruiskulturele navorsing', (The researcher-researched relation and ethical problems in cross-cultural research), Research Bulletin, 14, no. 9 (1984).
'Die meting van politieke houdings in 'n kruiskulturele konteks' (The measurement of political attitudes in a cross-cultural context), Politikon, 11, no. 2 (1984), pp. 33-41.
'Ekonomiese en politieke wisselwerking in Suid-Afrika' (Economic and political interaction in South Africa), Development Studies Southern Africa, 6 (1983), pp. 3-26.
'Gatsha Buthelezi en die swart politiek' (Gatsha Buthelezi and black politics), Oenskou, 1, no. 8 (1983), pp. 13-17.
''n Kruiskulturele studie in politieke sosialisering' (A cross-cultural study in political socialisation), South African Journal of Sociology, 14, no.1 (1983), pp. 17-25 (with H.J.Kotze).
Review Articles
Discourse Analysis: Varieties and Methods’, in ESRC National Centre for Research Methods Review Paper, ESRC National Centre for Research Methods, NCRM 014, 2009 (with J. Glynos, D. Howarth and E. Speed)
‘Review Article: Truth and Reconciliation: the birth of the present and the reworking of history’, Journal of Southern African Studies, 25, no. 3 (1999), pp. 499-519.
‘The new democracy: feminism between multiculturalism and anti-essentialism’, Philosophy and Social Criticism, 24, no. 6 (1998), pp.133-9.
'Reconsidering feminism: postmodernity and/or postfeminism?', Social and Legal Studies, 5, no. 1 (1996), pp.113-9.
'Searching for a method in the madness: apartheid and influx control', South African Historical Journal, 29 (1993), pp. 234-245.
Edited Works: Contributions
‘Politics and the Political’, entry in M. Gibbons (ed.) Encyclopedia of Political Thought (forthcoming Wiley-Blackwell) (with D. Howarth)
‘Agonistic Democracy’, entry in M. Gibbons (ed.) Encyclopedia of Political Thought (forthcoming Wiley-Blackwell)
‘Imagining otherwise: Dislocation, subjectivity and the articulation of political demands’, in Lucy Koechlin and Till Forster (eds), The Politics of Governance (forthcoming 2014)
‘Practices of citizenization and democratic claim-making’, in David Owen (ed.) On Global Citizenship: James Tully in Dialogue (forthcoming 2014).
‘”Becoming black”: Acting otherwise and re-imagining community’, in Jakeet Singh & Robert Nichols (eds) Freedom and Democracy in an Imperial Context: Dialogues with James Tully (Routledge, forthcoming 2014)
‘Poststructuralist conceptions of ideology’, in Michael Freeden (ed.) Oxford Dictionary of Political Ideologies (2013, Oxford University Press)
Norval, A. and A. Abdulrahman, ‘EU democracy promotion rethought: the case of Egypt’, in M. Pace (ed.) Europe, the USA and Political Islam: Strategies for Engagement (Palgrave, 2011).
Norval, A. and I. Mijnssen,. ‘Dislocation in context’, in P. Casula and J. Perovic, (eds). Identities and Politics during the Putin Presidency: The Discursive Foundations of Russia's Stability. (Stuttgart: Ibidem-Verlag, 2009), pp. 39-46.
‘Passionate subjectivity, contestation and acknowledgement: Rereading Austin and Cavell’, in Andrew Schaap (ed.) Law and Agonistic Politics (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009).
‘Theorizing hegemony: between deconstruction and psychoanalysis’, in L. Tonder and L. Thomassen (eds) On Radical Democracy: politics between abundance and lack, (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005), pp. 86-102.
'Democratic decisions and the question of universality: rethinking recent approaches', in S. Critchley and O. Marchart (eds), Laclau: A Critical Reader, (Abingdon, Oxon.: Routledge, 2004), pp. 140-166.
‘Reconstructing national identity and renegotiating memory: the work of the TRC’, in T. Blom Hansen and F. Stepputat (eds) States of Imagination: Ethnographic Explorations of the Post-Colonial State, (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001), pp.182-202.
‘The politics of ethnicity and identity’, in K. Nash and A. Scott (eds) The Blackwell Companion to Political Sociology, (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), pp. 271-80. Revised edition 2012.
‘Radical democracy’, in Paul Barry Clarke and Joe Foweraker (eds) Encyclopedia of Democratic Thought, (Routledge, 2001), pp. 563-70.
‘Political frontiers’, in Paul Barry Clarke and Joe Foweraker (eds) Encyclopedia of Democratic Thought, (Routledge, 2001) (with David Howarth).
‘Trajectories of future research in discourse theory’, in D. Howarth, A.J. Norval and Y. Stavrakakis (eds), Discourse Theory and Political Analysis (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), pp. 219-36.
'Deconstruction and criticism', in I. Mackenzie and S. O’Neill (eds), Reconstituting Social Criticism: Political Morality in an Age of Scepticism (Houndmills, Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1999), pp. 67-81.
'Hybridization: the im/purity of the political', in J. Edkins, N. Persram and V. Pin-Fat (eds), Sovereignty and Subjectivity, (Critical Perspectives in World Politics, Series ed., R. Walker), (Lynne Reiner, 1999), pp. 99-114.
‘Rethinking ethnicity: identification, hybridity and democracy’, in P. Yeros (ed.), Ethnicity and Nationalism in Africa: Constructivist Reflections and Contemporary Politics, (Macmillan, 1999), pp. 81-100.
'Re-inventing the politics of cultural authenticity: the Freedom Front and the demand for a Volkstaat', in D. Howarth and Aletta J. Norval (eds), South Africa in Transition. New Theoretical Perspectives, (Macmillan, 1998), pp. 93-110.
'Thinking identities: against a theory of ethnicity’, in E. Wilmsen and P McAllister (eds), The Politics of Difference: Ethnic Premises in a World of Power (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1996), pp. 59-70.
'The politics of homecoming: contending identities in contemporary South Africa', in D. Howarth and Aletta J. Norval (eds), Reconsidering the Political (Oxford, Special Issue of Angelaki, 1995), pp. 157-70.
'The dichotomisation of political space and the crisis of apartheid discourse', in S. Nagel (ed.), African Development and Public Policy (New York, Macmillan, 1994), pp.128-54. [Also published in Laclau, E. (ed.), The Making of Political Identities (London, Verso, 1994), pp.115-37.]
'On South Africa', in E. Laclau (ed.), New Reflections on the Revolution of our Time (London, Verso, 1990), pp.135-57.


Making Claims: Radical democracy in a globalized world’. Keynote address delivered to ‘International Conference on Democracy, Human Rights and Social Justice in a New Global Dispensation. Challenges and Transformations’, University of South Africa, Pretoria, 1-3rd February 2010. Co-Organised by the National Research Foundation, SA, the Development Education Research Chair, UNISA and the Research School on Conditions of Democracy, Örebro University, Sweden. (Keynote address.)

‘Democracy, pluralization, voice’. Paper presented to ‘Democracy and the Deliberative Society’ conference, University of York, 24th-26th June 2009. (Invited paper)

‘Discourse analysis: Varieties and Methods’, ESRC National Centre for Research Methodology Discussion paper, 2009 (with J. Glynos, D. Howarth and E. Speed)

‘Passionate Subjectivity, Contestation and Acknowledgement’. Paper presented to the International Workshop on “Rhetoric, Psychoanalysis and Politics”, National University of San Martin, Buenos Aires 10th-16th May 2009. (Invited paper)

‘Rhetoricality, Democracy and Imagination: 13 Theses’. Paper presented to the Workshop on ‘Persuasion: Rhetoric and Politics in Contemporary Democracy’, Goldsmiths, University of London, 5th May 2009. (Invited paper)

‘Voice, subjectivity and the politics of democratic claim-making.’ Cambridge University, 29th April 2009. (Invited paper)

‘The Stakes of Democracy Promotion by the EU: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics.’ Conference on ‘Europe and Progressive Islamist Movements: Perceptions of Democratisation in the Middle East’, Friday, 6 March 2009 at the European Research Institute, University of Birmingham. (Invited paper)

‘Passionate Subjectivity, Contestation and Acknowledgement’, Department of Cultural Studies, University of Nottingham, 11th February 2009. (Invited paper)

‘Democratic Claim-making: The Khulumani case.’ Paper presented to ‘Justice for Apartheid Crimes: Corporations, States and Human Rights’ Oxford Transitional Justice Research, St. Anthony’s College, Oxford, January 2009. (Invited paper)

‘Passionate Subjectivity’, Keynote address, Conference on ‘Critical Social and Political Theory’, University of Victoria, Wellington, 14th December 2008. (Keynote address)

‘Dislocation’, Keynote address, Conference on ‘New stability, Democracy and Nationalism in Contemporary Russia’, Institute of Sociology, University of Basel, 26-27th September 2008. (Invited paper)

‘A Democratic Politics of Acknowledgement: Political Judgment, Imagination and Exemplarity’ APSA Boston August 2008.

‘Normativity, criteria and the imagination’, Round-table on ‘The place of normativity in political theory’, ‘Real and Imaginary: Alternative patterns of political thinking’, Day workshop organised by the Centre for Political Ideologies, Oxford, 9th January 2008. (Invited paper)

‘Making claims: the demands of democratic subjectivity’, Political Theory Seminar, University College London, December 2007 (Invited paper).

‘Beyond deliberation: agonistic and aversive grammars of democracy. A question of criteria’, ECPR Annual Conference, Pisa, September 2007 (Selected from abstract)

‘Passionate Subjectivity’, Interpretation in Policy Analysis: Research and Practice, Amsterdam, 31st May-2nd June 2007 (Selected from abstract)

‘Governance beyond the state: deliberative, agonistic and aversive grammars of democracy’ International Conference on Democratic Network Governance in Europe: Past and Future Research’, Roskilde, Denmark, November 2006 (Keynote address)

‘Marginalised Voices and the question of democratic community’ Public Lecture, Jointly organised by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Interdisciplinary Seminar Series, Stout Research Centre Seminar Series, and the Australasian Discourse Theory Summer School, University of Victoria, Wellington, New Zealand (Invited paper)

‘Democratic deliberation, argumentation and rhetoric’, ECPR Annual Conference, Budapest, September 8th - 10th, 2005 (Selected from abstract)

‘Democratic identification: A Wittgensteinian approach’, International Conference on Democratic Network Governance, Copenhagen, October 2004. (Invited paper)

‘Democratic identification’, Political Theory Colloquium, Northwestern University, Chicago, October 2004 (Invited paper)

‘Democratic Identification: A Wittgensteinian Approach’, Centre for Political Ideologies, Oxford, February 2005 (Invited paper).

‘Aspect dawning and aspect change: rethinking the formation of democratic subjects’, Sheffield Centre for Political Ideologies, May 2004 (Invited paper).

'Hegemony and deconstruction: a critical genealogy', Political Studies Association Conference, (Easter 2003) (Selected from abstract)

'The work of the TRC in South Africa: a post-structuralist approach', States of Imagination Conference, Copenhagen University, November 1998 (Plenary speaker)

‘Aporetic logics and democratic politics’, Conference on Politics, Friendship and Democracy to Come, Institute for Contemporary Art, London, November, 1997 (Plenary speaker)

'Deconstruction and Criticism', Conference on Reconstituting Social Criticism, Queens University, Belfast, June 1996 (Invited paper)

'Homi Bhabha, hybridization and the political', Sovereignty and Subjectivity Conference, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, September 1995 (Invited paper)

'The question of race and identity: understanding the white right in contemporary South Africa', Political Studies Association Conference, York University, April 1995 (Selected from abstract)

'Identity, hybridity and deconstruction', Deconstruction and Politics, University of Essex, October 1994.

'The politics of homecoming. Contending identities in contemporary South Africa', International Political Science Association Conference, Berlin, July 1994 (Selected from abstract)

'Images of Babel: politics and the language of identity', The Politics of Identity, Secular Criticism and the Gravity of History. University of Warwick, March 1994 (Invited paper)

'Against a theory of ethnicity: thinking social and political identities in a post-apartheid context', International Conference on Ethnicity, Identity and Nationalism in South Africa: Comparative Perspectives. Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, April 1993 (Invited paper)

'Feminism and Deconstruction.' Conference Across the Disciplines: what is feminist theory?, University of Essex, February 1993.

'Ethnicity and democracy in South Africa. A reply to Taylor', International Sociological Association Research Group on Ethnicity and the Nation State, Florence, Italy, May 1992.

'New times: the implications for socialism in South Africa', End of Marxism Conference, Birkbeck College, London, November 1991 (Invited paper)

'The dichotomisation of political space and the crisis of apartheid discourse', International Political Studies Association Conference, Buenos Aires, July 1991 (Selected from abstract)

Additional information

List of PhD students supervised:

Mohamed Reza Tajik PhD May 1996
Thesis title: Otherness and Identity: The Quest for a Final Vocabulary. Contemporary Islamism in Perspective

Nur Betul Celik PhD June 1996
Thesis title: Kemalist Hegemony: From its Constitution to its Dissolution

Sik-Ying Ho PhD January 1997
Politicising Identity: Decriminalisation of Homosexuality and the Emergence of Gay Identity in Hong Kong

Anthony Clohesy PhD March 1998
Continuity and Discontinuity in the Discourse of Provisionalism:1970-1988

Fatima Carvalho PhD April 2000
Continuity and Innovation: Television and New Forms of Conciliation in Brazilian Politics

Shu-Fen Lin PhD June 2000
Democratization in Taiwan Revisited (mid-1980s-mid 1990s): In Pursuit of a Radical Democracy

Bettina Von Lieres PhD March 2002
Marginalisation and Politics in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Adriana Gomez-Aiza PhD May 2002
Deconstructing Nationalist Representations of Mexican Identity: A Struggle for the Appropriation of Indigenous Symbols in Post-Revolutionary an Catholic Historical Narratives of Conquest

Carlos Pessoa PhD January 2004
Transformative or Conciliative: The Latter Phase of the Brazilian Workers’ Party

Ivan Gololobov PhD March 2005
Regional ideologies in Contemporary Russia: In search of a Post Soviet Identity

Kevin Adamson PhD March 2005
Socialism, Revolution, and Transition: The Ideological Construction of the Romanian Post-Communist Order

Mehmet Arisan PhD June 2005
The Significance of the Notions of ‘Lack’ and ‘Disavowal’ in Understanding the Construction of Modern Political Legitimacy in Turkey: An Exploration with a Particular Reference to Yakup Kadri Karaosmano€lu

Seth Hague PhD June 2005
‘The Way Out Must Lead In’: Performative Anti-Racist Politics in the US

Mark Wenman PhD June 2005
The Many and the One in Twentieth Century Political Pluralism

Emilia Palonen PhD March 2006
Reading Budapest: Political Polarisation in Contemporary Hungary

Zafer Yoruk PhD June 2006
Identity crisis in Turkey: A genealogical inquiry into the exclusion of the others (1985-2004)

Mette-Marie Roslyng Jensen PhD June 2006
Constructing Risky Food: An Analysis of the BSE and Salmonella debate in Britain

Victoria Squire PhD December 2006
The Securitisation of Asylum: A Critical Analysis of Policy and Practice in the UK Case

Michael Strange PhD July 2007
Understanding the WTO: Identity and the case of political campaigning critical of the GATS

Mercedes Barros PhD January 2008
The emergence and constitution of the human rights movement and discourse in Argentina

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