Dr Mark Devenney researches and lectures in contemporary politics and philosophy, and leads the programme of degrees in Humanities: History, Philosophy Culture and Politics.
Mark's research covers two primary areas: first, contemporary political philosophy, and second improper forms of political action including occupations, theft, squatting, and terrorism. .
His research in the first area situates relations of property and propriety at the centre of theoretical work. This entails drawing out the implications of the works of Ranciere, Adorno and Laclau but with a focus on how new forms of property delimit the possibilities of living equal lives. His research expertise covers Critical Theory (Adorno and Habermas) and contemporary Continental philosophy (notably Agamben, Hardt and Negri, Laclau, Ranciere, Derrida, Zizek and Badiou). He argues that while post-1968 critical theorists correctly rejected the economic determinism of Marx, they all too quickly forgot that relations of property still structure the inequalities intrinsic to global society.
This is complemented by work on the different ways of valuing life, whether actuarial, religious, ethical or otherwise. Mark Devenney has completed research on how the value of life is reflected in the uses and abuses of human bodies: torture; patening; suicide bombing; genetic engineering and the ethics of life/death decisions. He has recently written about the ab/use of ethical discourse in relation to life and death decisions, arguing (i) that suicide bombing should be understood as a symptomatic response to the dominant forms of valuing life, (ii) that property relations (notably abstract forms of property in the human body) are central to these dominant values, and (iii) that ethical debates about the value of life (abortion, euthanasia and end of life questions) are better understood as consequences of an emergent politics of the value of life.
Mark Devenney completed his PhD with Professor Ernesto Laclau at the University of Essex in 1998. His PhD concerned the politics of critical theory. It developed a critique of the political implications of the work of Habermas, Laclau and Derrida, and developed a reconstruction of their respective attempts to conceptualise subjectivity, democracy and ethics. The publication of his book Ethics and Politics in Contemporary Theory marked a critical intervention in debates between these traditions, refusing the all too quick polarisation of their positions.
Mark Devenney has presented this work at conferences, in summer schools and in the form of publication across the world. He has been a visiting lecturer at Victoria University, New Zealand, and at the University of Essex. He has also been invited to present papers in the United States, to be a keynote speaker at a conference on post-colonial politics at the University of Dunedin, and has given public lectures about the politics of suicide bombing.