The School of Geography, Politics and Sociology

Staff Profile

Dr Stephen Seely

NU Academic Track Fellow (NUAcT)




I am a Newcastle University Academic Track (NUAcT) Fellow in the School of Geography, Politics, and Sociology. I earned my PhD in 2017 from the Department of Women's & Gender Studies at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, where I specialised in feminist, queer, decolonial/postcolonial theory and continental philosophy. Broadly, my work is concerned with counter-hegemonic ontologies and politics of sex/sexualities, particularly as these shape and are shaped by the rapidly mutating lineaments of global 'modernity' (e.g., racial capitalism, democracy, secularity, technology, forms of governmentality).


These interests have lead to research into the influence of technoscientific rationality on the conceptualisations of sex(uality) within Anglophone gender studies and the ways that this shapes its imagination of sexual futurities; political spirituality as an alternative to 'new materialist' turns to science in feminist and queer theory and as a way of linking the struggle for erotic transformation to decolonial, anticapitalist, and environmental struggles; and the possibilities of shifting the geographies of reason in sexualities studies by rethinking Euro-American queer and decolonial critiques of 'sexual democracy' from the perspective of the Global South.


My previous research has been supported by a Marie Curie Horizon 2020 COFUND grant (2017-2019) and stipendary fellowships from the Institute for Research on Women (Rutgers, 2012-2013), the Zentrum Gender Studies (Universität Basel, 2015), and the Institute of Advanced Study (University of Warwick, 2016). I have received awards from the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy (2014), the Luce Irigaray Circle (2014), and PhiloSOPHIA: A Continental Feminist Society (2015). My work has appeared in Sexualities, Feminist Formations, Social Text, Women's Studies Quarterly, and the Australian Feminist Law Journal, and my first book, The Spirit of Revolution: Beyond the Dead Ends of Man (co-authored with feminist philosopher Drucilla Cornell) was published by Polity Press in 2016. 




PhD, Women's & Gender Studies, Rutgers University 

MA, Women's & Gender Studies, Rutgers University

BA (Hons), Women's & Gender Studies and Media, Rhetorical, & Cultural Studies, The University of Illinois at Chicago


Previous Positions


Warwick Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (WIRL) Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick (2017-2019)


Visiting Positions


Visiting Researcher, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER), University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa (2019)


Visiting Fellow, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick (2016)


Visiting Fellow, Zentrum Gender Studies, Universität Basel (2015)



Research Areas

Critical social and political theory (feminist, queer, postcolonial/decolonial, European/continental); Gender and sexualities studies; Science and technology studies; International political sociology and global studies; Political spirituality and (post)secularism; Biopolitics, governmentality, political economy; Sexual democracy and erotic politics

Current Projects

I am currently working on two major projects: 

(1) I am completing the manuscript for my previous research project, 'Participatory Differences: South Africa and the Politics of Sexual Democracy,' which was supported by a Marie Curie Horizon 2020 COFUND grant at the University of Warwick. Reading four cases of sexuality politics in South Africa through the framework of 'southern epistemologies,' I reframe queer and decolonial critiques of the intersection between sexuality and democracy in modernity and argue for a rethinking of 'sexual democracy' as a praxis of participatory difference. The first publication from this research is forthcoming in Sexualities.

(2) As the core of my NUAcT fellowship, I will be undertaking a major 5-year project entitled 'Queer Commonwealth: Remapping Global Sexuality Politics,' which aims to provide a mapping of the new transnational sexuality politics—modes of governance and dissidence—emerging amidst shifting global assemblages of capital, nationalism, religion, and technology. The interdisciplinary mixed-methods project will have three phases, examining three scales: (1) the local, which will consist of field research in Nigeria, East Africa, India, Trinidad and Jamaica; (2) the global, which will analyse how these political formations, strategies, and concepts are circulating transnationally; and (3) the virtual, which will use innovative methods from digital studies to examine how technologies are facilitating new networks of political participation. This project will demonstrate the importance of sexuality as a driving factor in the rapidly shifting geopolitics taking shape in the ongoing global crisis of neoliberal democracy.

In addition to these projects, I am continuing my collaborative work with feminist philosopher Drucilla Cornell about political spirituality. Our next piece, 'Why Political? Why Spirituality? Why Now?' will be published in a forthcoming issue of the CLR James Journal on 'Decolonizing Spiritualities.' 

My personal website has more details about each of these projects




I am not currently teaching.


I would be eager to supervise postgraduate research in any of my research areas, particularly projects with strong theoretical components. I am especially keen to support interdisciplinary work.