Posted by: rogermitchell | November 19, 2015

The Love Politics Initiative (working title)

I am about to initiate a new phase of applied research into the politics of love in the context of the emerging new political space. I first blogged on this  a year ago on November 4th 2014 (see below). Then ‘the new politics’ was almost an unknown term, today it is everywhere. As I see it, if there was doubt then that there was real need for a new ethical politics there is none now.

As has been my practice over the last decade, this applied research will be in collaboration with the growing kenarchy research community that has been forming during that time. But there will be new partners too, because what is different now, and very encouraging, is  that the desire for populating this space with a politics of love is appearing simultaneously in a whole variety of networks and places. This has made clear that it is time to be more strategic in research focus and to make collaboration more deliberate and specific.

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to research in the context of the Politics, Philosophy and Religion Department at Lancaster University and to be able to offer the postgraduate certificate of accreditation in Political Theology for Peace via The Richardson Institute that is located there. They have just renewed my honorary research fellowship until October 2018. Next July we will be holding the annual conference of the British Sociology Association Sociology of Religion Study Group (Socrel) in the department, focusing on the power of religion in the public sphere and which will hopefully have a new politics element ( . There are other exciting developments in the pipeline.

However I’m convinced that what is also needed is a wider more relational research collaboration that recognizes the complementary opportunities offered by a number of different Universities, departments and institutes, and also the need for a support group that sees the relational deficit that the increasing commodification of higher education often causes and helps meet it in a way that’s for the good of the researchers, staff and academic institutions out there.

To this end a bunch of potential doctoral and postdoctoral researchers are meeting next weekend (November 27th-29th) with three objectives. i) to set out the practical research that needs to be done to bring a politics of love into a full-orbed body of work that can be culturally embedded in the newly emerging political space; ii) to identify research locations and potential academic supervisors where this could be pursued; iii) to raise a primary source of funding to undergird a three to five year research project; iv) to create a core relational and strategic research fellowship, taking the apostle Paul’s use of the Greek word koinonia, translated in English as ‘fellowship’ and which in Philippians 2 is aligned with love and kenosis. Some of us have been inspired in this by the achievements of the historical Clapham sect and the mythology of Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring!

An invited core is already in place for the coming weekend, but the plan is to then widen the collaboration with a meeting in February or March. So can I please ask for your help to carry this vision forward whether or not you are in the frame for the coming weekend, by inviting your comments along the lines of the following questions:

i) What do you think that a full-orbed applied research initiative in the politics of love would need to cover?

ii) Which locations and academic supervisors would you particularly recommend?

iii) Do you have any funding ideas or sources? – We are looking for primary funds that we can then make available for researchers so that they can submit proposals to the relevant institutions with their funding already in place, rather than them having to bid to academic and research agencies for funds from which only something like 6% of such bids are successful and relevant agencies often have criteria unsympathetic to a politics of love. Realistically a full time PhD costs £12,000 over three years in fees which with a contribution to living expenses of a further £12,000 per year comes to £48,000.  Full time post-doctoral research posts generally earn £24,000+ per year.  So we are looking for something in the region of £360,000 over three years to cover something like four doctorates and two post-docs, and including some shorter term postgraduate researchers in the field.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!






  1. I will be interested to hear where this leads. One of the reasons for doing my research into participatory development and how to bring that into mainstream development thinking is to see God’s kingdom manifest in the structures that determine the direction of change in a region.

    It is also fortunate that I can do the research from an Estonian University (Estonian University of Life Sciences) because that makes it far cheaper for me. I have lower living costs (I live in Latvia) and I do not pay fees. Unfortunately I am not sure about funding sources either. It is a continual gripe amongst many I come into contact with in the academic world.

  2. Thanks Joanna, It’s good to hear from you.

  3. I totally agree that the alignment of church and state since the 4th century has been in my words here ‘an unholy alliance’ and has been more anti Christ than Kingdom of God, as both the Church and the state have lived so much in each others pockets that it has become difficult to see a dividing line. Which is why I see the referendum as having absolutely nothing to do with true church/Christianity. Those who profess a faith in Jesus are now alive in the kingdom of God but living in the world and in particular those Christians who live in Europe are (still) part of the EU.
    In as far as the Eu doesn’t work against the ‘kingdom’ of God we can support it and likewise in as far as democracy doesn’t go against Kingdom values then we can support it. The democratic process of a referendum has exposed serious weaknesses in the EU, the British government and also sadly in the populous of Great Britain has shown us that there is a lots of deep seated unrest from the average voter to the members of all parties. I believe the most important input that ‘Christians’ can make is to help to draw both extremes into a middle ground of understanding ie: the leaver should begin to understand the remainer and V.V. If Christians get drawn to far in one direction or the other we will be unable to bring peace. Above we must love our neighbours what ever their persuasions what ever their color creed, race or politics.
    Do we support the remainers because not to do so could be disastrous economically and threaten European peace even though they lost the referendum? or do we support the Leavers because they won the referendum in a fair democratic contest/process? No we must try and understand and support both camps without judgement. There are good and bad reasons on both sides. However I don’t feel that as a Christian I can support the leaders of this country who have been proven to have lied to the British people and by doing so released a lot of the baser reactions that normally people try to control…Our involvement should be to support those on the side of truth and integrity regardless of their party politics. I feel there should be a General election and then another referendum but for now to interact with and offer support to those who are fearful, depressed and struggling with Xenophobia is the main task at hand. The country and the Govt. are like sheep with out a Shepherd..

    • I agree with trying to draw people together, not necessarily a middle ground though but possibly a new trajectory.

      I feel I need to pick up on one point and that is the point about the leavers winning in a fair and democratic vote. I am not so sure about it being fair when it has been shown that a lot of the points that people voted on were misleading but also I think it is important to bring out that it was a part of a process, something you hinted at. We often think of living in a democracy is about voting and that is the decider of the matter, but it is not the end of the matter by any means. Striving for change can go counter to the majority for a while before a tipping point is reached. The last week in British politics has sure shown us that a new way is definitely needed and so the democratic process is challenged and re-evaluated. Interesting times!

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