Dr Laura Brace

Dr Laura Brace

Diversity Champion

Associate Professor


Contact details

  • Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2799
  • Fax: +44 (0)116 252 5082
  • Email: lb21@leicester.ac.uk
  • Office: Attenborough Tower 1007

Personal details


I studied at the University of Manchester for both my BA in Politics and Modern History and my PhD on ‘Tithes and the idea of property in seventeenth-century England’. I came to the University of Leicester in 1994, and have worked here as a Lecturer and then as an Associate Professor in political theory ever since.


  • PL2011 Political Ideas
  • PL3060 Feminism
  • PL3121 The Politics of Slavery



The Politics of Slavery (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2018)

Revisiting Slavery and Antislavery with Julia O’Connell Davidson (London, Palgrave 2018)

The Politics of Property (Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2004)

Book chapter and journal articles

  • ‘Wollstonecraft and the properties of (anti)slavery’, in Sandrine Berges and Alan Coffee (eds) The Social and Political Thought of Mary Wollstonecraft. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.
  • Reflections on the Good Citizen’, in Bridget Anderson and Vanessa Hughes (eds) Citizenship and Its Others. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
  • Community’ in Aoileann Ní Mhurchú and Reiko Shindo (eds) Critical Imaginations in International Relations. London: Routledge, 2016.
  • ‘Bodies in abolition: Broken hearts and open wounds’, Citizenship Studies 18:5, 485-498 (2014)
  • ‘Borders of Emptiness: Gender, migration and belonging’, Citizenship Studies 17:6-7, 873-885 (2013)
  • ‘Inhuman Commerce: Antislavery and the Ownership of Freedom’, European Journal of Political Theory 12;4, 466-482 (2013)
  • (2010) ‘The imprison’d absence of your liberty’: slavery, recognition and belonging’, in S. Thompson and M. Yar (eds) The Politics of Misrecognition (Ashgate)
  • (2010) ‘Improving the Inside: Gender, Property and the 18th-Century Self’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations 12:1, 111-126.
  • 'Rousseau, Maternity and the Politics of Emptiness' (2007) Polity, vol. 39, no. 3
  • 'The Social Contract' in G. Blakeley and V. Bryson, The impact of Feminism on Political Concepts and Debates (Manchester University Press, 2007).
  • 'The tragedy of the freelance hustler: Hegel, gender and civil society' (2002) Contemporary Political Theory, vol 1, no.3.
  • 'Husbanding the Earth and Hedging out the Poor' in J. McLaren, A. Buck and N. Wright (eds), Land and Freedom (Ashgate/ Dartmouth Press, 2001)
  • '"Not empire, - but equality": Mary Wollstonecraft, the marriage state and the sexual contract' (2000) Journal of Political Philosophy, vol. 8, no.4 
    (with Julia O'Connell Davidson) 'Minding the Gap: General and Substantive
  • 'Theorizing on Power and Exploitation' (2000) Signs, vol. 25, no. 4.


My research agenda focuses on the politics of property, and in particular on the connections between self-ownership, gender, race and empire. I have explored these most recently in my major new monograph for Edinburgh University Press, The Politics of Slavery. This focuses on the question, what does it mean to be a slave? It explores the place of slavery in the history of political thought, and asks what happens to conceptual history if we try to bring slavery back in. These themes have been further explored and extended in a new volume, edited with Julia O’Connell Davidson, Revisiting Slavery and Antislavery (Palgrave 2018), which came out of a British Academy Landmark Conference, Slaveries Old and New, which we organised in 2014. I have recently published a chapter on Wollstonecraft and slavery in a leading edited volume on her social and political thought, and a chapter on Wollstonecraft and the family will appear in a new edited volume, The Wollstonecraftian Mind in 2019.

Current research

I am currently exploring the debates over the meanings of JMW Turner’s 1840 painting, The Slave Ship and what they can tell us about the representation of slavery in the past and in the present. I am also focusing on the antislavery debates of 1792 to explore the limits of abolitionism, and thinking further about Mary Wollstonecraft’s political ideas and their relationship with modern feminism.

Recent research activities

I have recently been to see Turner’s painting in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where I visited the archive. I participated in the APSA Conference Mini-Conference on Democracy’s Discontents: Slavery, Race and Gender with an exciting group of Wollstonecraft scholars from around the world.

The department hosted an ESRC seminar series on the Politics of Victimhood in 2011, which built on my keynote lecture ‘The Opposites of Slavery’ at the Human Rights, Victimhood and Consent Workshop in Bergen, and my book chapter on slavery, recognition and belonging.


I am keen to supervise undergraduate and postgraduate students interested in political thinkers and their theories of property, especially Locke, Wollstonecraft and Rousseau, in slavery more generally (both past and present), and in feminist theory and practice.

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Contact Details

School of Politics and International Relations

University of Leicester
University Road
Leicester, LE1 7RH
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2702
Email: HyPIR@le.ac.uk


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