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Professor Cécile Laborde FBA

Professor of Political Theory

Professor Cécile Laborde FBA
  • Name: Professor Cécile Laborde FBA
  • Position: Professor of Political Theory
  • Professor Laborde will be on research leave from UCL in 2015-16.
  • Room: 4.01, 29/30 Tavistock Sq.
  • Telephone: 020 7679 4945
  • Email:

Recent news

In July 2013, Cécile Laborde was elected as a Fellow to the British Academy. 

Religion and Political Theory Centre (RAPTc)

Cécile Laborde is the Director of UCL’s Religion and Political Theory Centre.

This is the home of the RAPT research project, ‘Is Religion Special? Secularism and Religion in Contemporary Legal and Political Theory,’ a 5-year-long project (2012-2017) funded by the European Research Council.

This project interrogates the special status of religion (ethics, epistemology and practices) in western political and legal theory, and assesses the normative implications of the contemporary shift towards ‘post-secular’ approaches for the relationship between politics and religion.


After studying political science in France, Cécile Laborde obtained a doctorate in Politics from Oxford University in 1996. She has held permanent posts in political theory at the University of Exeter and King's College, London. Her principal research interests are in the history of political ideas and contemporary political philosophy, both Anglo-American and European. She joined UCL in April 2003. In 2007, she was elected Associate Professor to the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. She spent the 2010-11 academic year in Princeton, as a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study.

Research publications

Cécile has published on theories of law and the state, pluralism, syndicalism, and on contemporary theories of nationalism, toleration, republicanism, multiculturalism, secularism and global justice. She is interested in the interplay between normative, critical and contextual theory, and in the methodology of comparative political thought. She has published 4 books and has written articles in major journals of political science and political theory, including Journal of Political Philosophy, Law and Philosophy, Journal of Legal Theory, British Journal of Political Science, Political Theory, Political Studies, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Boston University Law Review, European Journal of Political Theory and International Journal of Constitutional Law.

She recently published Critical Republicanism. The Hijab Controversy and Political Philosophy (Oxford Political Theory series, Oxford University Press, 2008) and Republicanism and Political Theory (co-edited with John Maynor) (Oxford Blackwell 2007). Her last book, entitled Francais, encore un effort pour devenir républicains! was published by Editions du Seuil in March 2010.

She’s currently writing a book entitled Liberalism's Religion for Harvard University Press.


Cécile has been involved in number of collaborative, international research projects, was the principal investigator of a British Academy Large Research Grant, and was awarded an AHRC Research Leave Grant to pursue her research on republicanism. She was awarded a major grant from the European Research Council in 2011 to work on the status of religion in legal and political theory.


She has been invited to give up to 60 talks at international conferences and university research seminars, most recently at Yale, Princeton, Louvain, Montreal, Brussels, Paris, Algiers, Beyrouth, Tel-Aviv, New York, Istanbul, Florence, Oxford and Grenoble (in conversation with Charles Taylor).


At UCL, Cécile Laborde teaches the following 4 courses: Meanings of Liberty. Applied Methods in Political Theory, which is the core course for MA LPT students; Equality, Justice and Difference; Republicanism and Liberalism: Historical and Analytical Perspectives; and the Peer-Assisted Learning (PAL) sessions in political philosophy. She is also the convenor of the PhD Political Theory workshops.

She is not teaching MA courses during the duration of her ERC grant (2012-2017).

Doctoral Supervision

  • Completed: Laura Valentini (2008), Meghan Benton (2009), Katerina Mantouvalou (2010), David Blunt (2012), Maeve McKeown (2014), Lior Erez (2014), Guy Aitchison-Cornish (2015)
  • Current: Sara Amighetti, James Shafe, Cristobal Bellolio, Jennifer Brown.

Related links

Live Publications Database

Main Publications

Single-Authored Books
  • Liberalism’s Religion. Under contract with Harvard University Press. 
  • Critical Republicanism. The Hijab Controversy and Political Philosophy. Oxford University Press, Oxford Political Theory series, 2008, 400pp.
  • Francais, encore un effort pour être républicains! Paris : Seuil, 2010.
  • Pluralist Thought and the State in Britain and France, 1900-25. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000.
  • La confrérie layenne et les lébou du Sénégal. Islam et culture traditionnelle en Afrique. Bordeaux : CNRS/CEAN, 1996.

Edited Volumes
  • Religion, Secularism and Constitutional Democracy (with Jean Cohen). New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming. 
  • Negotiating Religion (with Lois Lee and Francois Guesnet). Aldershot: Ashgate, forthcoming.
  • Republicanism and Political Theory (with John Maynor). Oxford: Blackwell, 2007. Read a review here:
  • Rawls in Europe. European Journal of Political Theory, Special issue, October 2002

Journal Articles
  • Religion and the Law: the Disaggregation Approach’, Law and Philosophy. September 2015. Open Access.
  • '‘What is a Free State? Republican Internationalism and Globalisation’ (with Miriam Ronzoni). Political Studies, Online Early View, 12 February 2015.
  • 'Dworkin's Religious Freedom without God', Boston University Law Review, 94(4): 1255-1271, July 2014. Translated by Serge Champeau ‘Dworkin, la liberté religieuse et la religion sans Dieu’, forthcoming.
  • ‘Three Theses about Political Theology. Some Comments on Seyla Benhabib’s ”Return of Political Theology”, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, forthcoming.
  • Why Tolerate Conscience?’ (with François Boucher), symposium on Brian Leiter’s Why Tolerate Religion?, Criminal Law and Philosophy, forthcoming. 
  • Equal Liberty, Non-Establishment and Religious Freedom’, Legal Theory, First View, March 2014, 1-28. Reprinted in Ferran Requejo and Camil Ungureanu, Democracy, Law and Religious Pluralism in Europe. Secularism and Post-Secularism. London: Routledge, 2014, 21-45.
  • ‘Political Liberalism and Religion: On Separation and Establishment’, Journal of Political Philosophy, Volume 21, Issue 1, March 2013, pp. 67-86 (Online View, 24 July 2011). Reprinted in Alan Carling (ed.) The Social Equality of Religion or Belief. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2015.
  • ‘State Paternalism and Religious Dress’,  International Journal of Constitutional Law, 2012, Vol. 10, No 2, 398-410. Reprinted in Naturalization Policies, Education and Citizenship: Multicultural and Multi-Nation Societies in International Perspective. Ed. by Dina Kiwan Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2013, 50-66.
  • ‘Rights, Wrongs, and the Right to Do Wrong. Jytte Klausen and the Political Theory of the Danish Cartoon Controversy’,  Perspectives on Politics, Summer 2011.
  • ‘What’s New, and What’s Different? On the Republican Contribution to Political Theory’, Transnational Legal Theory, 2011. 
  • ‘Republicanism and Global Justice: a Sketch’, European Journal of Political Theory, special issue on ‘Republicanism and International Relations’, January 2010 vol. 9 no. 1 48-69. Reprinted in Republican Democracy: Liberty, Law and Politics. Ed. by Andreas Niederberger & Philipp Schink. Edinbugh, Edinburgh University Press, 2013, 276-301.
  • 'Female Autonomy, Education and the Hijab', Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, Vol. 9, No. 3, September 2006, 351-377. Best CRISPP Essay Prize 2007
  • 'From Constitutional to Civic Patriotism', British Journal of Political Science, 32, 591-612, October 2002.
  • 'The Culture(s) of the Republic. Nationalism and Multiculturalism in Contemporary French Republican Thought', Political Theory, Vol 29, No 5, 716-35, October 2001 .
  • 'On Republican Toleration', Constellations. A Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory. Vol 9, No 2, 167-83, June 2002. 
  • 'The Concept of the State in British and French Political Thought', Political Studies, Vol. 48, 540-557, 2000.
  • 'Syndicalism against the State. Libertarianism in the Thought of Edouard Berth and his Contemporaries', The European Legacy, Summer 1998. 
  • 'Pluralism, Syndicalism and Corporatism. Léon Duguit and the Crisis of the State', History of European Ideas, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 227-244, 1996.

Book Chapters
  • 'Liberal Neutrality, Religion and the Good ', in Jean Cohen, Cécile Laborde (eds.) Religion, Secularism and Constitutional Democracy. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.
  • ‘Is Religion Special?’, in Jean Cohen, Cécile Laborde (eds.) Religion, Secularism and Constitutional Democracy. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.
  • 'Liberal Neutrality, Religion and the Good' in Jean Cohen, Cécile Laborde (eds.) Religion, Secularism and Constitutional Democracy. New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming. 
  • 'Is Religion Special?', in Jean Cohen, Cécile Laborde (eds.) Religion, Secularism and Constitutional Democracy. New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming.
  • 'Negotiating Religion in Constitutional Politics and Political Philosophy', in Negotiating Religion (Eds. Francois Guesnet, Cecile Laborde and Lois Lee). Aldershot: Ashgate, forthcoming.
  • ‘Relational Equality, Non-Domination, and Vulnerability’ (with Marie Garrau), in Carina Fourie, Fabian Schuppert and Ivo Wallimann-Helmer (eds.): Social Equality: Essays on What It Means to be Equals. Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming. 
  • ‘Protecting Religious Freedom in the Secular Age’, in Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Elizabeth Shakman Hurd, Saba Mahmood & Peter G. Danchin (eds.) Politics of Religious Freedom. Chicago: Chicago University Press, forthcoming. Also as ‘La liberté de religion à l’Âge séculier’, in Emmanuelle Bribosia & Isabelle Rorive (eds.) Accommodements raisonnables - Approche comparative Canada - Europe – Belgique. Brussells : Peter Lang, 2015, 29-42.
  • ‘Religious Accommodation and Inclusive Even-Handedness’ in Marie-Claire Foblets and Katie Alidadi (eds), Final Summary Report of the EU-funded Religare project, forthcoming 2014.
  • ‘Pour une laïcité critique’, in Sébastien Levesque (ed.) Penser la laïcité québécoise. Fondements et défense d'une laïcité ouverte au Québec. Montréal : Presses Université Laval. Reprinted in Jean-Paul Willaime, Denis Lacorne (eds.) Religion et Politique étrangère. Paris: Odile Jacob, forthcoming.
  • ‘La liberté de religion à  l’Âge séculier’, in Emmanuelle Bribosia & Isabelle Rorive (eds.) Accommodements raisonnables - Approche comparative Canada - Europe - Belgique, forthcoming 2014.
  • ‘Republicanism, Relational Equality and Global Justice’, in Jun-Hyeok Kwak & Leigh Jenco (Eds.) Republicanism in the Northeast Asian Context. London; Routledge, forthcoming.
  • ‘Laïcité, séparation, neutralité’, in Jean-François Dupeyron, Christophe Miqueu (eds.) Ethique et déontologie dans l’Education Nationale. Paris: Armand Colin, 2013, pp. 171-183. 
  • ‘Républicanisme critique et multiculturalisme libéral: réponse à Kymlicka’, in Sophie Guérard-Latour, Roberto Merril (eds.) Le multiculturalisme a-t-il un avenir ? Paris, L’Harmattan, forthcoming.
  • ‘Republicanism’ in Michael Freeden (ed.) Oxford Handbook of Political Ideologies. Oxford University Press, 2013. 
  • ‘Justificatory Secularism’, in Gavin D'Costa, Malcolm Evans, Tariq Modood, Julian Rivers (eds.) Religion in a Liberal State: Cross-Disciplinary Reflections. Cambridge University Press, 2013.
  • ‘Secularism and Fair Treatment for Muslims’ in M. Dimova-Cookson, P. Stirk (eds.), Multiculturalism and Moral Conflict. London: Routledge, 2009, 131-148.
  • 'Theorizing French Republican Secularism' in I. Honohan (ed.), Republicanism in Ireland and in Europe. Manchester University Press, 2008. 
  • 'The Contribution of Republicanism to Contemporary Political Theory' in C. Laborde, J. Maynor (eds) Republicanism and Political Theory. Oxford Blackwell, 2007.
  • 'Reflections on European Civic Patriotism', in Simona Piattoni and Riccardo Scartezzini (eds), European Citizenship: Theories, Arenas, Levels. Edward Elgar, 2007. 
  • 'Toleration and Laïcité', in Mc Kinnon, C, Castiglione, D., (eds) The Culture of Toleration in Diverse Societies. Manchester University Press 2003. 
  • 'Republican Citizenship and the Crisis of Integration in France', in Richard Bellamy, Dario Castiglione (eds.), Lineages of Citizenship (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2004), pp. 46-72
  • 'Penser l'Etat en Grande-Bretagne', in L'Etat de la République. Etat et administration en France, une histoire politique, 1880-1944, ed. Marc-Olivier Baruch, Vincent Duclert (Paris: Gallimard 2000) 
  • ‘The Reception of Rawls in Europe', in Cécile Laborde (ed.), Rawls in Europe. European Journal of Political Theory, Special issue, October 2002
  • 'Citoyenneté' in Christophe Prochasson, Vincent Duclert (eds.), Dictionnaire critique de la République. Paris: La Découverte, 2002. English translation in Edward Berenson, Vincent Duclert, Christophe Prochasson, The French Republic. History, Values, Debates. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2011.
Review essays
  • ‘Three Theses about Political Theology. Some Comments on Seyla Benhabib’s ”Return of Political Theology”, Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 17(6): 689-696, November 2014.
  • ‘Virginité et burqa: des accommodements déraisonnables? Autour des rapports Stasi et Bouchard-Taylor’, La vie des idées. 16 September 2008.
  • ‘The Danish Cartoon Controversy and the Challenges of Multicultural Politics’, Perspectives on Politics, 2011 (9), pp 603-605.
  • ‘What’s New, and What’s Different? On the Republican Contribution to Political Theory’, Transnational Legal Theory, Volume 1, Number 4, December 2010, pp. 639-644(6).
  • ‘Justice, Gender and the Politics of Multiculturalism’, Contemporary Political Theory, 8(3): 368-370. Aug 2009.

Shorter pieces
  • 'Do Not Let the Paris Murderers Win',
  • ‘Ne laissons pas les terroristes gagner’,
  • ‘Dialogue on the Impossibility of Religious Freedom’ (with Winnifred Sullivan), Quaderni di diritto e politica ecclesiastica (Rome). No, 1, April 2013, pp. 5-17.
  • ‘Laïcité: sur quelques dangers de la pensée binaire’, La Presse (Tunis), September 2011.
  • ‘Which Multiculturalism has Failed, Mr Cameron?’, Open Democracy, February 2011.
  • ‘In Defense of the Secular State’, RSA (Royal Society of Arts) Journal, July 2010.
  • ‘Quatre raisons pour ne pas interdire le voile intégral’, Le Temps (Genève), September 2010.
  • ‘Laïcité classique, laïcité ouverte, laïcité critique’, El Watan (Algiers). June 2010.


Also see the Religion and Political Theory Centre (RAPTc) website.

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