Professor Anne Phillips


Graham Wallas Professor of Political Science

Office: CON 5.07, Connaught House
Office Hours: Monday 15:00-17:00 (by appointment via LSE for You)
Tel: +44 (0)20 7955 6979



Anne Phillips is the Graham Wallas Professor of Political Science in the Department of Government.She joined the LSE in 1999 as Professor of Gender Theory, and was Director of the Gender Institute until September 2004. She subsequently moved to a joint appointment between the Gender Institute and Government Department, and later to a sole appointment in Government.

She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2003 and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 2013, She holds honorary degrees from the Universities of Aalborg and Bristol, and in 2016 received the Sir Isaiah Berlin Award for Lifetime Contribution to Political Studies. Her most influential work is The Politics of Presence: the Political Representation of Gender, Race, and Culture (1995). As well as engaging with issues of democracy and representation, she has addressed the relationship between equality and difference; the uneasy relationship between feminism and liberalism, feminism and multiculturalism; and the dangers in regarding the body as property. In recent work, she has returned to a research theme of her PhD thesis (published as The Enigma of Colonialism) to pursue the challenges of thinking political theory beyond the Euro-American axis. 

Research Interests

  • Feminist Theory
  • The Body
  • Multiculturalism and Cosmopolitanism
  • The Human and Humanism

Current work 

Professor Phillips’ most recent book is The Politics of the Human (Cambridge University Press, 2015), based on the Sir John Seeley lectures she gave at the University of Cambridge in 2013. She is currently exploring the relationship between Gender and Modernity.

Teaching Responsibilities

Featured Books

The Politics of the Human
Cambridge University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9781107475830

The front cover of 'The Politics of the Human'The human is a central reference point for human rights. But who or what is that human? And given its long history of exclusiveness, when so many of those now recognised as human were denied the name, how much confidence can we attach to the term? This book works towards a sense of the human that does without substantive accounts of 'humanity' while also avoiding their opposite – the contentless versions that deny important differences such as race, gender and sexuality. Drawing inspiration from Hannah Arendt's anti-foundationalism, Phillips rejects the idea of 'humanness' as grounded in essential characteristics we can be shown to share. She stresses instead the human as claim and commitment, as enactment and politics of equality. In doing so, she engages with a range of contemporary debates on human dignity, humanism, and post-humanism, and argues that none of these is necessary to a strong politics of the human.

Our Bodies, Whose Property?
Princeton University Press, Spring 2013 Princeton, USA. ISBN 9780691150864

Our Bodies. Whose Property? No one wants to be treated like an object, regarded as an item of property, or put up for sale. Yet many people frame personal autonomy in terms of self-ownership, representing themselves as property owners with the right to do as they wish with their bodies. Others do not use the language of property, but are similarly insistent on the rights of free individuals to decide for themselves whether to engage in commercial transactions for sex, reproduction, or organ sales. Drawing on analyses of rape, surrogacy, and markets in human organs, Our Bodies, Whose Property? challenges notions of freedom based on ownership of our bodies and argues against the normalization of markets in bodily services and parts. Anne Phillips explores the risks associated with metaphors of property and reasons why the commodification of the body remains problematic.

What, she asks, is wrong with thinking of oneself as the owner of one’s body? What is wrong with making our bodies available for rent or sale? What, if anything, is the difference between markets in sex, reproduction, or human body parts, and the other markets we commonly applaud?

Phillips contends that body markets occupy the outer edges of a continuum that is, in some way, a feature of all labor markets. But she also stresses the fact that we all have bodies, and considers the implications of this otherwise banal fact for equality. Bodies remind us of shared vulnerability, alerting us to the common experience of living as embodied beings in the same world.

Examining the complex issue of body exceptionalism, Our Bodies, Whose Property? demonstrates that treating the body as property makes human equality harder to comprehend.

Gender and Culture
Polity Press, Cambridge, 2010

Gender and CultureThe idea that respect for cultural diversity conflicts with gender equality is now a staple of both public and academic debate. Yet discussion of these tensions is marred by exaggerated talk of cultural difference, leading to ethnic reductionism, cultural stereotyping, and a hierarchy of traditional and modern. In this volume, Anne Phillips firmly rejects the notion that 'culture' might justify the oppression of women, but also queries the stereotypical binaries that have represented people from ethnocultural minorities as peculiarly resistant to gender equality.

The questions addressed include the relationship between universalism and cultural relativism, how to distinguish valid generalisation from either gender or cultural essentialism, and how to recognise women as agents rather than captives of culture. The discussions are illuminated by reference to legal cases and policy interventions, with a particular focus on forced marriage and cultural defence.


‘What Makes Culture Special?’ (Anne Phillips, forthcoming 2017) Political Theory

'Exploitation, Commodification,Inequality’ (Anne Phillips, forthcoming 2017)  in M Deveaux and V Panich (eds) Exploitation: From Practice to Theory. Rowman and Littelfield, London and New York: 99-118

‘Religion: Ally, Threat or Just Religion’ (Anne Phillips, 2016)  in Jean L Cohen and Cecile Laborde (eds) Religion, Secularism and Constitutional Democracy Columbia University Press: 47-65

The Politics of the Human (Anne Phillips, 2015) Cambridge University Press,.

‘A Reluctant Cosmopolitan’ (Anne Phillips, 2015) in Paul Dumouchel and Eriko Gotoh (eds) Social Bonds as Freedom: Revisiting the Dichotomy of the Universal and the Particular New York and Oxford, Berghahn:192-211

 'Against Authenticity' (Anne Phillips, 2015) in Geoffrey Brahm Levey (ed) Authenticity, Autonomy and Multiculturalism New York and London, Routledge: 89-103

Confronting gender inequality: How far have we come in the UK?
Phillips, Anne (2015) Confronting gender inequality: How far have we come in the UK? LSE Department of Government Blog (12 Oct 2015). Blog Entry.

Exploitation, commodification, and equality
Phillips, Anne (2017) Exploitation, commodification, and equality. In: Deveaux, Monique and Panitch, Vida, (eds.) Exploitation: from practice to theory. Studies in Social and Global Justice. Rowman and Littlefield International, London, UK, pp. 99-118. ISBN 9781786602039

What makes culture special?
Phillips, Anne (2017) What makes culture special? Political Theory. ISSN 0090-5917 (In Press)

Confronting gender inequality: findings from the LSE commission on gender, inequality and power
Perrons, Diane and Lacey, Nicola and Phillips, Anne and Wearing, Sadie and Ashtiany, Saphieh and Biressi, Anita and Carter, Cynthia and Chakrabarti, Shami and Chinkin, Christine and Couldry, Nick and Criado-Perez, Caroline and DeLargy, Pamela and Dobbs, Linda and Harris, Scarlett and Himmelweit, Susan and Jenkins, Kate and Kabeer, Naila and Lovenduski, Joni and Manning, Alan and Murray, Rainbow and Negra, Diane and Neitzert, Eva and Orgad, Shani and Plomien, Ania and Sen, Purna and Spicer, Harriet and Starmer, Keir (2016) Confronting gender inequality: findings from the LSE commission on gender, inequality and power. London School of Economics and Political Science, Gender Institute, London, UK.

Go to LSE Research Online for full publications list