Principal Investigator

Oliver Marchart, Mag.Dr.phil. (University of Vienna, philosophy), PhD (University of Essex, Government), ‘habilitation’ in philosophy and sociology (University of Lucerne). 2001-2006 scientific assistant at the Department of Media Studies, University of Basel. 2006-2012 SNF-research professor at the Sociological Seminar of the University of Lucerne. 2012-2016 professor of sociology at the Art Acedemy Düsseldorf. Since March 2016 professor for political theory at the University of Vienna. Fellowships: 1995 Research Fellow at the Centre for Theoretical Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences der University of Essex. 1997/98 Junior Fellow at the International Research Center Cultural Studies (IFK), Vienna. 2005 Fellow at the Columbia University Institute for Scholars at Reid Hall and the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) Paris. 2013 Senior Fellow at the Internationalen International Research Center Cultural Studies (IFK) Vienna. 2016 Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Konstanz.

Areas of research

Political theory, social theory, democracy theory, history of political ideas, social movement research, political discourse analysis

Co-chair of the working group ‘Constructivist Theories of Politics’, German Political Science Association (DVPW)



Post-Doctoral Researcher for Subproject I Culture

Viktoria Huegel, BA (Heidelberg University), MA and PhD (University of Brighton) with the dissertation “From Authority to Authoritarianism and back again": Max Weber, Carl Schmitt and Hannah Arendt” (supervisors: Mark Devenney, Clare Woodford; examiners: Bonnie Honig, German Primera Villamizar). 2022-2023 research assistant at the Institute for Political Science; Heidelberg University. 2018-2022 school tutor in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology, Sussex University; 2019 visiting researcher at the Rhetorics department, UC Berkeley.

Since October 2023, Viktoria is post-doctoral researcher in the subproject “Culture-Pre-enacting Democratic Spaces” of the ERC project “Prefiguring Democratic Futures. Cultural and Theoretical Responses to the Crisis of Political Imagination (PI: Oliver Marchart). The aim is to investigate how activists reclaim the physical and symbolic space of the theatre in order to experiment with democratic forms of self-organisation and to open an artistic space of imagination. Together with Dr. Clare Woodford (University of Brighton), Viktoria also leads the AHRC research network “Wellbeing State” bringing together international researchers and policy makers to imagine and actualise welfare state politics for the 21st century.

Viktoria’s expertise lies in radical democratic theory and German Political Thought of the 20th century. Her first book “From Authority to Authoritarianism and back again” develops a post-foundational concept of authority to defend democratic institutions and procedures against their undermining by new authoritarian politics. For that, it critically examines the concept of authority in the work of Weber, Schmitt, Arendt drawing on post-structuralism, Black radicalism and the philosophy of translation.

Areas of research

Political theory, radical democracy, new authoritarianism, 20th century German Political Thought, political order and disorder.


Post-Doctoral Researcher for Subproject II Archive

Sara Gebh, BA (University of Hamburg), MA (FU Berlin), MA and MPhil (The New School for Social Research), PhD (The New School for Social Research) with the award-winning dissertation “The Specter of Disorder: Stasis and the Pacification of the Democratic Idea” (Committee: Andreas Kalyvas, Nadia Urbinati, Hubertus Buchstein, Sandipto Dasgupta). 2013-2016 Research Assistant, The New School for Social Research. 2016-2020 University Assistant (praedoc), University of Vienna. 2020-2022 Research Associate, University of Greifswald. Fellowships and Prizes: Fulbright Full Scholarship (2011/12), The New School for Social Research's Prize Fellowship (2013-2016) and Dissertation Fellowship (2019/20). Her dissertation has been awarded with the Dissertation Prize 2023 of the German Political Science Association (DVPW).

Since October 2022, Sara Gebh is a post-doctoral researcher in the ERC project “Prefiguring Democratic Futures. Cultural and Theoretical Responses to the Crisis of Political Imagination” (principal investigator: Oliver Marchart). She leads the subproject “Archive. Refiguring Forgotten Institutions”, in which the institutional memory of the global history of political ideas is reactivated in order to create an archive of institutions that have been largely neglected in current debates about the crisis of democracy. The goal is to carve out those functions of historically ‘forgotten’ institutions that might prove useful for envisioning alternative democratic futures. Sara Gebh’s expertise lies at the intersection of the history of political ideas and radical democratic theory.

Sara Gebh is the Submissions Coordinator for the journal “Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory”; co-speaker of the DVPW working group “Konstruktivistische Theorien der Politik” (Constructivist Theories of Politics) and co-editor of the series “Politologische Aufklärung – konstruktivistische Perspektiven” at Springer VS (together with Paula Diehl, Oliver Marchart, and Florian Hoffmann); member of the Theory Section of the DVPW and the the ECPR Standing Group Political Concepts.

Areas of research

History of Ideas and Democratic Theory; History of Anti-Democratic Thought; Postfoundationalism and Radical Democracy; Conflict and Stasis; Civil Disobedience, Protest and Resistance.



Post-Doctoral Researcher for Subproject III Theory

Mag. Dr. Sergej Seitz, MA studied Philosophy and German Philology at the Universities of Vienna and Paris VIII (Vincennes/Saint-Denis). 2014-2016 Research assistant in the FWF research project Language and Violence: The Ethico-Political Turn to Language after the Linguistic Turn. 2016-2019 scientific assistant at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Vienna, Chair of Philosophy in a Global World - Intercultural Philosophy. 2019-2022 assistant professor for practical philosophy at the University of Innsbruck.

Since October 2022, Sergej Seitz is a post-doctoral researcher in the ERC project "Prefiguring Democratic Futures. Cultural and Theoretical Responses to the Crisis of Political Imagination (principal investigator: Oliver Marchart). He leads the subproject "Theory. Conceptualizing Democratic Imagination", elaborating a theory of the democratic imaginary and developing a theoretical account of counter-institutions as spaces for political and democratic imagination. Sergej Seitz's research focus is on political philosophy, social philosophy, and radical democratic theory.

Sergej Seitz is Editor at the journal Genealogy+Critique, founding member of the Critical Theories Network, member of the DFG research network Assembling, associated faculty member of the doctoral school "Dynamics of Inequality", and former general secretary of the German Society for Phenomenological Research.

Areas of research

Political and Social Philosophy, Philosophy of Language, Theories of Radical Democracy, Discourses of Alterity, Theories of Linguistic Violence




Madlyn Sauer, DIPL

(c) Clara Neugebauer

Prae-Doctoral Researcher for Subproject I Culture

Madlyn Sauer, DIPL studied stage and costume design and applied theater studies at the Academy of Fine Arts Dresden in 2014- 2020. Subsequently, she was an artistic assistant in stage and costume design until April 2022. Since 2021 she is a doctoral researcher in the Department of Cultural Analysis at the University of Zurich and in the Zurich Phd program Epistemologies of Aesthetic Practices on Doing Justice Otherwise: The convening of civil society tribunals between retribution, restoration and transformation (supervision Prof. Dr. Sylvia Sasse). Scholarships: study scholarship (2016-2020) and PhD scholarship (2022- vrsl. 2024) by the foundation Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes.

Since May 2023, Madlyn Sauer is a research associate (prae-doc) in the sub-project I Culture – Pre-enacting Democratic Spaces in the ERC project Prefiguring Democratic Futures. Cultural and Theoretical Responses to the Crisis of Political Imagination” (Prof. Dr. Oliver Marchart).

Areas of research

History and Practice of civil society tribunals; Social Movement Research; Peace and Conflict Studies; Protest and Resistance; Transformative and social Justice; Decolonial Theory; Abolitionism

Alexander Kurunczi, MA

Prae-Doctoral Researcher for Subproject I Culture

Alexander Kurunczi, MA studied English Studies and Media Studies at the Ruhr-University Bochum and Newcastle University. He was a research student at the graduate research training group “Das Dokumentarische. Exzess und Entzug” (‘Documentary Practices. Excess and Deprivation’) in 2019, research assistant at the Chair for British Cultural Studies 2019-2020, and has been teaching at the Ruhr-University Bochum.

Starting in May 2023, Alexander Kurunczi is doctoral researcher in the ERC project “Prefiguring Democratic Futures. Cultural and Theoretical Responses to the crisis of Political Imagination” (principal investigator: Oliver Marchart). He’s a member of the subproject “Culture – Pre-Enacting Democratic Spaces,” which explores the democratising potentials of performative practices initiated by artists and activists, placing particular emphasis on the appropriation and refunctioning of existing institutions.

Alexander Kurunczi’s research focus lies at the intersections of radical democratic theory, critical theory, and social movement studies.

Areas of Research:

Radical Democratic Theory, Strategies and Tactics of Political Protest and Social Movement Studies, Political Utopias and Prefigurative Practices, Political Ecology, (Post-)Marxist Theory



Rainer Stummer, BA

Research Administrator

Ing. Rainer Stummer, BA is responsible for the daily organisational, administrative and financial operations as well as for the internal and external communication activities.

He studied at the Universities of Vienna and Stockholm and currently finishes his master's degree in political science with a focus on postfoundational political theory.

Former Research Administrator



Advisory Board

Paula Biglieri, Profesora investigadora, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, University of Buenos Aires


Larry Grossberg, Morris Davis Distinguished Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, University of NorthCarolina at Chapel Hill


Shu-Fen Lin, Professor at the International Center for Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu


Chantal Mouffe, Professor of Political Theory at the Center for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster


Linda Zerilli, Charles E. Merriam Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago


Michael Freeden, Emeritus Professor of Politics, University of Oxford, and Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London