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Michael Loriaux


A.B.: University of Chicago; Ph.D.: Princeton University
Curriculum Vitae


Research Interest(s): European Unification, Post-Nationhood

Program Area(s): Political Theory

Regional Specialization(s): Europe

Subfield Specialties: Critical Theory


My research aspires to deliver European unification from the liberal common sense in which it is typically framed. The history of European unification, examined in France After Hegemony: International Change and Financial Reform (Cornell, 1991) and in European Union and the Deconstruction of the Rhineland Frontier (Cambridge, 2008; awarded the Charles Taylor Prize for best book employing interpretive methods), discloses economic and geopolitical forces that belie liberal ideology, and in so doing invite the citizen subject to imagine rival worlds of possibility. Europe Anti-Power (Routledge Interventions 2018) exercises that imagination by deconstructing the concept of “power,” as evoked with increasing frequency in order to secure Europe’s liberal values, but in a way that is arguably “autoimmune.”

My current book manuscript focuses on The Political Theology of European Unification. In it I place the first successful efforts to forge European unity in dialogue with the Vatican II reforms so as to reconstruct the ambition to forge a third way of conceptualizing the political good as neither socialist nor liberal. That ambition is articulated through a new anthropology, developed in the first half of the twentieth century, which emphasizes human finitude and singularity and denies individual sovereignty and the claims of species homogeneity in and through scientific and philosophical rationalisms. It is, ironically, through the rejection of sovereign subjectivity that one can discern the path to historical and cultural transcendence and human complicity. This anthropological vision, consigned to silence during the decades of American leadership, becomes meaningful again in our day as humanity meanders toward climate change and species extinction.

I co-founded and direct the French Interdisciplinary Group and advise students in our various French partnership programs, including the dual PhD programs with Sciences Po, the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, and the École Normale Supérieure (ENS). I am currently co-directing the FIG-Buffett-ENS faculty-doctoral student meditation on Covid-19, “Living With Plagues”. I also direct our Northwestern-Sorbonne Nouvelle undergraduate program in Art, Literature, and Contemporary European Thought, taught in Paris, and am active in the Critical Theory Cluster. I teach graduate courses on critical theory and interpretive methods.



  • Europe Anti-Power: Ressentiment and Exceptionalism in EU Debate (London: Routledge Interventions, 2016).
  • European Union and the Deconstruction of the Rhineland Frontier. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
  • Law and Moral Action in World Politics.  Edited with Cecelia Lynch (University of Minnesota Press, 2000).      
  • Capital Ungoverned: The Dismantling of Activist Credit Policies in Interventionist States.  Co-authored with Meredith Woo-Cumings, Kent Calder, Sylvia Maxfield, and Sofia Perez (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1997)
  • The Past as Prelude: History in the Making of the New World Order.  Edited with Meredith Woo-Cumings.  (Boulder: Westview, October, 1992)
  • France After Hegemony: International Change and Financial Reform. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991)

Select Publications

  • Translation of Marc Crépon, Murderous Consent, Fordham University Press, 2019, winner of French-American Foundation Prize for Best Translation of a Work of Non-fiction
  • "Hermeneutics,"  The Encyclopedia of Political Thought, Wiley-Blackwell, September, 2014.
  • Translation of Marc Crépon, The Thought of Death and the Memory of War, University of Minnesota Press, 2013
  • "The Illusion of Power and the Disruption of Moral Norms: Thucydides' Critique of Periclean Policy," with Sara Monoson, in Beate Jahn, ed., Classical Theory in International Relations, Cambridge University Press, 2006 (reprises 1998 APSR article).
  • "France: A New "Capitalism of Voice?" in Linda Weiss, ed., States in the Global Economy, Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • "International Law and Moral Action in International Relations Thought," in Cecelia Lynch and Michael Loriaux, Law and Moral Action in World Politics (University of Minnesota Press, 2000).
  • "The French Developmental State as Myth and Moral Ambition," in Meredith Woo-Cumings, ed. The Developmental State (Cornell University Press, 1999).
  • "Saint Augustine and the Realists: Skepticism, Psychology, and Moral Action in International Relations Thought," International Studies Quarterly, December, 1992. 

Courses taught

  • PS 308 Critical Theory and the Study of Politics
  • PS 408 Interpretive and Critical Approaches to the Study of Politics
  • PS 447 Critical Studies in World Politics


  • Officier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques
  • Charles Taylor Award for the best book in political science that employs or develops interpretive methodologies and methods, awarded by the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods Conference Group of the APSA, for European Union and the Deconstruction of the Rhineland Frontier
  • Gabriel A. Almond Award for best doctoral dissertation in Comparative Politics, by American Political Science Association
  • Tocqueville Fellow, The French-American Foundation