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Professor John Dunn FBA

Political Studies
John Dunn profile picture

About this Fellow

Raised in England, Germany, Iran and India, John Dunn has been a scholar of Winchester and King's, a Harkness Fellow at Harvard, and Fellow successively of Jesus (1965-66) and King's Colleges (1966- ) in Cambridge. He was Professor of Political Theory in Cambridge for twenty years and is now Emeritus. He has done research on the history of political ideas, Revolutions, the politics of West Africa, the economic limits to modern politics, the limitations of socialist and liberal political theories, and the implications of the diffusion of democracy as term, array of political ideas, and supposedly associated institutions across the world over last century. Outside Britain he has taught in Ghana, India, the United States and Japan and been especially interested in the politics of East and South Asia. He is best known for his work on John Locke (1969, 1984 ), modern revolutions (1972), the globalization of political thinking (1979), the history of political theory (1980, 1985, 1990, 1996), political realism (2000), and the dynamic and erratic impact of democracy as an idea and form of government(1979, 1984, 1992, 2000, 2005 & 2014).


Current post

  • Emeritus Professor of Political Theory, University of Cambridge

Past Appointments

  • Reader in Politics, University of Cambridge, 1977 - 1987
  • Professor of Political Theory, University of Cambridge, 1987 - 2007
  • Emeritus Professor of Political Theory, University of Cambridge, 2007
  • Fellow, King's College University of Cambridge, 1966

British Academy Appointments

  • Member of Council, 2004 - 2007


Modern Revolutions 1972, 1989


Western Political Theory in the Face of the Future 1979, 1993)


Breaking Democracy's Spell 2014


The political thought of John Locke 1969


The cunning of unreason: making sense of politics 2000


Setting the People Free: the story of democracy 2005


Other Political Studies: Political Theory, Government and International Relations Fellows

Professor Duncan Snidal

International relations theory, emphasis on international cooperation and design of international institutions; international organisations and law; multilateralism; international political economy; transnational regulation; governance

Professor Patricia Clavin

The international and transnational history of the 20th and 21st centuries; internationalism and global organisations, notably the League of Nations; European and US foreign policies, reappraising notions of security; the Great Depression

Professor Michael Walzer

The politics and morality of war with special emphasis right now on asymmetric war; also the complicated relations of religion and nationalism in the years since World War Two

Professor Jane Duckett

Contemporary Chinese government and politics; Chinese health and social policy, poverty and inequality; comparative politics