Prof Richard Bourke

Professor of the History of Political Thought
Fellow of King's College
Professor Richard Bourke FBA
Richard Bourke took his first degree at University College Dublin and completed his PhD at the University of Cambridge. He gained a second BA in Classics at Birkbeck College, University of London. He held his first academic post in Dublin, before moving to Queen Mary University of London, where he became Professor in the School of History in 2012. He was elected to the Chair in the History of Political Thought at Cambridge in 2018. In 2022 he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts by University College Dublin. He previously co-directed the AHRC-funded project on Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective as well as the History in the Humanities and Social Sciences Network, also funded by the AHRC. His work has attracted various accolades and awards, including as joint winner of the István Hont Memorial Book Prize in Intellectual History in 2016. His research has been funded by the Humboldt Stiftung and the DAAD and he has held a number of Fellowships in Europe and the United States, including at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, the Free University in Berlin and the University of Munich, as well as at the Huntington, Beinecke, William Andrews Clark and John Carter Brown Libraries.

He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2018.
Richard Bourke's work has focused on the history of political thought, particularly on the political ideas of the enlightenment and its aftermath. He also has interests in ancient philosophy, and in political theory in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He has written, in addition, on Irish history, above all on the Troubles. He has also published on various issues in contemporary political thought, ranging from nationalism and conservatism to political judgment and popular sovereignty. He is currently working on the philosophy of history since Kant, and on the history of democracy.
Part I Paper 20 and Part II Paper 4; MPhil (Hegel set text class, Democracy concept class).
Fellow of the British Academy
Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
Co-Director, Cambridge Centre for Political Thought
Series Co-Editor, Cambridge University Press, Ideas in Context
European Advisory Board, Princeton University Press
Editorial Board, Journal of British Studies
Editorial Board, History of European Ideas
Editorial Board, Modern Intellectual History.
Print Journalism: Unheard, The Financial Times, Prospect Magazine, The Irish Times, Fortnight Magazine, Aeon, Juncture, History Today, The Times Literary Supplement, The Literary Review, Standpoint Magazine, The Political Quarterly, The Nation (US), Revista de História da Biblioteca Nacional (Brazil), Open Magazine (India), Hamshahri Diplomatic (Iran), Farhange Emrooz (Iran).
Other Media: BBC, RTE, Press TV, GB News, Serious Science, Bookmonger, Philosophy Bites, Liberty Law Site, New Books Network.
History of British and European political thought since 1750, enlightenment, romanticism, democracy, nationalism, historiography, the history of the philosophy of history, modern Irish history.


Tags & Themes


King's College, Cambridge, CB2 1ST


Key publications

Hegel's World Revolutions (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2023).
Editor, with Quentin Skinner, and contributor, History in the Humanities and Social Sciences (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023), ix + 416 pp.
Editor, with Niamh Gallagher, The Political Thought of the Irish Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022), xli + 389 pp.

Empire and Revolution: The Political Life of Edmund Burke (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2015), xxvi + 1001 pp. Paperback 2017. Chinese translation 2023.

Editor, with Ian McBride, and contributor, The Princeton History of Modern Ireland (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2016), xiv + 544 pp.

Editor, with Quentin Skinner, and contributor, Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), x + 420 pp. Paperback 2017.

Editor, with Raymond Geuss, and contributor, Political Judgement: Essays for John Dunn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), viii + 354 pp. Paperback 2017.
Peace in Ireland: The War of Ideas (London: Random House, Pimlico, 2003, 2nd edition with new Preface, 2012), xvi + 462 pp.

Romantic Discourse and Political Modernity (London: Simon & Schuster, Harvester: 1993), vii + 353 pp.

'Nationalism and Northern Ireland: A Rejoinder to Ian McBride on “Ethnicity and Conflict,"' History of European Ideas, Online 13 September 2013, pp. 1–19.
Rights, Property and Politics: Hume to Hegel’ in The Cambridge History of Rights, Volume IV, eds. Dan Edelstein and Jennifer Pitts (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023).
History and Normativity in Political Theory: The Case of Rawls’ in History in the Humanities and Social Sciences, eds. Richard Bourke and Quentin Skinner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2023). Chinese translation in Journal of East China Normal University, Humanities and Social Sciences, 4 (2021), pp. 1–13.
'Hegel and the French Revolution', History of European Ideas, 49: 4 (2023), pp. 757–68. Spanish translation in Las Torres de Lucca, 12:2 (2023), pp. 131–40.
Jon Elster’s '"Enthusiasm and Anger in History"',  Inquiry, 64:3 (2021), pp. 308–20.
European Empire and International Law from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century’, The Historical Journal, 64: 3 (2021), pp. 812–21.
Political and Religious Ideas of the Irish Revolution’, History of European Ideas, 46: 7 (2020), pp. 997–1008.
‘Material Incentives and Kantian Optimisation: John E. Roemer on “Left-Right” Economics’, Review of Social Economy, 77: 1 (2019), pp. 29–32.

What is Conservatism? History, Ideology and Party’, Journal of European Political Theory, 17: 4 (2018), pp. 449–75.
Inventing Democracy’, 9th Gerald Stourzh Lecture on Human Rights and Democracy, Online Publication (University of Vienna: 2017).

‘Democracy as Ideal and Democracy as Struggle’, Modern Intellectual History (December 2017), pp. 1–7.

‘She me shi jiu ti zhi?’ (What was the Ancien Régime?), trans. into Chinese by Alvin Chen, Intellectual History, 7 (Taipei: 2017), pp. 215–36.

Reflections on the Political Thought of the Irish Revolution’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 27 (2017), pp. 175–91.

‘Staryy poryadok i Revolyutsiya’ (The Old Regime and the Revolution), ФИЛОСОФИЯ (Philosophy: Journal of the Higher School of Economics), 1:1 (Moscow 2017), pp. 34–56.
‘Revising the Cambridge School: Republicanism Revisited’, Political Theory, 46: 3 (2018), pp. 467–77.

‘War Edmund Burke ein Konservativer? Notizen zum Begriff des Konservatismus’, Leviathan: Berliner Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaft, 44:1 (2016), pp. 65–96.

‘Historiography’ in The Princeton History of Modern Ireland,eds.Richard Bourke and Ian McBride (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2016), pp. 271–91.

‘Popular Sovereignty and Political Representation: Edmund Burke in the Context of Eighteenth-Century Thought’ in Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective,eds. Richard Bourke and Quentin Skinner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 212–35.

‘Edmund Burke als Aufklärer’, Zeitschrift für Ideengeschichte, 9: 3 (Autumn 2015), pp. 111–16.

‘Party, Parliament and Conquest in Newly Ascribed Burke Manuscripts’, The Historical Journal, 55:3 (September 2012), pp. 619–52.

‘Burke, Enlightenment and Romanticism’ in The Cambridge Companion to Burke, eds. David Dwan and Chris Insole (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), pp. 27–40.

‘Pity and Fear: Providential Sociability in Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry’ in The Science of Sensibility: Reading Edmund Burke's Philosophical Enquiry, eds. Michael Funk Deckard and Koen Vermeir (Dordrecht, New York, Heidelberg and London: Springer, 2012), pp. 151–75.

‘Languages of Conflict and the Northern Ireland Troubles’, Journal of Modern History, 83:3 (September 2011), pp. 544–78.

‘Nationalism, Balkanization and Democracy’ in Schleifspuren: Lesarten des 18. Jahrhunderts, eds. Anke Fischer-Kattner et al. (Munich: Dreesbach Verlag, 2011), pp. 77–89.

‘Pocock and the Presuppositions of the New British History’, The Historical Journal, 53:3 (September 2010), pp. 747–70; reprinted in Critical Concepts in Historical Studies: Intellectual History, ed. Richard Whatmore (London: Routledge, 2015).

‘Theory and Practice: The Revolution in Political Judgement’ in Political Judgement: Essays for John Dunn, eds. Richard Bourke and Raymond Geuss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 73–110.

‘Edmund Burke and International Conflict’ in British International Thinkers from Hobbes to Namier, eds. Ian Hall and Lisa Hill (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp. 91–116.

‘Enlightenment, Revolution and Democracy’, Constellations, 15:1 (March 2008), pp. 10–32.

‘Edmund Burke and the Politics of Conquest’, Modern Intellectual History, 4:3 (November 2007), pp. 403–32.

Antigone and After: “Ethnic” Conflict in Historical Perspective’, Field Day Review, 2 (2006), pp. 170–96.

‘“Imperialism” and “Democracy” in Modern Ireland, 1898–2002’, Boundary 2: Special Issue on Irish Culture and Politics, 31:1 (2004), pp. 93–118.

‘Edmund Burke and Enlightenment Sociability: Justice, Honour and the Principles of Government’, History of Political Thought, 21:4 (2000), pp. 632–55.

‘Liberty, Authority and Trust in Burke’s Idea of Empire’, Journal of the History of Ideas,61:3 (Summer 2000), pp. 453–471; reprinted in International Library of Essays in the History of Social and Political Thought: Edmund Burke, ed. Iain Hampsher-Monk (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009), pp. 117–35.

‘Sovereignty, Opinion and Revolution in Edmund Burke’, History of European Ideas, 25:3 (1999), pp. 99–120.

Other publications

(with Quentin Skinner), ‘Introduction’ to History in the Humanities and Social Sciences, eds. Richard Bourke and Quentin Skinner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).
Unionisms and Partition’, Dublin Review of Books, October 2021.
'Max Weber and Anglophone Historiography', CAS Blog, 17 December 2020.

‘P. J. Marshall and Burke Studies’, Studies in Edmund Burke and His Time, 26 (2017), pp. 43–7.

‘Introduction’ to The Princeton History of Modern Ireland, eds. Richard Bourke and Ian McBride (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2016), pp. 1–18.

‘Introduction’ to Popular Sovereignty in Historical Perspective, eds. Richard Bourke and Quentin Skinner (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016), pp. 1–14.

Burke was no Conservative’, Aeon, 22 December 2015.

‘Living History: Reading Edmund Burke on Representation’, Juncture, 22:3 (Winter 2015), pp. 190–95.

‘Burke, Edmund’ in Gregory Claeys ed., Encyclopedia of Modern Political Thought (Los Angeles, CA: Sage, 2013), pp. 103–7.

‘Forum on the History of Political Thought in Germany’ (with Olaf Asbach et al.), German History, 30:1 (March 2012), pp. 75–99.

‘Burke’ in Philosophy Bites Back (Oxford: Oxford University Press: 2012).

‘Introduction: Hobbes, Language and Liberty’, Special Issue of Hobbes Studies, 22 (2009), pp. 161–70.

‘Plague Man: The Crusader in Conor Cruise O’Brien’ (Reappraisal), Times Literary Supplement, 13 March 2009, pp. 13–14.

(with Raymond Geuss), ‘Introduction’ to Political Judgement: Essays for John Dunn, eds. Richard Bourke and Raymond Geuss (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), pp. 1–26.

‘Aesthetics and Politics in Edmund Burke’, UCLA Centre for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies and William Andrews Clark Memorial Library: The Centre & Clark Library Newsletter, 50, (Autumn 2009), pp. 7–9.

‘Northern Ireland, 1945–’, The Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Modern World, 1750 to the Present, ed. Peter N. Stearns (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 8 vols., V, pp. 458–61.

‘Conflict of Cultures, Clash of Civilisations’ in Taking Unreason’s Measure: Facing the Global Challenge of Politics: Proceedings of the Centre for Political Thought Conference, Academia Sinica (Taipei: 2007), pp. 187–206.

‘Edmund Burke, 1730–1797’, The Dictionary of Liberal Thought, eds. Duncan Brack and Ed Randall (London: Politicos, 2007), pp. 51–4.

Hegel, Revolution and HistoricismInterventions: The Intellectual History Podcast, 30 June 2023.
Unionisms and Partition, BBC 8 December 2021.

Modern Irish History, Interview for Five Books: The Best on Everything, 25 July 2016.

The Cambridge School, Interview in Persian for the Iranian journal Farhange Emrooz (Today’s Culture), 7 May 2016.

Modern Nationalism, Serious Science, 27 July 2018.

The Conservatism of Burke, Serious Science, 27 June 2017.

The Concept of Sovereignty, Serious Science, 14 June 2017.

Alvin Chen, ‘An Interview with Richard Bourke’ in Intellectual History, 2 (Taipei: 2014), pp. 263–81.

‘Making Sense of Suffering’, Review of Michael Rosen, The Shadow of God: Kant, Hegel, and the Passage from Heaven to History (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 2022), Times Literary Supplement (17 March 2023).

‘Virtue and Utility in Collins’ Burke’, Review of Gregory Collins, Commerce and Manners in Edmund Burke’s Political Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020) in Cosmos + Taxis, 9: 9 &10 (2021).

‘Against Mystique’, Review of Seamus Deane, Small World: Ireland, 1798-2018 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021), Dublin Review of Books (June 2021).

‘European Empire and International Law from the Eighteenth to the Twentieth Century’, Review article on Peter Marshall, Edmund Burke and the British Empire in the West Indies: Wealth, Power and Slavery (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019); Jennifer Pitts, Boundaries of the International: Law and Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018); and Adom Getachew, Worldmaking After Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination(Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019) in The Historical Journal, 64: 3 (2021), pp. 812–21.

Review of Gregory Conti,  Parliament the Mirror of the Nation:  Representation, Deliberation, and Democracy in Victorian Britain (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019), H-Diplo Roundtable, XXI: 49 (Published Online 3 July 2020).

‘Convince Me’, Review of David Bromwich, How Words Make Things Happen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), Literary Review (November 2019).

‘My Identity is Knottier than Yours’, Review of Fintan O’Toole, Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain (Bloomsbury, 2018),  Dublin Review of Books (September 2019).

‘Critique and Crisis’, Review of Reinhart Koselleck, Sediments of Time: On Possible Histories (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2018), Times Literary Supplement (2 August 2019).

‘What’s the Big Idea?’, Review of Emily Jones, Edmund Burke and the Invention of Modern Conservatism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), The Literary Review, (April 2017).

‘Rational Selections’, Review of Anthony Gottlieb, The Dream of Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Philosophy(London, Allen Lane, 2016), Literary Review (November 2016).

‘Revising the Cambridge School: Republicanism Revisited’, Review Essay on Istvan Hont, Politics in Commercial Society: Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2015) and Richard Tuck, The Sleeping Sovereign: The Invention of Modern Democracy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), Political Theory (October 2016).

‘Skepticism Renewed’, review of James Harris, Hume: An Intellectual Biography (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), The Nation, 9–16 May, 2016, pp. 35–7.

‘In Progress’, review of John Robertson, The Enlightenment: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015) and Vincenzo Ferrone, The Enlightenment: History of an Idea (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015), Times Literary Supplement (25 March 2016).

‘Did Burke Betray the Cause of Liberty?’, review of Jesse Norman ed., Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution and Other Writings (Everyman, 2015), Standpoint (April 2016), pp. 57–9.

‘Rethinking Democracy’, Review Essay on Jonathan Israel, Revolutionary Ideas: An Intellectual History of the French Revolution from the Rights of Man to Robespierre (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2014), and John Dunn, Breaking Democracy’s Spell (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2014), Modern Intellectual History (April 2015), pp. 1–13.

‘Big Society?’, review of Jesse Norman, Edmund Burke: Philosopher, Politician, Prophet (London: Collins, 2013), Times Literary Supplement (2 August 2013).

‘How the West was Won’, review of Anthony Pagden, The Enlightenment and Why It Still Matters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), Literary Review, June 2013, pp.18–19.

‘Beyond Nationalism’, review of Simon Prince and Geoffrey Warner, Belfast and Derry in Revolt: A New History of the Start of the Troubles (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2012), Times Literary Supplement (29 June 2012).

‘The Slippery World of Democracy’, review of Jan Werner-Müller, Contesting Democracy: Political Ideas in Twentieth-Century Europe (London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011), Political Quarterly, 83:1 (January–March 2012), pp. 194–7.

‘Democratic Flaws’, review of John Keane, The Life and Death of Democracy (London: Simon & Schuster, 2009), Political Quarterly, 81:1 (January-March 2010), pp. 141–3.

‘Home and Away’, review of J. G. A. Pocock, Political Thought and History: Essays on Theory and Method (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), The Times Literary Supplement (25 September 2009).

‘The Slight Hand of History’, review of Jonathan Powell, Great Hatred, Little Room: Making Peace in Northern Ireland(London: The Bodley Head, 2008), Political Quarterly, 80:2 (April 2009), pp. 310-13.

‘Zealots’, review of Eugenio Biagini, British Democracy and Irish Nationalism, 1876–1906, The Times Literary Supplement (5 September 2008).

‘Conciliating the Irish’, review of Paul Bew Ireland: The Politics of Enmity, 1789–2006 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), Political Quarterly (April 2008), pp. 276–8.

‘Visible Hands’, review of Iain McLean, Adam Smith, Radical and Egalitarian: An Interpretation for the 21st Century (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006); Gavin Kennedy, Adam Smith’s Lost Legacy (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005); Stephen J. McKenna, Adam Smith: The Rhetoric of Propriety (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2006); and Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of The Wealth of Nations, With an Introduction and Notes by Jonathan B. Wight, and a Foreword by Rt. Hon. George Osborne (Hampshire: Harriman House, 2007), The Times Literary Supplement (18 January 2008).

‘Exporting Burke’, review of Seamus Deane, Foreign Affections: Essays on Edmund Burke (Cork: Cork University Press, 2005), Political Quarterly, 78:2 (April 2007), pp. 336–9.

‘Modern Massacres’, review of Michael Mann, The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), Political Quarterly, 78:1 (January 2007), pp. 182–5.

Review of Bill Kissane, The Politics of the Irish Civil War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), Nations and Nationalism, 13:1 (January 2007), pp. 165–6.

‘Dark Corners’, review of Jan Dalley, The Black Hole: Money, Myth and Empire (London: Penguin, 2006) and Nicholas B. Dirks, The Scandal of Empire: India and the Creation of Imperial Britain (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, Belknap, 2006), The Times Literary Supplement (1 December 2006).

Review of Efraim Podoksik, In Defence of Modernity: Vision and Philosophy in Michael Oakeshott (Charlottesville, VA: Imprint Academic, 2003), The European Legacy, 11:2 (April 2006), pp. 201–2.

Review of Eric Nelson, The Greek Tradition of Republican Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), The European Legacy, 11:2 (April 2006), pp. 2002–3.

‘It’s not the Economy, Stupid’, review of Istvan Hont, Jealousy of Trade: International Competition and the Nation-State in Historical Perspective (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2005), The Times Literary Supplement (20 January 2006).

‘Towards an Irish Consensus’, review of John McGarry and Brendan O’Leary, Consociational Engagements (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), Political Quarterly, 76:3 (July 2005), pp. 459–61.

Review of Kevin Barry, Language, Music and the Sign (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), The British Journal of Aesthetics, 29: 2 (1989), pp. 188–9.