Ross Speer

Mr Ross Speer

Job Market Candidate

Research topic:
Aleatory Materialism: The Necessity of Contingency
Degree course:

Research Themes:
Political Theory Feminism History Ideology Power Socialism Political thought and ideologies 

Academic Profile

I am a 4th year DPhil student in Political Theory at The Queen's College. For the 2016 - 17 academic year I was a Visiting Researcher at Sciences Po, Paris. Before joining the University of Oxford I earned a BA in History & Politics at Queen Mary, University of London (2009 - 12) and an MSc in Political Theory at LSE (2012 - 13).

My current research is concerned with unearthing the philosophy of 'Aleatory Materialism' that dominated the final stages of the work of the French philosopher Louis Althusser (1982 - 87). With Aleatory Materialism Althusser seeks to demonstrate the importance of contingency to explaining social phenomena, particularly macro-level transformations of social systems. Attempts to construct grand narrative theories of history have relied upon deterministic laws for their explanatory frameworks. Althusser argued that such theories had a propensity to produce question-begging explanations. The problem was not, he thought, grand narrative theorising, but the adherence of such theories to out-dated ideas of what constituted science. Contingency has become central to the contemporary natural sciences, and Althusser shows how an appreciation of the constructive role of contingency can similarly help us in resolving social scientific problems.

I was a co-convenor for the University of Oxford's 5th annual Graduate Political Theory Conference, the topic of which was Feminism and (Political) Progress (2016) and Oxford's 4th annual Graduate Political Theory Conference, on Political Theory at the Margins (2015).





Teaching specialism, interests and experience

2018: 'Marx and Marxism' tutorials for Pembroke, Balliol, and Brasenose Colleges.

2015: 'Contemporary Marxist Theory' tutorials for New College and the Arcadia University Exchange Program.

Available for teaching Theory of Politics, Marx and Marxism, Political Thought: Bentham to Weber.



2018: 'Unlikely Hegemons', Radical Philosophy, 2:1, pp. 102 – 5.

2016: 'The Machiavellian Marxism of Althusser and Gramsci', Décalages, 2:1, pp. 1 – 15.

Conference Papers and Presentations

2017: 'Gramscism, the New Left and problems of socialist strategy: the case of 7 Days' . Wars of Position: Marxism and Civil Society Conference. University of Manchester.

2015: ‘Marxism and Feminism: A critique of Lise Vogel’s social reproduction theory’. Social and Political Thought Conference: Feminism & Critical Theory. University of Sussex.

2015: ‘Machiavellian Marxists; Comparing aspects of Gramsci’s and Althusser’s interpretations of Machiavelli’. Past and Present: Philosophy, Politics and History in the Thought of Gramsci Conference. King's College London.

2015: ‘Marxism, Feminism and Privilege’. Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy Graduate Conference: Philosophy, Power, Potentialities. Kingston University, London.

2014: ‘Machiavellian Marxists: Comparing aspects of Gramsci’s and Althusser’s interpretations of Machiavelli’. Historical Materialism Conference. School of Oriental and African Studies, London.