Politics and International Relations


Dr Stefan Rossbach is a specialist in social and political theory and the history of political ideas. Prior to moving to Kent in 1995, Dr Rossbach held scholarships from the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes, the John and Catherine MacArthur Foundation, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, and the European University Institute. He was a visiting scholar at the Contemporary History Institute in Athens, Ohio (1989/90), the Department of War Studies at King's College London (1990/1), the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Berlin (1991), and the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University (1999, 2001, 2006). Dr Rossbach is interested in the ‘spiritual dimension of politics’, which includes the broader question of the possibility of finding a ‘critical knowledge of order’ outside politics and the theoretical and practical problems involved in using this knowledge within politics. His specialist interests include the lifeworks of Niklas Luhmann, Eric Voegelin, Karol Wojtyła (John Paul II), and René Girard. Dr Rossbach won the Social Sciences Faculty Teaching Prize in 2005, 2008 and 2014. He has supervised 18 research students through to completion and in 2009 was awarded the University's Postgraduate Supervision Prize.

Contact Information


Rutherford E4.S1

Academic office hours are available on the Moodle Student Guide

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Rossbach, S. (2018). Resistance, Suffering and Leadership: An Introduction to Apophatic Leadership. International Political Anthropology Journal 11:47-67.
Rossbach, S. (2007). The impact of 'exile' on thought: Plotinus, Derrida and Gnosticism. History of the Human Sciences [Online] 20:27-52. Available at: http://hhs.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/20/4/27.
Rossbach, S. (2007). The impact of 'exile' on thought: Plotinus, Derrida and Gnosticism. History of the Human Sciences [Online] 20:27-52. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0952695107082490.
Rossbach, S. (2005). 'Gnosis' in Eric Voegelin's philosophy. Political Science Reviewer [Online] 34:77-121. Available at: http://www.isi.org/journals/political_science_reviewer.html.
Rossbach, S. (2003). The spiritual foundations of modern systems theory: Niklas Luhmann's libertas indifferentiae. ARC: Journal of the McGill Faculty of Religious Studies Montre:165-191.
Rossbach, S. (1998). Contencao: a Filosofia de George F. Kennan. Gepolis: Revista de Filosofia e Cidadania 5:99-116.
Rossbach, S. and Brans, M. (1997). The Autopoiesis of Administrative Systems: Niklas Luhmann on Public Administration and Public Policy. Public Administration [Online] 75:417-439. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9299.00068.
Rossbach, S. (1996). Gnosis, science, and mysticism: A history of self-referential theory designs. Social Science Information Sur Les Sciences Sociales [Online] 35:233-255. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/053901896035002004.
Rossbach, S. and Brans, M. (1996). Luhmanniaanse Perspectieven Op Overheidsbestuur en -Beleid. Tijdschrift voor Sociologie [Online] 17:205-216. Available at: http://www.sociologie.be/tijdschrift/jrg/nrs/jg1996nr2.htm.
Rossbach, S. (1992). The Autopoiesis of the Cold War: An Evolutionary Approach to International Relations? EUI Working Papers in Political and Social Sciences 1992:1-35.
Rossbach, S. (1987). Mathematische Modelle von Ruestungskonkurrenzen: Eine Einfuehrung. SWP Arbeitspapiere:1-51.
Book section
Rossbach, S. (2010). Cold War and Eastern and Western Christianity. in: Patte, D. ed. The Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 254-255.
Rossbach, S. (2009). On the metaphysics of exile. in: Bullock, M. and Paik, P. Y. eds. Aftermaths: Exile, Migration and Diaspora Reconsidered. New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, pp. 76-102. Available at: http://rutgerspress.rutgers.edu/acatalog/Aftermaths.html.
Rossbach, S. (2007). Understanding in Quest of Faith: The Central Problem in Eric Voegelin's Philosophy. in: Hamerton-Kelly, R. ed. Politics and Apocalypse. East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, pp. 219-261. Available at: http://msupress.msu.edu/bookTemplate.php?bookID=3259.
Rossbach, S. (2003). 'Corpus Mysticum': Niklas Luhmann's Evocation of World Society. in: Albert, M. and Hilkermeier, L. eds. Observing International Relations: Niklas Luhmann and World Politics. London: Routledge, pp. 44-56. Available at: http://www.routledgepolitics.com/books/Observing-International-Relations-isbn9780415315388.
Rossbach, S. (2001). The Cold War, the Decline of the West, and the Purpose of Containment: the Political Philosophy of George F. Kennan. in: Hughes, G., McKnight, S. A. and Price, G. L. eds. Politics, Order and History: Essays on the Work of Eric Voegelin. Sheffield, UK: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd., pp. 144-184. Available at: http://www.SheffieldAcademicPress.com.
Rossbach, S. and Brans, M. (1997). Niklas Luhmann. in: Shafritz, J. M. ed. The International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Available at: http://bookshop.blackwell.co.uk/jsp/id/International_Encyclopedia_of_Public_Policy_and_Administration_v/9780813399737.
Rossbach, S. (1992). Strukturwandel und Stabilitaet. in: Heydrich, W. et al. eds. Sicherheitspolitik Deutschlands: Neue Konstellationen, Risiken, Instrumente. Baden-Baden: Nomos, pp. 239-251.
Rossbach, S. (1999). Gnostic Wars: The Cold War in the Context of a History of Western Spirituality. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Rossbach, S. (1993). The Author's Care of Himself: On Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault and Niklas Luhmann. Florence: European University Institute.
Rossbach, S. (1986). Ueberlegungen zur Methodologie militaerischer Kraeftevergleiche. Ebenhausen: Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politics.
Total publications in KAR: 21 [See all in KAR]
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Research Interests


The history of political philosophy

  • Spirituality, religion and politics
  • Mysticism
  • Niklas Luhmann
  • Eric Voegelin
  • René Girard
  • Karol Wojtyła


Current projects

What René Girard missed in the Gospels” (working title): a critique of Girard’s theory

“Prolegomena to an Ethics of ‘Real Presence’”: an exploration of the ethics implied in the life and work of Karol Wojtyła, with an emphasis on the influence of St John of the Cross and the Song of Songs


Research Supervision

I am interested in supervising doctoral dissertations on subjects related to:

  • Dualism, Gnosticism, apocalypticism and millenarian beliefs and their historical interaction with politics
  • Niklas Luhmann
  • Eric Voegelin
  • René Girard
  • Karol Wojtyła


Current PhD Candidates:

Frederic Lepine, The Evolution of Federalist Thought (co-supervisor)

Franziska Hoppen, Anti-Politics

Ina Friesen, Humanitarian Assistance as a Practice of Resistance

Andrew Brogan, The Politics of Critical Pedagogy



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Last Updated: 10/09/2018