Lars Tønder

Lars Tønder

Professor with special responsibilities, Professor MSO

Member of:

Head of Studies

Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University.

Lars Tønder is a political theorist with a special interest in democratic theory, civil society, climate change, and political philosophy. 

He is a member of the Political Theory Research GroupREGROUPCentre for Anthropological, Political and Social Theory (CAPS), and the Emotions and Public Affairs network.

Prior to his appointment at the University of Copenhagen, Lars held positions at The University of Melbourne and Northwestern University.


The main purpose of Lars’ research is to examine democracy in the context of political contestation, social movements, and climate change. He is the principal investigator on two 3-year research projects (2021 – 2024), both funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark:

  • Vital Politics (VIPO): examines the conditions for normative thinking in the Anthropocene, with a special emphasis on the vitalist tradition and thinkers such as Canguilhem, Spinoza, and Bergson.
  • Democratic Innovations in a Green Transition (DIGT): examines the use of climate citizen’s assemblies to support societal change, with an emphasis on issues related to inclusion, sovereignty, and civil society.

In addition to these projects, Lars has written on issues related to power, tolerance, free speech, pluralism and democratic culture. He has been the PI on research projects related to liberalism and the role of reason and affect, and he has published a series of articles and chapters on the role of satire, laughter, and “comic politics”. 

Lars is the co-editor of Radical Democracy: Politics between abundance and lack, and his book Tolerance: A Sensorial Orientation to Politics was published with Oxford University Press in 2013. His most recent monograph Om magt i den antropocæne tidsalder: En introduktion was published with DJØF Forlag in 2020.

Fellowships and prizes

Lars has twice been a visiting fellow at the École Normale Supérieure Lettres et Sciences Humaines, Lyon, and once at the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities at Northwestern University. His dissertation won the 2007 American Political Science Association Leo Strauss Prize for best dissertation in political philosophy. In 2016, he was the recipient of the Department of Political Science’s Teaching Award.

Professional service

Lars serves on the Editorial Board of Theory & EventDistinktion, and Politics and Religion. He was the Foundations of Political Theory program co-chair for the 2016 American Political Science Asssociation convention. He is regularly asked to review manuscripts for journals such as Political TheoryContemporary Political TheoryAmerican Political Science Review as well as presses such as Oxford University Press, Harvard University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Routledge.

Selected publications

  1. Published

    Om magt i den antropocæne tidsalder: En introduktion

    Tønder, Lars, Dec 2020, København: Djøf Forlag. 190 p.

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

  2. Published

    Political Theory and the Sensorium

    Tønder, Lars, 1 Jul 2015, In: Political Theory.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  3. Published

    Five Theses for Political Theory in the Anthropocene: Reflections on Wolin's "What Time Is It?"

    Tønder, Lars, 2017, In: Theory & Event. 20, 1

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  4. Published

    Tolerance: A Sensorial Orientation to Politics

    Tønder, Lars, 2013, N.Y.: Oxford University Press.

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearchpeer-review

  5. Published

    Comic Power: Another Road Not Taken?

    Tønder, Lars, Dec 2014, In: Theory & Event. 17, 4

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  6. Published

    Radical Democracy: Politics between Abundance and Lack

    Tønder, Lars (ed.) & Thomassen, L. (ed.), 2005, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

    Research output: Book/ReportAnthologyResearchpeer-review

  7. Published

    Freedom of Expression in an Age of Cartoon Wars

    Tønder, Lars, 2011, In: Contemporary Political Theory. 10, 2, p. 255-272 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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