Skip to main content
KBS_Icon_questionmark link-ico


Davina Cooper is a Research Professor in Law and Political Theory. She is an interdisciplinary scholar, whose work focuses on concepts, transformative politics, state activism, and experimental communities.

Between 2018-22, she directed the ESRC funded research project on the Future of Legal Gender - which explored the implications and stakes of abolishing legal sex and gender status. In October 2022, Davina started work on a two-year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship on conceptual activism, prefigurative politics and gender.

Her books include Challenging Diversity: Rethinking Equality and the Value of Difference (CUP, 2004); Everyday Utopias: The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces (Duke 2014) and Feeling like a State: Desire, Denial, and the Recasting of Authority (Duke, 2019).

From 2004-2009, she directed the AHRC Research Centre in Law, Gender and Sexuality (based at the universities of Kent, Keele and Westminster); from 2000-2003, she was Research Dean for the Social Science Faculty at Keele.

She has been a specialist advisor to the Education and Employment Parliamentary Select Committee, a magistrate, and a local London councillor. She is a founding editor of the interdisciplinary Routledge book series, Social Justice.

She is an elected Fellow of the British Academy and elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Research Interests

Davina Cooper’s research combines two interdisciplinary areas. The first is conceptual innovation and the methodologies to support new conceptual thinking. Specifically, here, her work explores re-conceptualisations of the state, gender, property, and equality through a diverse range of research methods, including qualitative fieldwork, caselaw, and simulations of state and legislative practice.

Her second area of research addresses radical, utopian, and transgressive forms of state and non-state governance, from everyday utopias to municipal state activism, paying particular attention to governance innovations and conflicts to do with gender, sexuality, and religion.

Selected Publications

  • 2019: Feeling like a State: Political Withdrawal and the Transformative Imagination [Duke University Press for Global and Insurgent Legalities series]
  • 2017: ‘Prefiguring the State’, Antipode 49 (2) 335-356
  • 2016: ‘If the State Decertified Gender, What Might Happen to its Meaning and Value?’ Journal of Law and Society 43 (4): 483-505 [co-author, Flora Renz]
  • 2014: Everyday Utopias: The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces (Duke University Press, Durham, NC) [awarded Charles Taylor Book prize]
  • 2004: Challenging Diversity: Rethinking Equality and the Value of Difference (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge)
  • 1998: Governing Out of Order: Space, Law and the Politics of Belonging (Rivers Oram, London and New York University Press, NY)