Laura Zanotti


Laura Zanotti



509 Major Williams Hall
220 Stanger Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061




Department Membership

Political Science


  • Critical Political Theory
  • International Ethics
  • International Organizations
  • UN Peacekeeping
  • NGOs

Professional Activities

  • Member US Board University of Fondwa, Haiti
  • Jean Monnet Fellow, European University Institute, San Domenico di Fiesole, Italy (2005-2006)
  • United Nations Liaison Office (UNLO) in Zagreb, Croatia, former Political Affairs Officer and Deputy to the Head of Office (assignment 2001-2003)
  • United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, New York. USA 1994-2005)


  • Ph.D., Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA
  • M.B.A., Scoula Direzione  Aziendale (SDA) Bocconi, Milan,  Italy
  • Laurea (B.A. equivalent), University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy

Research Interests

    Awards and Honors

    2012 College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech. Excellence in Research and Creative Scholarship Award.

    2011 Institute for Society, Culture and Environment (ISCE). Summer Scholar.

    Jean Monnet Fellow, European University Institute

    Mellon Foundation Fellowship, Florida International University

    Alumna, Collegio Ghislieri, Pavia, Italy.

    Selected Publications


    Zanotti, L. 2019. Ontological Entanglements, Agency and Ethics in International Relations. Exploring the Crossroads.  Routledge Interventions.

    Zanotti, L. and Stephenson, M. 2012. Peacebuilding through Community-Based NGOs: Paradoxes and Possibilities. Kumarian Press.

    Zanotti, L., 2011. Governing Disorder. UN Peace Operations, International Security, and Democratization in the Post–Cold War Era. University Park, Pennsylvania: Penn State University Press.

    Edited Books

    Zanotti, L. (with Max Stephenson, Eds.) 2013. Building Walls and Dissolving Borders: The Challenges of Alterity, Community and Securitizing Space. London: Ashgate.


    Zanotti, L.  2017. “Reorienting IR: Ontological Entanglement, Agency and Ethics.”  International Studies Review.  Vol. 19, no. 3, pp 362-380.

    Zanotti, L. (with Max Stephenson and Nancy McGehee) 2016. “International Aid, Local Ownership, and Survival: Development and Higher Education in Rural Haiti.” Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations. Vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 273-298.  

    Zanotti, L. 2015.  “Questioning Universalism, Devising an Ethics without Foundations: An Exploration of International Relations Ontologies and Epistemologies.” Journal of International Political Theory, Vol. 11, no.3, pp. 277-295.  (First published online October 28, 2014).

    Zanotti, L. 2013. “Governmentality, Ontology, Methodology: Re-thinking Political Agency in the Global World” Alternatives: Global, Local, Political. Vol. 38(4) 288–304.

    Zanotti, L. 2013 “A Post-Liberal Peace' and 'International Peacebuilding and Local Resistance” International Peacekeeping, Vo.20, No. 5 pp.643-646.

    Zanotti, L. 2010.  “Cacophonies of Aid, Failed State Building and NGOs in Haiti: setting the stage for disaster, envisioning the future”. Third World Quarterly, Vol. 31, no.5, pp. 755-771.

    Zanotti, L. 2010.  “UN integrated peacekeeping operations and NGOs: Reflections on Governmental Rationalities and Contestation in the Age of Risk.”  International Peacekeeping. Vol. 17, no.1, pp. 17-31.

    Zanotti, L. 2008.  “Imagining Democracy, Building Unsustainable Institutions: The UN Peacekeeping Operation in Haiti.” Security Dialogue. Vol. 39, no.5, pp. 539-561.

    Additional Information

    As a peacekeeper I have encountered the limits of abstractions as guidelines for action in international intervention.  In my current research I explore possibilities of re-thinking international ethics based upon notions of connectedness and responsibility instead of universal prescriptions. The insights of quantum ontologies and the work on Michel Foucault inspire my research.  I maintain that ontologies of entanglement pave the way for reconceptualizing ethics based upon practices, invite to deep humility in adjudicating the validity of action, and requisite careful contextual assessments and of means to end.