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Laura Zanotti

Laura Zanotti, Professor

Laura Zanotti, Professor
Laura Zanotti, Professor

Department of Political Science
509 Major Williams Hall (0130)
220 Stanger Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-2750 |

Professor Laura Zanotti’s research and teaching include critical political theory, international ethics as well as UN peacekeeping and NGOs. Her most recent book, entitled Ontological Entanglements, Agency and Ethics in International Relations - Exploring the Crossroads (Routledge Interventions, 2019) addresses the implications of embracing quantum physics’ entangled ontology for International Relations conceptualizations of agency and ethics. The book argues that an entangled ontological imaginary opens the way for re-imagining how as humans we inhabit the world. It nurtures an ethos of responsibility and it raises the bar for adjudicating the ethical validity of political initiatives beyond abstract principles.

In her previous monography, entitled Governing Disorder: United Nations Peace Operations, International Security, and Democratization in the Post-Cold War Era (Penn State University Press, 2011), Zanotti uses Foucauldian theoretical tools to address the political imaginary and unintended consequences of peacekeeping in Haiti and in Croatia.

Her work has appeared in numerous peer reviewed journals. She is also the co-author and the co-editor of two books. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Zanotti was a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute in San Domenico di Fiesole, Italy. She also served as a visiting professor at the School of International Relations, Trento University, Italy. Before becoming an academic, Zanotti worked at the United Nations, where she served both in administration and as a political officer for Peacekeeping Operations. She spent several years in the field, both in Haiti and in Croatia, where she performed the functions of the Deputy to the Head of the United Nations Liaison Office.

  • Critical Political Theory
  • International Ethics
  • International Organizations
  • UN Peacekeeping
  • NGOs
  • Ph.D., Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA
  • MBA, Scoula Direzione  Aziendale (SDA) Bocconi, Milan, Italy
  • Laurea (B.A. equivalent), University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
  • 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)
  • 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), Virginia Tech. Summer Scholar
  • Jean Monnet Fellow, European University Institute
  • Mellon Foundation Fellowship, Florida International University
  • Alumna, Collegio Ghislieri, Pavia, Italy


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.

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

Journal Articles

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.

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