Wendy Brown (political scientist)

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Wendy Brown
Born (1955-11-28) November 28, 1955 (age 61)
Region Western philosophy

Wendy L. Brown (born November 28, 1955) is an American professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley[1] where she is also affiliated with the Department of Rhetoric, and where she is a core faculty member in Critical Theory.[2]


Brown received her BA in both Economics and Political Science from UC Santa Cruz, and her M.A and Ph.D in political philosophy from Princeton University. Prior to going to Berkeley in 1999 she taught at Williams College and UC Santa Cruz.[3]

She has held visiting appointments at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, the Goethe University in Frankfurt, and the Humanities Research Institute in Irvine, California. She taught at the Critical Theory Summer School at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in London. She served as Council Member of the American Political Science Association (2007–09) and as Chair of the UC Humanities Research Institute Board of Governors (2009–11).[4]

She has established new paradigms in critical legal studies and feminist theory.[5] She has produced a body of work that draws upon Marx's critique of capitalism, Nietzsche's usefulness for thinking about power and the ruses of morality, Max Weber and the modern organization of power, Freudian psychoanalysis and its implications for political identification.[6] Her work builds on Michel Foucault's work on governmentality, sovereignty, and neo-liberalism, and other contemporary continental philosophers to diagnose modern and contemporary formations of political power, and to discern the threats to democracy entailed by such formations, such as that posed by Catharine MacKinnon, about whose 1989 work Toward a Feminist Theory of the State Brown critiqued in the The Nation (January 8/15, 1990, pp. 61–64) as a "profoundly static world view and undemocratic, perhaps even anti-democratic, political sensibility" as well as "flatly dated" and "developed at 'the dawn of feminism's second wave ... framed by a political-intellectual context that no longer exists -- a male Marxist monopoly on radical social discourse'".[7]

Brown's most recent books have focused on the "waning sovereignty" of states under new global conditions of power, showing how the erosion of nation-states has produced anxious efforts to shore up national identity through the building of walls.[8] In addition, she has published on secularism, emphasizing how the meaning of "critique" in modern liberalism is bound up with the question of managing religious affiliations, so that religion has always served as a presupposition for modern secular statehood.[9] She has developed a critical theory of neoliberal rationality, extending Foucault's own thinking on the subject by considering its effect on higher education, law, governance and the basic principles of liberal democratic institutions as well as radical democratic imaginaries.[10]

Her work has been translated into more than twenty languages. She lectures around the world and has held a number of distinguished visiting fellowships and lectureships. Most recently, she has been a member of the Birkbeck Critical Theory Summer School faculty (2012), a Senior Invited Fellow of the Center for Humanities at Cornell University (2013) and a visiting professor at Columbia University (2014).[10] In 2012, her book Walled States, Waning Sovereignty won the David Eastman Award from the Foundations of Political Thought Section of the American Political Science Association.[citation needed]


For years, Brown has been active in effort against what some claim are attempts to privatize the University of California system.[11]

In her capacity as co-chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association, she has raised awareness, organized marches, and spoken publicly about what she claims are attempts at the privatization on public education.

“We are marching to draw attention to the plight of public education in California and to implore Californians to re-invest in it. For all its resources, innovation and wealth, California has sunk to nearly the bottom of the nation in per student spending, and our public higher education system, once the envy of the world, is in real peril.”[12]

She has been critical about the University's decision to cut costs by utilizing lecturers rather than hiring tenure and tenure track professors.[13]

She has spoken publicly about the perils and pitfalls of the University of California's proposed online education programs.[14] She has endorsed Occupy Wall Street, claiming that "We understand this to be part of what (the movement) stands for. We are delighted by the protests and consider our campaign to be at one with it."[15]

Personal life[edit]

Brown is a native of California and lives in Berkeley with her partner Judith Butler and son.[16]

Books in English[edit]

  • 2015: Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution
  • 2010: Walled States, Waning Sovereignty
  • 2006: Regulating Aversion: Tolerance in the Age of Identity and Empire
  • 2005: Edgework: Critical Essays in Knowledge and Politics
  • 2001: Politics Out of History
  • 1995: States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity
  • 1988: Manhood and Politics: A Feminist Reading in Political Thought

Edited and co-authored books[edit]

  • 2014: The Power of Tolerance, co-authored with Rainer Forst
  • 2009: Is Critique Secular? Injury, Blasphemy and Free Speech, co-authored with Judith Butler, Saba Mahmood and Talal Asad
  • 2002: Left Legalism/Left Critique, ed. with Janet Halley


  1. ^ "Wendy Brown - People in the Department". Polisci.berkeley.edu. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Faculty - Townsend Humanities Lab". Townsendlab.berkeley.edu. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ "UCB Rhetoric - Affiliated Faculty". Rhetoric.berkeley.edu. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Wendy Brown - UC Humanities Research InstituteUC Humanities Research Institute". Uchri.org. Retrieved 2016-09-24. 
  5. ^ Wendy Brown, Christina Colegate, John Dalton, Timothy Rayner, Cate Thill, Learning to Love Again: An Interview with Wendy Brown, Contretemps 6, January 2006: 25-42
  6. ^ R Gressgård. "Feminist Theorizes the Political: The Political Theory of Wendy Brown", tandfonline.com; accessed February 1, 2017.
  7. ^ Brown, W. "Consciousness Razing", The Nation, January 8/15, 1990, pp. 61–64.
  8. ^ Timothy Shenk, “Booked #3: What Exactly Is Neoliberalism?” Dissent Magazine
  9. ^ "An Interview with Wendy Brown". Prodigallitmag.com. Retrieved 2016-09-24. 
  10. ^ a b "Wendy Brown profile". Polisci.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2016-02-04. 
  11. ^ "In Defense of UC and Public Education". Ucbfa.org. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  12. ^ "UC Faculty Join "99 Mile March" to Sacramento". Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  13. ^ "The Daily Californian - Academic Council approves recommendation to utilize more lecturers". Dailycal.org. Retrieved June 17, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Wendy Brown on Online Education |". Ucbfa.org. 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2016-09-24. 
  15. ^ "UC faculty council endorses Occupy Wall Street | The Daily Californian". Dailycal.org. 2011-10-16. Retrieved 2016-09-24. 
  16. ^ "It's Judith Butler's World - The Cut". Nymag.com. Retrieved 2016-09-24. 

External links[edit]