Academic journal article Philosophy Today

Ordinary Emergences in Democratic Theory: An Interview with Bonnie Honig

Academic journal article Philosophy Today

Ordinary Emergences in Democratic Theory: An Interview with Bonnie Honig

Article excerpt

Apolitical scientist working at the intersection of political theory and the critical humanities, Bonnie Honig is Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Modern Culture and Media, and Political Science, at Brown University. She was previously assistant and associate professor at the Department of Government, Harvard University, and Sarah Rebecca Roland Professor at Northwestern University. She is also Affiliate Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation. Professor Honig's work has been influential in the fields of democratic theory, legal studies, feminist theory, immigration studies, and literary and cultural theory, among others. She has published in prestigious journals across the social sciences and the humanities such as American Political Science Review, Political Theory, Arethusa, New Literary History, Social Text, and diacritics, among many others. An internationally renowned scholar, her work has been translated into Swedish, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Greek, Japanese, Korean and Rumanian.

Trained at Concordia University (B.A.), in Montreal, The London School of Economics (M.Sc.), and The Johns Hopkins University (Ph.D.), where she worked under the supervision of Richard E. Flathman and William E. Connolly, Professor Honig is a leading proponent of agonistic democracy. Her first book Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics (Cornell, 1993) was awarded the Scripps Prize for best first book in political theory. In the book Honig discusses liberal, communitarian and republican attempts to insulate politics from conflict and uncertainty. Drawing on Nietzsche, Arendt, Machiavelli, and Derrida, among others, Honig explores an alternative approach in political theory that tracks the disruptive remainders of political closure or settlement and recasts them as potential sites of democratic freedom or engagement. Her second monograph, Democracy and the Foreigner (Princeton University Press, 2001), established her as an influential voice in the politics of immigration. Here Honig mobilizes readings of the Biblical book of Ruth as well as of popular movies such as The Wizard of Oz, Shane, and Strictly Ballroom to interrogate the myth of an immigrant America where the foreigner is often seen not just as a threat, but also as a supplement or source of renewal for democracies whose energies are depleted. Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy (Princeton University Press 2009), her third monograph, was the co-winner of the David Easton Prize and discusses sites of potential democratic emergences in a time of sovereign exception and emergency politics. Her fourth monograph, Antigone Interrupted (Cambridge University Press, 2013), offers an original interpretation of Sophocles's Antigone that explores previously neglected resources for thinking agonistic sorority in the play. The book has already been the subject of critical exchanges with the author in journals such as Philosophy Today, International Journal of the Classical Tradition and PhiloSOPHIA. In a recent essay in boundary 2, called "Three Models of Emergency Politics," Honig develops and extends her thoughts on emergency politics drawing on material from Emergency Politics and Antigone, Interrupted, to engage critically with Elaine Scarry's Thinking in an Emergency.

Professor Honig has also been a prolific editor of influential academic volumes. She edited Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt (Penn State, 1995) and co-edited Skepticism, Individuality and Freedom: The Reluctant Liberalism of Richard Flathman (Minnesota, 2002) and the Oxford Handbook of Political Theory (Oxford, 2006). She is also co-editor of a symposium in the journal Theory & Event dedicated to the films of the Danish cinematographer Lars von Trier, scheduled to appear, in revised form, as a book with Oxford University Press . In 2013, Professor Honig delivered the Sydney Lectures as part of the Thinking Out Loud Series, and in 2014, she performed for the second time as a respondent to the Tanner Lectures, these delivered by Eric Santner at the University of California, Berkeley. …

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