At Berkeley, beyond her primary teaching roles in Political Theory and Critical Theory, Brown is also an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Rhetoric, the Jurisprudence and Edgework critical essays on knowledge and politics Policy Program, the Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality, and the Designated Emphasis in Early Modern Studies. Brown’s work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has received many awards. In 2012, her book Walled States, Waning Sovereignty won the David Eastman Award.
Brown received the 2016 Distinguished Teaching Award, UC Berkeley’s most prestigious honor for teaching. She was a plenary speaker at the 2017 European Sociological Association conference in Athens, Greece. In this work Brown asks how a sense of woundedness can become the basis for individual and collective forms of identity. From outlawing hate speech to banning pornography, Brown argues, well-intentioned attempts at protection can legitimize the state while harming subjects by codifying their identities as helpless or in need of continuous governmental regulation. While breaking ground in political theory, this work also represents one of Brown’s key interventions in feminist and queer theory. The book offers a novel account of legal and political power as constitutive of norms of sexuality and gender. Through the concept of “wounded attachments”, Brown contends that psychic injury may accompany and sustain racial, ethnic, and gender categories, particularly in relation to state law and discursive formations.
This book comprises a series of essays on contemporary political issues from the problem of moralism in politics to the legacies of past injustices in the present. What happens to left and liberal political orientations when faith in progress is broken, when both the sovereign individual and sovereign states seem tenuous, when desire seems as likely to seek punishment as freedom, when all political conviction is revealed as contingent and subjective? Much of this book takes history and liberalism themselves as objects of theoretical reflection and sites of contestation. Brown rethinks the disorientation and possibility inherent to contemporary democracy. Each individual essay begins with a specific problem: what is the relationship between love, loyalty, and dissent in contemporary American political life?
At times, it can also be used to justify violence. Brown argues that tolerance primarily operates as a discourse of subject construction and a mode of governmentality that addresses or confirms asymmetric relations between different groups, each of which must then “tolerate” other groups and categories or “be tolerated” by the dominant groups and categories. Brown’s account of tolerance discourse. Here Brown argues against primarily moral or normative approaches to power and discourse, and warns against the dangers of uncritically celebrating the liberal ideal of tolerance, as frequently happens in Western notions of historical, civilizational or moral progress.
This book examines the revival of wall-building under shifting conditions of global capitalism. Brown not only problematizes the assumed functions of walls, such as the prevention of crime, migration, smuggling, and so on. She also argues that walling has taken on new a significance due to its symbolic function in an increasingly globalized and precarious world of financial capital. As individual identity as well as nation-state sovereignty are threatened, walls become objects invested with individual and collective desire.
Anxious efforts to shore up national identity are thus projected onto borders as well as new material structures that would appear to secure them. She describes neoliberalism as a thoroughgoing attack on the most foundational ideas and practices of democracy. To address such threats, Brown argues, democracy must be reinvigorated not only as an object of theoretical inquiry but also as a site of political struggle. Wendy Brown giving the Democracy Lecture at the HKW Berlin in 2017. In her capacity as co-chair of the Berkeley Faculty Association, she raised awareness, organized marches, and spoke publicly about the privatization of public education.
She has been critical of the university’s decision to cut costs by utilizing lecturers rather than hiring tenure and tenure track professors. Relatedly, she has voiced concern over the perils of the UC’s proposed online education programs. Brown has criticized university administration for their response to sexual assault. 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. We are delighted by the protests and consider our campaign to be at one with it. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.