P.J. Brendese is Assistant Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Racism, Immigration and Citizenship Program. Brendese is a political theorist whose research interests span critical theory, race and politics, comparative political thought and the politics of memory and temporality. He is the author of The Power of Memory in Democratic Politics (Rochester University Press, 2014), which examined how political power affects what is available to be remembered, who is allowed to recall the past and where and when past events can be commemorated. Drawing on thinkers ranging from Sophocles, Nietzsche and Derrida to James Baldwin and Toni Morrison, the study considers the role of disavowed memory and the politics of collective memory in democratic processes throughout history. The cases treated include ancient Athenian democracy, South Africa’s effort to transition to democracy via its landmark Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Mexico’s struggle for democratic accountability after its “dirty war” against dissidents and the unresolved legacy of slavery that haunts US race relations. The book advances a dimensional theory of memory that accounts for the ways that the past lives on in unconscious assumptions and habituated practices which shape the possibilities of freedom, action and political imagination.
Professor Brendese is currently at work on two books. His second single-author book, entitled The Race of Segregated Time, investigates how racial inequality is frequently experienced as an imposition on human time, how time functions as a vehicle of both power and resistance, and how the extended lifetimes of racially dominant groups are leveraged upon the foreshortened lifetimes of racial others. The questions point to segregated temporality: how experiences of time diverge across peoples, how a range of political subjects are viewed as occupants of different time zones, and how these divergent temporal spheres are mutually entwined in ways that serve the interests of racially and economically dominant groups. P.J. Brendese is also editing a volume entitled A Political Companion to Toni Morrison to be included in a series on American political thinkers published by the University of Kentucky Press. Brendese’s essays have appeared in Theory & Event, Contemporary Political Theory, Polity: The Journal of the Northeastern Political Science Association, PGI: Politics, Groups and Identities, as well as in a number of anthologies and edited volumes. He is the recipient of three teaching awards.