P.J. Brendese

P.J. Brendese

Associate Professor

PhD, Duke University

Curriculum Vitae
357 Mergenthaler
Fall 2022: By Appointment

P.J. Brendese is an Associate Professor of Political Science and a political theorist with research interests spanning critical theory, race 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 examines 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. The book advances a dimensional theory of memory by speaking to the ways the past lives on in unconscious assumptions and habituated practices which, in turn, shape how possibilities of freedom, action, and political imagination are racialized. Professor Brendese’s second book, Segregated Time (Oxford University Press, 2020) investigates how racial segregation not only takes space but takes time as well. Segregated Time examines how racial inequality functions as an imposition on human time, how time serves as a vehicle of power and resistance, and how the extended lifetimes of racially dominant groups are leveraged upon the foreshortened lifetimes of racial others. Engaging issues of mass-incarceration, border politics, racial capitalism/debt, as well as environmental catastrophe, the study crafts a theory of ‘white time’ through an encounter with Afro-diasporic, Indigenous and Latinx thinkers in the context of contemporary neocolonial politics and the proliferation of human disposability. Brendese’s ongoing work includes essays on the temporal aspects of environmental racism, demonology/monstrosity, and race, as well as an edited volume entitled A Political Companion to Toni Morrison. The recipient of three teaching awards and the Co-Director of the Racism, Immigration and Citizenship Program from 2015-2019, he is the author of numerous academic articles, chapters in edited volumes, and the subject of a recent interview by e-IR.

Recent Courses

  • Decolonizing Time & Memory, Graduate Seminar
  • Environmental Racism
  • Classics of Political Theory: Political Freedom
  • Race and Debt: Living on Borrowed Time
  • Disposable People: Immigration, Race, and Biopolitics
  • Postcolonial Ecologies and Planetary Temporalities, Graduate Seminar, Co-taught with Prof. William E. Connolly
  • Indigenous Political Theory, Graduate Seminar
  • Political Monsters, Co-Taught with Prof. Samuel Chambers
  • Live and Let Die: Biopolitics, Governmentality and the Racial State of Exception, Graduate
  • Seminar, Co-taught with Prof. Lester Spence
  • Time to Kill: Race, Politics, Death, and Desire
  • The Politics of Music
  • Race and Memory in Politics, Literature and Theory, Graduate Seminar
  • Classics of Political Theory: The Politics of Memory
  • Race, Politics, and Literature
  • Race and Segregated Time, Graduate Seminar
  • Religion, Economics, and Terror
  • Political Freedom, Race, and Resistance

Dissertation Committees

  • Thomas Mann (1st Reader/Advisor), Freedom in a World of Catastrophe, Thesis in progress
  • Stephanie Najjar (1st Reader/Advisor), Humanism, Colonialism & Race, Thesis in progress
  • Quinn Lester (1st Reader /Advisor), Black Radicals, Self-Defense, and Organizing Against State Violence, Thesis in Progress
  • Túlio R.B. Zille (1st Reader /Advisor), The River Is My Teacher: A Political Ecology of Development in the Brazilian Amazon, Defended October 4, 2019.
  • Jacob Kripp, The White Atlantic 1917-1979: A Political Genealogy of Transnational Reactionary Ideology, Thesis in progress
  • Stephanie Erev, Affect, Humanism and the Sensory in an Age of Environmental Catastrophe, Defended Aug 27, 2019
  • Jishnu Guha Majumdar, (Second Reader) American Captivity: Carceral Humanism and Interspecies Ethics, Thesis in progress.
  • Patrick Giamario, The Politics of Laughter: Theorizing Laughter Critically in the Social Order, Defended April 27, 2018
  • Chris Forester-Smith, (Second Reader), The Color of Creditworthiness: Debt, Race, and Democracy in the 21st Century Defended February 23, 2018
  • Fernando Romero, Being in International Relations: The Structure of International Feeling, Defended April 24, 2017.
  • Katie Glanz, Receptive Autonomy: A Psychoanalytic Ethics of Creative Discontent, Defended September 23, 2016
  • Hitomi Koyama, (Second Reader), Japan’s History Problem: Agency, Violence and the Limits of Decolonizing History, Defended September 25, 2015.
  • Derek Denman, Scales of Political Life: Space and Power Beyond the Polis, Defended September 10, 2015.
  • Adam Culver, (Second Reader) Race and Romantic Visions: A Tragic Reading, Defended May 8, 2015
  • Kellan Afinson, The Ethos of the Event: From Political Eruptions to Climate Change, Defended December 9, 2014.
  • Nicole Sunday Grove, Gamers, Hunters, Provocateurs: Digital Mediations of Violence, Gender, and Faith in the Arab World, Defended November 21, 2014


  • Segregated Time (New York: Oxford University Press, Forthcoming 2021)
  • The Power of Memory in Democratic Politics (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2014)

Articles & Chapters in Edited Volumes

  • “The Tragedy of Political Freedom,” Contemporary Political Theory, Forthcoming 2020.
  • “Worlds Neither New Nor Brave: Racial Terror in America” Theory & Event, Vol. 20, No. 1, Jan 2017, 24-43.
  • “Borderline Epidemics: Latino Immigration and Racial Biopolitics,” Politics, Groups & Identities, Vol. 2, Issue 2, June 2014, 168-187.
  • “Black Noise in White Time: Segregated Temporality and Mass Incarceration” in Romand Coles, Mark Reinhardt and George Shulman, eds. Radical Future Pasts: Untimely Political Theory (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2014), 81-111.
  • “Double Crossed by the Crossing: On the Spaciotemporal Borders of Immigration,” Contemporary Political Theory, Vol. 12, Issue 3, August 2013, 230-241.
  • “The Race of a More Perfect Union: James Baldwin, Segregated Memory, and the Presidential Race,” Theory & Event, Vol. 15, No.1, March 2012.
  •  “The Race of a More Perfect Union: James Baldwin, Segregated Memory, and the Presidential Race,” in A Political Companion to James Baldwin, Susan J. McWilliams, Ed., (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2017), 48-93. (Reprint)
  • “For Love of the Impossible: Antigone, Memory and the Politics of Possibility,” in When Worlds
  • Elide: Political Theory, Cultural Studies and the Effects of Hellenism, J. Peter Euben & Karen Bassi,   
  • Eds. (Lantham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010)
  • “Remembering Democratic Time: Specters of Mexico’s Past and Democracy’s Future,” Polity: Journal of the Northeastern Political Science Association, Vol. 41, No. 4, October 2009, 436-464.

Published Interviews

Book Reviews, Review Essays & Encyclopedia Entries

  • Review: Asma Abbas, Another Love: A Politics of the Unrequited, Lexington Books, 2018 (Political Theory, Forthcoming 2020)       
  • Review: Jack Turner, Awakening to Race: Individualism and Social Consciousness in America, Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 2012. (Contemporary Political Theory, November 2017, Vol 16, No. 4, 578-584)
  • “Democratizing Freedom,” Review: Stein Ringen, What Democracy is For: On Freedom and Moral Government, Princeton University Press, 2007. (Taiwan Journal of Democracy, Vol. 7, No. 1, July 2011)
  • “On the Dream Bridges Between Loneliness and Solidarity,” Review Essay: Thomas Dumm, Loneliness as a Way of Life, Harvard University Press, 2008. (Theory & Event, Vol. 13, No.1, March 2010)
  • Encyclopedia Entry: “Public Use Doctrine,” (with Matthew Lindstrom), U.S. Supreme Court, Thomas Lewis and Richard Wilson, Eds. (Pasadena: Salem Press, 2000)