P.J. Brendese

P.J. Brendese

Associate Professor

Contact Information

Research Interests: Political theory, comparative political thought, race and politics

Education: PhD, Duke University

P.J. Brendese is Associate Professor of Political Theory in the Department of Political Science. His research spans critical race theory, comparative political thought, decolonial theory, Indigenous political thought, environmental racism, and the politics of memory and temporality. Most recently, Professor Brendese is the author of Segregated Time (Oxford University Press, 2023) which 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 racialized carcerality, border politics, racial capitalism, and 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 rife with the proliferation of human disposability.

Professor Brendese's first book, The Power of Memory in Democratic Politics (Rochester University Press, 2014), 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.

Brendese’s ongoing work includes essays on the temporal aspects of environmental racism, eco-fascism and white supremacy as well as an edited volume entitled A Political Companion to Toni Morrison. The recipient of three teaching awards, he served as the Co-Director of the Racism, Immigration and Citizenship Program from 2015-2019. Professor Brendese has been interviewed by E-International Relations, Praxis, and Johns Hopkins Arts & Sciences Magazine. His work has been published in Political Theory, Theory & Event, Contemporary Political Theory, Politics Groups and Identities, Polity: The Journal of the Northeastern Political Science Association, The Encyclopedia of Political Thought, and edited anthologies.

Recent Courses

  • White Supremacy, Graduate and Undergraduate
  • Eco-Fascism & Racial Ecologies, Graduate
  • The End of Whiteness
  • Rethinking Western Thought, Graduate Seminar (Co-taught with William E. Connolly)
  • Environmental Racism, Graduate and Undergraduate
  • Decolonizing Time & Memory, Graduate Seminar
  • Classics of Political Theory: Political Freedom
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Democratic Theory
  • Comparative Political Theory
  • Race and Debt: Living on Borrowed Time
  • Disposable People: Immigration, Race, and Biopolitics
  • Postcolonial Ecologies and Planetary Temporalities, Graduate Seminar, (Co-taught with William E. Connolly)
  • Indigenous Political Theory, Graduate Seminar
  • Political Monsters, (Co-Taught with Samuel Chambers)
  • Live and Let Die: Biopolitics, Governmentality and the Racial State of Exception, Graduate Seminar, (Co-taught with Lester Spence)
  • Time to Kill: Race, Politics, Death, and Desire
  • Race and the Politics of Memory
  • The Politics of Music
  • Race and Memory in Politics, Literature and Theory, Graduate Seminar
  • Classics of Political TheoryThe Politics of Memory
  • Race, Politics, and Literature
  • Race and Segregated Time, Graduate Seminar
  • Religion, Economics, and Terror
  • Political Freedom, Race, and Resistance
  • The Social Contract and Community

Dissertation Committees 

  • Quinn Lester (Chair/Advisor), Policing Democracy: Theorizing White Supremacy, Police Power and the Impure Politics of Abolition, Defended July 12, 2022
  •  Jon Masin-Peters (Second Reader), Structural Injustice and Performative Politics, Defended June 20, 2022 
  • Jacob Kripp (Second Reader), Race War Fantasies: Race Rioting, Segregation and Global Racial Peace 1898-1935, Defended May 31, 2022.
  • Elliott Schwebach, (Second Reader), A Drive-Theoretical Case Against Property, Defended April 29, 2022
  • Maya Nitis, (Reader) Minoritized Knowledges: Agency, Literature, Temporality, Defended Feb. 2, 2023
  • Túlio R.B. Zille (Chair/Advisor), The River Is My Teacher: A Political Ecology of Development in the Brazilian Amazon, Defended October 4, 2019
  • Jishnu Guha Majumdar, (Second Reader) Property’s Cry: Race, Animality and Vulnerability, Defended August 11, 2020
  • Morgan Shahan, (Reader) Getting Out: Parole, Politics and Risk Assessment before the Carceral State, 1895-1939, Johns Hopkins University, Dept. of History, Defended August 19, 2020.
  • Thomas Mann (Chair/Advisor), Freedom in a World of Catastrophe, In progress, Defense: Summer 2023
  • 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 21stCentury 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



Articles & Chapters in Edited Volumes

  • A Race of Devils: Race-Making, Frankenstein and The Modern Prometheus,” Political Theory, Vol. 50, No. 1,  Feb 2022, 86-113
  • “Political Freedom,” Contemporary Political Theory, Vol 19, No. 2, June 2020, 312-317.
  • “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. Reprinted in A Political Companion to James Baldwin, Susan J. McWilliams, Ed., (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2017), 48-93.


  • "Memory, Ideology and Historical Identity," Kaaren Quasami interview with P.J. Brendese, Praxis, Fall 2022.

Book Reviews, Review Essays & Encyclopedia Entries

  • 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, M March 2010)
  • Encyclopedia Entry: “Public Use Doctrine,” (with Matthew Lindstrom), U.S. Supreme Court, Thomas Lewis and Richard Wilson, Eds. (Pasadena: Salem Press, 2000)