Michaelle Browers

Associate Professor

Office: Kirby 317
Phone: 758-3535
Email: browerm@wfu.edu

Michaelle Browers is associate professor of political science at Wake Forest University in North Carolina in the United States.  She writes on various aspects of contemporary Arab and Islamic political thought.  Browers is an active member of the Women’s and Gender Studies program and the minor in Middle East and South Asia Studies and teaches a variety of courses in political theory, including feminist political thought, democratic theory, politics and identity, and Islamic political thought.  Dr. Browers has written two books: Democracy and Civil Society in Arab Political Thought: Transcultural Possibilities (Syracuse University Press, 2006) and Political Ideology in the Arab World: Accommodation and Transformation (Cambridge University Press, 2009).  She coedited  a book with Charles Kurzman, entitled An Islamic Reformation? (Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), and her articles have appeared in such journals as the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, and the Journal of Political Ideologies.  She has conducted research throughout the Arab region.


B.A.      1990, Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA
M.A.      1994, University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Ph.D.     2001,  University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

Academic Appointments

Associate Professor, Wake Forest University, Dept. of Political Science, 2007- present;
Assistant Professor, Wake Forest University, Dept. of Political Science 2000-2007

Click here for CV.

Selected Publications

Political Ideology in the Arab World: Accommodation and Transformation (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Democracy and Civil Society in Arab Political Thought: Transcultural Possibilities (Syracuse University Press, 2006).

An Islamic Reformation? ed. with Charles Kurzman (Lexington Books, 2004).

“Origins and Architects of Yemen’s Joint Meeting Parties,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 39:4 (2007), pp. 565-86.

“The Egyptian Movement for Change: Intellectual Antecedents and Generational Conflicts,”Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslim Life 1:1 (2007), pp. 69-88.

For a complete list of publications click cv.

POL 115   Political Theory

The aim of this course is to introduce students to some of the main schools of political thought and their expression as modern ideologies.  We will analyze historical texts and contexts of political theorizing which articulate competing conceptualizations of such core concepts as democracy, freedom, equality, and power, focusing on (1) the “classic” formulations of these concepts within the dominant traditions of political thought: liberalism, conservatism, and socialism; (2) the reconfiguration of these concepts in modern nationalist ideologies; and (3) the attempts of various contemporary liberation, identity, ecological, and religious based movements to challenge and reinscribe the terms and conventions through which the dominant ideologies compete.  We conclude the course with a study of globalization and its relation to ideas about a “clash of civilizations” and an “end of ideologies.”

POL 272   Democratic Theory

Democracy today is often taken for granted as the global political ideal and almost every current political state claims to be a democracy.  However, a broader historical perspective reveals that the classical conception of direct rule by the people has proved to be a relatively rare form of government–difficult to maintain and long criticized by political philosophers, ancient and modern.  Further, its very definition has been highly contested.  Thus, our aim is to study the myriad theories of democracy.  First, we will look at the historical and intellectual roots of some of the classical models of democracy (direct, liberal and republican), as well as consider various criticisms of those models. In the latter part of the course we will identify and discuss various challenges that the contemporary context presents for existing and hoped for democracies.  To encourage active theorizing, each student will engage various democratic exercises and experiments throughout the semester and undertake a service learning assignment in our community.  The required service component of the course, in particular, should provide students with a plethora of experience upon which to draw for our class discussions and writing assignments.

POL 277 Feminist Political Thought

We will explore various concerns of feminist political thought in this course.  We begin by examining representative texts from five distinct but overlapping approaches to feminist theorizing: liberal feminism, socialist feminism, psychoanalytic feminism, ecofeminism and postmodern feminism.  Along the way we will discuss the historical development of feminist thought.  In the second part of the course, we turn toward more specific issues of feminism and gender relations, beginning with matters that lean toward the personal (e.g., embodiment) and gradually approach those that lean more toward the explicitly political (e.g., the state), keeping in mind that the question of where and how to draw the line between the personal and the political is itself a very important question confronting feminist theorists.  Throughout the course we will pay close attention to the ways in which gender intersects with class, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, and other forms of difference.

POL 278 Politics and Identity

It is a commonplace of much contemporary political thought that our identity has a significant impact not only on our sense of where we feel “at home” or “a stranger,” but also on our political projects, values, and conduct.  Yet, the role of identity in politics is complex and multifaceted.  Notions of identity in its more totalizing forms have empowered some and marginalized others.  In this course, we will investigate the myriad forms identity takes (particularly nationality, religion, gender, ethnicity, race, sexuality and class); the ways in which notions of identity have informed political norms, structures, and practices; and the modes political theorists have proposed for engaging differences.