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ARSC 1492 (Ramirez): Ferguson

Michaele Ferguson

Michaele Fergusson

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Michaele L. Ferguson is Associate Professor of Political Science and Faculty Associate in the Women and Gender Studies Program at the University of Colorado at Boulder.  She has several publications, as well as articles in feminist and democratic theory.  She is currently working on an article called "What is Neoliberalism?" and on a book entitled Taming the Shrew:  The Rise of Neoliberal Feminism in America.  Together with James Rowe of the University of Victoria, she is in the early stages of curating a collection of the political writings of Tibetan Buddhist Chögyum Trungpa, tentatively entitled Mindful Political Theory.  She is co-chair with Steven Johnston of Foundations of Political Theory for the 2014 American Political Science Association meetings, and she serves on the editorial board of Philosophy and Rhetoric.  She is also the author of a blog about mentoring in political theory, The Theoretical Mentor.

She’s been a visiting research fellow at the University of Utah, a visiting lecturer at the University of Washington, and currently is an associate professor at CU Boulder.

She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard and her A.B. in Philosophy and in Comparative Literature from Bryn Mawr College.

Research Overview:

  • Research composed of two areas of political theory:
    • democratic and feminist theory.
  • contributions to democratic theory aim at the development of a post-foundationalist account of democracy.
    • Which theorize democracy in the absence of guarantees that historically have grounded democratic politics
  • Ferguson’s contributions to feminist theory focus on reflections on feminism as a social movement that has only partially transformed gendered power relations in the U.S. and around the world.
    •  She analyzes how feminist ideas have successfully pervaded political discourse, why they have been successful, and why despite this success, gender equality remains elusive.

Additional Readings About the Author

Challenge & Exploration

Iris Young studied a variety of social justice movements in order to clarify what “oppression” means – and she found that it is a much more complicated concept in practice than many academics had assumed in theory.  The big question is:  what can we learn about how to think about politics by studying how activists speak and act?

Tasks: Consider how to study political ideas by studying contemporary political and social movements. 

  • Pick a contemporary political or social movement (possible examples:  fossil fuel divestment, anti-sweatshop movement, marriage equality, transgender rights, the Tea Party)
    • What claims does the movement make about oppression?
    • Which of the five faces of oppression are they invoking?
  • ​Locate two viewpoints around the issue.
    • Analysis of source/ Source evaluation
      • Describe the source structure.
      • What is the primary claim?
      • Who is the primary audience?
      • How does the author appeal to the audience?
      • What potential solutions are described?


Tools & Resources


Background Readings:

Explore these sources to gather ideas and background.


Search Tools: 

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