Emily Beausoleil

Dr Emily Beausoleil profile picture

Lecturer in Political Science School of History, Philosophy, Political Science & International Relations


  • PhD (Political Theory) - University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • MA (English Literature) - University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  • Bachelor of Humanities (Highest Honours) - Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada


As a political theorist, Emily explores the conditions, challenges, and possibilities of democratic engagement in diverse societies, with a particular focus on artistic and embodied strategies to facilitate listening in politics.  Connecting affect, democratic theory, neuroscience, and the performing arts, Beausoleil’s work responds to compelling calls to find new models for coalition and community by asking how we realise these ideals in concrete terms. She is an Associate Editor for Democratic Theory Journal, Distinguished Global Associate of the Sydney Democracy Network, and on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Public Deliberation. She currently holds a 2017-20 Marsden Fast-Start Fellowship with the Royal Society of New Zealand, and has been published in Political Theory, Contemporary Political Theory, Constellations, Conflict Resolution Quarterly, and Ethics & Global Politics, as well as various books.

Research Areas

Emily's research interests include: democratic theory; aesthetic, performance, cultural theory; critical multicultural and postcolonial theory;  active citizenship and civil society; and affect and embodiment.

Research Projects

Early research focused on the potential and practice of the performing arts as sites of democratic politics, particularly as a potent form of 'voice' for marginalised positions. Recent and current work shifts the emphasis from voice to the attendant challenges and conditions of listening. This began with an examination of the affective and embodied dimensions of receptivity, and how embodied practices might be used to facilitate listening and accountability in politics (funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada [SSHRC]).

Current research extends this to consider a wider range of contextual factors and cross-sectoral practices that may contribute to listening. Her Marsden Fast-Start, 'Hearing the Difference: New Strategies for Listening in Contemporary Politics,' connects practical insight from ‘master listeners’ from four sectors - conflict mediation, therapy, performance, and education - to organisations across the country seeking to engage and move communities regarding issues of structural injustice, to design forms of democratic engagement regarding this issue that are tailored to cultivate the conditions for listening. Ultimately, this interdisciplinary and experimental approach to the question of listening aims to contribute to current theory and practice regarding how we translate democratic ideals – receptivity, responsiveness, accountability – into practical realities. More information on this research can be found here.


Emily welcomes supervision of theses in contemporary political theory on areas such as: democratic theory and practice (incl. radical democratic, deliberative, agonist democracy); multicultural theory and practice; postcolonial and decolonial theory; poststructural theory; affect and embodiment; aesthetics and performance; and any topic related to how we enact politics - particularly democratic politics - in everyday life.

Recent Publications

  • “What is Populism? Who is the Populist? A State of the Field Review (2008–2018).” Co-authored with Jean-Paul Gagnon, Kyong-Min Son, Cleve Arguelles, and Callum N Johnston. Democratic Theory Journal 5.2 (Winter 2018)
  • “Civics, Citizenship, and Political Literacy Education for a Diversifying Nation.” (third author, with Jane Verbitsky, Damon Salesa, Alex Tan, Nigel Parsons, Riki Welsh, and Josiah Tualamali’i). Our Civic Future: Civics, Citizenship, and Political Literacy in Aotearoa New Zealand. Public Discussion Paper. New Zealand Political Studies Association, Wellington, 2018.
  • “Gathering at the Gate: Listening Intergenerationally as Precursor to Settler-Indigenous Encounter.” Women Talking Politics (December 2018): 36-38.
  • “Twenty-First Century Citizenship: Critical, Global, Active.” Citizenship: Past and Present. Ed. Andrew Brown. Palmerston North, NZ: Massey University Press, 2017.
  • “Responsibility as Responsiveness: Enacting a Dispositional Ethics of Encounter.” Political Theory 45.3 (June 2017): 291-318.
  • “Resist and Revivify: Democratic Theory in a Time of Defiance.” Co-authored with Jean-Paul Gagnon. Democratic Theory Journal 4.1 (Winter 2016): 1-10.
  • “Mastery of Knowledge or Meeting of Subjects? The Epistemic Effects of Two Forms of Political Voice.” Contemporary Political Theory 5.1 (Feb 2016): 16-37.
  • “Marginalised Voices, Dominant Listening: Designing for Democratic Engagement in Unequal Societies.” Women Talking Politics (December 2015): 12-13.
  • “Non-Western Theories of Democracy.” Co-authored with Mark Chou. Democratic Theory Journal 2.2 (Winter 2015): 1-7.
  • “Embodying an Ethics of Response-ability.” borderlands. Special Issue:The Limits of Responsibility.Ed. Jenny Lawn, Kim Worthington and Allen Meek. 14.2 (December 2015): 1-16.
  • “‘Only They Breathe’: Gender, Agency and the Dancing Body Politic.” Constellations 21.1 (April 2014): 111-33.
  • “The Science, Politics and Art of Receptivity.” Ethics and Global Politics 7.1 (March 2014): 19-40.
  • “What Moves Us: The Neuroscience and Dance of Conflict Transformation.” Co-authored with Michelle LeBaron. Conflict Resolution Quarterly 31.2 (January 2014): 133-58.
  • “Political Actors: Theatre as Democratic Practice in Apartheid South Africa.” Doing Democracy: Activist Art and Cultural Politics. Ed. Nancy Love and Mark Mattern. New York: SUNY, 2013.

Selected Keynotes and Conference Papers

  • Waharoa (Gather Your People): Learning to Listen Intergenerationally as Settlers. Politics of Listening Conference. University of New South Wales, Sydney, Nov 29-30, 2018.
  • Receptivity as Martial Art: Listening for a Disruptive Prefigurative Politics. Centre for Social and Political Thought, University of Victoria. Victoria, BC, Canada. Sept 27, 2018.
  • Listening to Claims of Structural Injustice: Challenges and Directions for Receptivity, Relation,and Response from Advantaged Groups. Department of Political Science Speaker Series, University of Victoria. Victoria, BC, Canada. Sept 11, 2018.
  • Listening as Norm and Strategy for Structural Justice. American Political Science Association Annual Conference. Boston, MA. Aug 29-Sept 2, 2018.
  • Right to Speak, Responsibility to Listen: Centring Listening in and for Democratic Politics. Demarcating Democratic Inclusion: Citizenship, Participation, and Acceptance. Justitia Amplificata Annual Conference. Goethe University and Free University Berlin, Frankfurt, Germany. July 12-13, 2018.
  • Deliberating In Unequal Societies: Literal Risks, Performative Possibilities. Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance. University of Canberra, Australia. Oct 31, 2017.
  • Listening to Claims of Structural Injustice. Beyond Voice: Prospects and Challenges of Listening in Democracy. Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance. University of Canberra, Australia. Oct 30, 2017.
  • Breaking Through: How Power Makes It Hard to Listen and What We Can Do About It. Keynote Address. Spring Uprising Festival. Wellington, New Zealand. Sept 21, 2017.
  • Hearing the Difference: Inequality and Receptivity in Aotearoa New Zealand. American Political Science Association Annual Conference. San Francisco, CA. Aug 31-Sept 3, 2017.
  • Hearing the 'People': Insulation, Fragility, and the Challenge of Receptivity Among Dominant Groups. Populism and ‘Constructing a People’: Ideology and Discourse Analysis International Conference 2017. University of Essex, UK, 2-3 June 2017.
  • Breaking Sound Barriers: How the Arts Help Us Listen in Diverse Societies. Keynote Address. Spring Uprising Festival. Wellington, New Zealand. November 19, 2016.
  • Responsibility as Responsiveness. Politics, Aesthetics, and Movement Reading Group. Organised by Dean of Community and Culture, Emily Carr University, Vancouver, BC, Canada. October 12, 2016.