Ella Myers is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and the Program in Gender Studies. She is an award-winning teacher of political and feminist theory. Her courses include Intro to Political Theory, Modern Political Theory, Contemporary Political Theory, Economic Inequality & Democracy, Feminist Political Theory, and Gender, Power & Freedom, among others.
Her research focuses on contemporary democratic theory. She is especially interested in the distribution of political power and practices of collective resistance through which ordinary citizens strive to shape the conditions of their lives. Her first major body of research focused on the role played by "ethos" or spirit in encouraging – or discouraging – associative forms of democratic action in the American polity. Her book Worldly Ethics: Democratic Politics and Care for the World (Duke University Press, 2013) engages closely with the writings of Foucault, Levinas, and Arendt to argue against both therapeutic and charitable models of ethics and on behalf of a world-centered ethos, which Myers argues is uniquely suited to the practice of associative democracy. She has also published work on Isaiah Berlin’s pluralism, Jacques Rancière’s account of radical equality, and the workings of neoliberal common sense.
She is currently writing a book on the thought of W.E.B. Du Bois titled Economies of Anti-Blackness: Du Bois and the Gratifications of Whiteness in the 21st Century. The project conceptualizes three crucial economies of anti-blackness drawn from Du Bois’s 1920-1940 writings – psychological, affective, and libidinal – to examine the conditions of racial capitalism in the U.S. today. Myers’s analysis challenges the tendency to interpret contemporary white identity in passive terms – as a site of automatic “privilege” – or as marked by racialized deficits (white indifference, white ignorance). Myers argues that Du Bois’s insights can help expose a neglected and crucial dimension of contemporary racial domination: the extent to which white Americans remain positively attached to public practices of anti-blackness as sources of psychological, affective, and libidinal gratification.