- BA, Politics, University of California, Santa Cruz
- PhD, Political Science, Northwestern University
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.
Her most recent book The Gratifications of Whiteness: W.E.B. Du Bois and the Enduring Rewards of Antiblackness (Oxford University Press, 2022), examines W.E. B. Du Bois’s account of racialized identity in the U.S. Specifically, Myers argues that Du Bois's middle-period work (1920-1940) offers a complex, pluralistic analysis of the workings of American whiteness. This analysis includes his well-known account of the "public and psychological wage," but as the book shows, Du Bois does not reduce whiteness to any single meaning or function. His writings invite us to recognize that whiteness not only delivers meaningful status benefits within the terms of racial capitalism "wage"). It is also forged & sustained through sadistic investments in Black pain ("pleaure") and by way of a lived faith animated by the conviction that “whiteness is ownership of the earth, forever and ever, Amen!” ("dominion"). The book creatively extends Du Bois's polyvalent theory of whiteness into the present and explores these entrenched patterns of gratification might be undone.
Ella Myers (2019). Beyond the Psychological Wage: Du Bois on White Dominion. Political Theory.