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Lawrie Balfour

James Hart Professor of Politics
Office Hours: Mondays 12:30-2:30 | Gibson S395


Ph.D. Politics, Princeton University

Field and Specialties:

African American political thought, politics and literature, feminist theory, democracy and culture

Lawrie Balfour is the author of Toni Morrison: Imagining Freedom (Oxford University Press),  Democracy’s Reconstruction: Thinking Politically with W. E. B. Du Bois (Oxford University Press) ,and The Evidence of Things Not Said: James Baldwin and the Promise of American Democracy (Cornell University Press). Her articles on race, gender, and democracy have appeared in Political Theory, American Quarterly, Perspectives on Politics, American Political Science Review, Hypatia, The Du Bois Review, Annual Review of Political Science, and other journals and edited volumes. She is currently working on a book (provisionally) entitled Reparations Unbound: Dilemmas of Dismantling Racial Injustice.

Balfour is a 2020-21 Guggenheim Fellow and member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. She has held fellowships from the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, the Center for the Study of Values in Public Life at Harvard Divinity School, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. A recipient of multiple teaching awards, she was Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Associate Professor for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University in 2008-2009; a visiting faculty member at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris in May 2012; and a member of the faculty of the Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory in Bologna in 2017. She served as John G. Winant Visiting Professor of American Government at Oxford University in 2023.

From 2017-21, Balfour was the Editor of Political Theory: An International Journal of Political Philosophy. She also serves or has served on the editorial boards of the Political TheoryAmerican Political Science ReviewPolitical Research Quarterly; Politics, Groups, and Identities; and the Journal of Politics. Balfour was Director of Fellowships at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies from 2011-2013 and Interim Chair of Politics from January 2014-January 2015. She has been a core faculty member of UVA’s American Studies Department since 2016.


Toni Morrison: Imagining Freedom Oxford University Press (2023)

The Politics of Reparations for Black Americans Annual Review of Political Science (2023)

"To Manipulate American English": Toni Morrison's Word-Work as a Practice of Freedom American Quarterly (2021)

"Toni Morrison and the Fugitives' Democracy" in African American Political Thought: A Collected History University of Chicago Press (2020)

A Discussion of Russell Muirhead and Nancy L. Rosenblum’s A Lot of People Are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy Perspectives on Politics (2020)

"Living 'in the Red': Time, Debt, and Justice," in To Shape a New World: The Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Harvard University Press (2018)

Democracy's Reconstruction: Thinking Politically with W.E.B. Du Bois Oxford University Press (2011)

The Evidence of Things Not Said: James Baldwin and the Promise of American Democracy Cornell University Press (2000)

Courses Taught:

"African American Political Thought," "Politics & Literature," "Feminist Political Theory," "Freedom, Empire & Slavery," "Race, Gender, Power"