ABF Affiliated Research Professor Bonnie Honig (Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Modern Culture and Media and Political Science at Brown University) is among the list of recipients of the 2023 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, announced earlier this month.
The Guggenheim Memorial Foundation offers year-long fellowships to exceptional academics and artists in pursuit of scholarship in any field of knowledge and creation of any art form under the freest possible conditions. This year, almost 2,500 applicants were vetted in a vigorous peer-review process on the basis of prior achievements and project proposals.
Honig’s contemporary work at Brown examines the intersection of political theory, media, and cultural studies, focusing on received scripts that limit or launch collective action in democratic settings. The Guggenheim Fellowship will allow her the time and resources to complete her book project, Doing Things with Words: Virality and Performativity in Democratic and Queer Theory. In the book, Honig will explore how the definition of performative speech has changed over the decades and the transformative power of words.
“I am grateful to the Guggenheim Foundation for supporting a project in democratic, queer, and legal theory focused on the power of language to join people together as equals in democratic purpose. My years at the ABF have prepared me for this work,” Honig said. “We live in a time when words are harvested (decontextualized clips used in attack ads) and generated by AI, and when speech is newly policed by ‘don’t say gay’ laws. I think it is important to recover the power of words, still, to bring us together and to make us equal.”
Honig joined the ABF as a Research Professor in 1997, where she developed several of her award-winning book projects. Democracy and the Foreigner (Princeton University Press, 2001) posits an intriguing argument relating the legitimacy of democracy to a law that is essentially “foreign,” sparking a national debate about the role of immigrants and imported norms in the United States. Her ABF research project, “Has the King Become a Tyrant? Paradoxes of Law and Democracy” examined the opportunities that exist within the frame of emergency politics for democratic action. This project resulted in Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2009), which won the David Easton Award from the American Political Science Association. Her last ABF research project produced the book Antigone, Interrupted (Cambridge University Press, 2013), which examined the role of this classical text both in fifth-century Athens and in contemporary democratic and legal theory.
“We are so proud at the ABF that Professor Honig is getting this recognition,” said ABF’s Interim Executive Director Bryant Garth. “One of the great and unrecognized contributions the ABF makes to law and legal theory is to attract brilliant and innovative scholars ostensibly from outside law—in Professor Honig’s case political theory—in a process that potentially brings novel insights to both law and other disciplines. Professor Honig enriched the ABF by her presence, and it is gratifying to see that her time at the ABF helped prepare her to produce cutting edge legal, as well as political, theory.”
About the American Bar Foundation
The American Bar Foundation (ABF) is the world’s leading research institute for the empirical and interdisciplinary study of law. The ABF seeks to expand knowledge and advance justice through innovative, interdisciplinary, and rigorous empirical research on law, legal processes, and legal institutions. To further this mission the ABF will produce timely, cutting-edge research of the highest quality to inform and guide the legal profession, the academy, and society in the United States and internationally. The ABF’s primary funding is provided by the American Bar Endowment and the Fellows of The American Bar Foundation.