Assistant Professor, Director of Placement & Pre-Law Faculty Affiliate Advisor
About Professor Erlenbusch
Verena Erlenbusch (DPhil, University of Sussex) joined the department in 2013. Before coming to Memphis, she taught at St. Mary's University and the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, TX. In spring and summer 2011, she was a Visiting Scholar at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.
Verena's research is anchored in the tradition of critical theory and aims to elaborate a methodological framework appropriate for a form of social inquiry into pressing ethical, political, and cultural issues that is both diagnostic and normative. The primary focus of her current work concerns the historical formation of present practices and discourses of terrorism. She has recently completed a book manuscript on this topic, titled Genealogies of Terrorism: Revolution, State Terror, Empire. The central thesis developed in the book is that terrorism emerged at the end of the eighteenth century as the correlate of new forms of power that sought to invest and improve life. On this view, terrorism appears as a mechanism of social defense whose purpose is to justify the use of state violence to protect the life of the population against internal and external threats. Drawing on extensive archival research, she examines the French Revolution; late-imperial and Bolshevik Russia; colonized Algeria; and post-9/11 American domestic and foreign policy in order to show that discourses, institutions, devices, methods, tactics, and technologies of terrorism and counter-terrorism developed in these contexts make possible and coalesce in contemporary formations of terrorism.
Verena is currently working on a series of articles that bring into conversation Foucaultian genealogy and decolonial theory in order to systematically elaborate a method of critical inquiry that avoids Eurocentrism in philosophical concept formation and normative reconstruction. She is also at work on her second book, tentatively titled A Critical Theory of Terrorism, which aims to supplement the diagnostic project of her first book with the normative task of articulating a critical concept of terrorism that may serve as a useful tool for thinking otherwise about the conceptual, political, and ethical challenges of terrorism.
Verena regularly teaches courses in Political Philosophy and Philosophy of Law, and she offers the pre-law Fresh Connection section of PHIL 1102: Values in the Modern World. She has also taught courses on the history of sovereignty, Foucault and race, Critical Race Theory, Kafka and German-Jewish Philosophy, Kafka and American Criminal Justice, and the metaphysics of sex and gender.
Verena serves as Director of Placement and as the pre-law Faculty Affiliate Advisor for the Philosophy Department. She is also affiliated with the Center for Research on Women and the International Studies Program.
You can read an APA member interview with Verena here.
Recent & Forthcoming Publications
- "Being a Foreigner in Philosophy: A Taxonomy." Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy (forthcoming).
- "Modeling Inclusive Pedagogy: Five Approaches" with Luvell Anderson. Journal of Social Philosophy (forthcoming).
- "From Race War to Socialist Racism: Foucault's Second Transcription." Foucault Studies 22, 2017, 134-152.
- "Foucault's Sad Heterotopology of the Body." philoSOPHIA: A Journal in Continental Feminism 6 (2), 2016, 171-194.
- "Terrorism and Revolutionary Violence: The Emergence of Terrorism in the French Revolution." Critical Studies on Terrorism 8(2), 2015, 193-210.
- "Foucault und die Realitätsbedingungen leiblicher Erfahrung" (Foucault and the Conditions of Existence of Embodied Experience). In Leib - Körper - Politik, edited by Thomas Bedorf and Tobias Klass. Velbrück Wissenschaft, 2015.
- "Terrorism: Knowledge, Power, Subjectivity," in Critical Methods in Terrorism Studies, edited by Jacob Stump and Priya Dixit. Routledge, 2015, 108-120.
- "How (Not) to Study Terrorism." Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 17 (4), 2014, 470-491.
- "The Place of Sovereignty: Mapping Power with Agamben, Butler, and Foucault," Critical Horizons 14 (2013): 44-69.
- "The Concept of Sovereignty in Contemporary Continental Political Philosophy," Philosophy Compass 7 (2012): 365-75.
Recent & Upcoming Presentations
- "Genealogy and Normative Reconstruction: Towards a Critical Theory of Terrorism." Philosophy and Social Science Conference, Institute of Philosophy at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague, Czech Republic. May 17-21.
- "The Spatiality of History: Critical Theory and Coloniality of Power." 10th International Critical Theory Conference of Rome, Loyola University Chicago, Rome Campus, Rome, Italy. May 11-13.
- "Genealogies of Terrorism." Colloquium talk. Department of Philosophy, University of Oregon, OR. April 20, 2017.
- "Towards a Critical Concept of Terrorism." Department of Philosophy, University of Oregon, OR. April 19, 2017.
- "The Power of Colonization: Revisiting Foucault on Discipline." Western Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC. April 11-13.
- "The Spatiality of History: Genealogy and Coloniality of Power." Foucault Circle Annual Meeting, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA. March 23-25.
- "Ways of Doing Genealogy: Inquiry after Foucault." A Group Interview with Verena Erlenbusch, Simon Ganahl, Robert W. Gehl, Thomas Nail, and Perry Zurn. Invited contribution for foucaultblog, June 7, 2016.
- "From Sovereignty to War: Foucault's Analytic of Power." Invited contribution for E-International Relations, December 12, 2015.
- "Neoliberalism and the Genealogy of Biopolitics." Invited contribution to a mini-series (with Johanna Oksala, Gordon Hull, and Thomas Nail) on Foucault and neoliberalism for An und für sich. An anomalous humanities blog, December 31, 2014.