Department of Political Science

Dr. Stella Gaon

Dr. Stella Gaon

Professor, Political Science Department
BA Hons, MA (Concordia), PhD (U of T)

Office: McNally North 402
Phone: 902-420-5843

Teaching Focus

History of political thought, 18th and 19th century political philosophy, democratic theory and cosmopolitanism, theories of the state, Marxist political theory, political ideology.

Current Research

My research is aimed at reformulating the normative grounds of critical political theory following contemporary continental critiques of modern political thought. I am interested primarily in questions concerning political action and political critique, particularly as these relate to the political-philosophical theme of "otherness" and the possibilities for emancipatory change.

I bring a range of social and political-philosophical resources to bear on these questions, including Frankfurt School critical theory, post-Marxist critical theory, post-structural social and political thought, critical legal theory, psychoanalysis, critical race theory and feminist studies. These approaches intersect with respect to the question of how to understand the moral grounds and effective possibilities of critique in the wake of the current crisis of ethical and political legitimacy.

I am currently developing these themes in two book-length studies: Risking Deconstruction: Critical Theory and the Politics of Educational Thought , and Beyond Legitimacy: Politics, Law and the State .

Significant Career Contributions

Lead organizer and chair of Democracy in Crisis: Violence, Alterity, Community, an international, interdisciplinary workshop. Sponsored by the SSHRC and Saint Mary's University, in collaboration with the University of King's College. Held at Saint Mary's University, June 22-24, 2007.

Co-coordinator of the public lecture series, Trust in Freedom of Expression, sponsored by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, and mounted in collaboration with Saint Mary's University. Fall 2007.

Lead organizer and director of a series of inter-university, interdisciplinary, faculty seminar sessions in social and political thought. Held at Saint Mary's University in May 2005, August 2005, and May 2006.

Recent Publications


The Lucid Vigil: Deconstruction, Desire and the Politics of Critique. Routledge, forthcoming in 2019.

Democracy in Crisis: Violence, Alterity, Community. Edited and introduced by Stella Gaon. Manchester University Press, 2010.


Articles (Peer-Reviewed)

Il La Faut (La Logique), Yes, yes: Deconstruction's Critical Force. Derrida Today 11:2 (2018) : 196-210

More than Life: Human Dignity and the Problem of Rights. Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 48:4 (2015): 77-92.

As if there were a 'Jew': The (non) existence of deconstructive resposibility. Darrida Today 7:1 (2014) 44-58

Why Must I? A Freudian Response to the Question of Ethical-Political Responsibility. Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 44:4 (2011) 79-93.‌‌

When was 9/11? Philosophy and the Terror of Futurity. Philosophy & Social Criticism 34:4 (2008): 339-356.

Communities in Question: Sociality and Solidarity in Nancy and Blanchot. Journal for Cultural Research 9:4 (2005). 387-403.

Judging Justice: The Strange Responsibility of Deconstruction. Philosophy & Social Criticism 30:1 (2004). 97-114.

Education qua Enlightenment: On the Rationality of the Principle of Reason. Philosophy of Education 2002. Urbana, Illinois: Philosophy of Education Society. 2003.

The Undecidable Grounds of Scientific Expertise: Science Education and the Limits of Intellectual Independence. Co-written with Stephen Norris. Journal of Philosophy of Education 35:2 (2001). 187-201.

Politicizing Deconstruction: On Not Treating Specters of Marx. Rethinking MARXISM 11:2 (1999): 38-48.

Pluralizing Universal Man: The Legacy of Transcendentalism and Teleology in Habermas's Discourse Ethics. The Review of Politics 60:4 (1998). 685-718.


Articles (Non-Refereed)

“From Communication to Mediation.” Review of Jürgen Habermas: Democracy and the Public Sphere , by Luke Goode. The Review of Politics 69, no. 3 (2007): 480-84.

“Renovating Critical Theory.” Review of Democracy, Power, and Legitimacy: The Critical Theory of Jürgen Habermas , by O. Payrow Shabani. The Review of Politics 66, no. 2 (2004): 342-45.

Review of Just Cause: Freedom, Identity, and Rights , by Drucilla Cornell. Review of Constitutional Studies/Revue d'études constitutionnelles 8, no. 1 (2003): 101-103.

Review of Revolutionary Social Transformation: Democratic Hopes, Political Possibilities and Critical Education , by Paula Allman. Philosophy in Review/Comptes rendus philosophiques XX, no. 3 (2000): 81-82.


Book Sections

“Introduction.” Democracy in Crisis, Violence, Alterity, Community. Ed. S. Gaon. Manchester University Press, 2009.

“Alterity as democracy-to-come.” Democracy in Crisis, Violence, Alterity, Community. Ed. S. Gaon. Manchester University Press, 2009

"Ethics." Critical Concepts: An Introduction to Politics. 3rd edition. Ed. Janine Brodie and Sandra Rein. Scarborough, Canada: Prentice Hall, 2005.


Conference Papers

"Derrida, Freud, Laplanche: Deconstructing Self-Sovereignty." Presented at the 4th Derrida Today Conference, May 28-31, 2014, Fordham University, New York, NY, USA.

"More than Life: Human Dignity and the Problem of Rights." Presented at the A Matter of Life/Death Mosaic Conference, October 1-4, 2014, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

"As if there were a 'Jew': The (non)existence of deconstructive responsibility." Presented at the 3rd Derrida Today Conference, July 11-13, 2012, University of California at Irvine, Irvine CA, USA.

“Why Must I: A Freudian response to the question of ethical-political responsibility in deconstruction.” Presented at the Freud after Derrida, International, Interdisciplinary Mosaic conference, Oct 6-9, 2010, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg.

“This resistance which is not one. Presented at the 2nd “Derrida Today” International Conference, July 19-21, 2010, Goodenough College, Bloomsbury, London, UK.

“Democracy: Its premise and promise, its crisis and its critique.” Presented at the Problems of Democracy: Probing the Boundaries 1st Global Conference, April 30- May 2, 2010, Prague, Czech Republic.

“Words are Things too: A Post-Marxist, Materialist Analysis of the Political.” Presented at the 60th Annual Political Studies (PSA) Annual Conference, in conjunction with the British International Studies Association (BISA) Poststructural Politics Working Group (PPWG), March 29 -April 1, 2010, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

"Two Sides of the Same Sword: The Uses and Abuses of Human Rights Rhetoric.”  Presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Association for Philosophy and Literature (IAPL), Brunel University, London, UK, June 1-7, 2009.

“Democracy in Crisis: Violence, Alterity, Community. Introduction.” Canadian Political Science Association annual meeting, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, June 4-6, 2008.

“Why are Human Rights Right ? The Fundamentalist and Nationalist Character of International Human Rights.” Global International Studies Conference, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia, July 23-26, 2008.

"Re-evaluating the Value of Difference: Democracy as the Praxis of Cr itique." Immigration, Minorities, and Multiculturalism in Democracies. Public Conference, Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, Montréal, Quebec, October 25-27, 2007.

"Alterity as the Democracy to Come." Democracy in Crisis: Violence, Alterity, Community. Saint Mary's University, June 22-23, 2007.

"Derrida's desire... for justice." Following Derrida: Legacies, Mosaic conference. University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, October 4-7, 2006.

"Politicizing Textuality: The Mutual Mediation of Politics and the Literary." Annual meeting of the International Association for Philosophy and Literature. University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany, June 5-10, 2006.

"Materializing the Other: The Alterity of Rhetoric and the Rhetoric of Alterity." European Consortium for Political Research conference, Political Theory section. Corvinus University, Budapest, Budapest, Hungary, September 8-10, 2005.

"Globalizing Democracy? Human Rights, Citizenship, and the Cosmopolitan Ideal." Annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association . Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities of Canada, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, June 2-4, 2005.

"Globalization, Democratization and the Promise of Cosmopolitical Right: The Danger of Justice without Exception." Annual meeting of the British International Studies Association. University of Warwick, Coventry, UK, December 20-22, 2004.

"Beyond Sovereignty: Sociality and Solidarity in a Community of the Question." Contemporary Governance and the Question of the Social. University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, June 11-13, 2004.

"(De)Constructions of Diversity: From Difference to différance ." Annual conference of the Political Studies Association. University of Leicester, Leicester, UK, April 15-17, 2003.


Awards and Distinctions

SSHRC Individual Connection Grant, co-investigator (2017)

Grant in Aid of Research, SMU Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (2009)

Aid to Research Workshops and Conferences, SSHRC (2007).

Grant in Aid of Research, SMU Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (2004).

Grant Notley Memorial Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Alberta (2002).

A bibtex copy of this list can be found here.