Dr. Avigail Eisenberg

Dr. Avigail  Eisenberg
Political Science

PhD (1991) (Queen's)


On leave 1Jul18-30Jun19

Office: DTB A349
On leave July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019


Avigail Eisenberg is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria. From 2013-18 she was Chair of the Department.

She has published two monographs - Reasons of Identity: A Normative Guide to the Political and Legal Assessment of Identity Claims (Oxford, 2009) and Reconstructing Political Pluralism (SUNY 1995) - both of which focus on different forms of group-based politics.

She has convened numerous conferences and workshops which have resulted in several collections of research papers, the most recent of which is a special issue on Accommodation and the Crisis of Multiculturalism co-edited with Patti Lenard and published in Law and Ethics of Human Rights, (10:2, 2016), and Recognition versus Self-Determination, (Vancouver BC: UBC Press, 2014) co-edited with Jeremy Webber, Glen Coulthard and Andree Boiselle.

Her contributions also include co-founding the Victoria Colloquium on Legal and Political Thought, and the Consortium on Democratic Constitutionalism based at the University of Victoria.

  • Democratic theory
  • Normative political theory
  • History of ideas (19th-20th C)
  • Pluralism
  • Multiculturalism/Identity politics
Teaching 2018-19: Study leave July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019Courses taught

POLI 305 – Democracy and Diversity

This course examines some of the leading approaches to explaining the rise of group politics today and how they each propose to meet the challenges posed by these politics to familiar ideals of citizenship and inclusion. It begins by examining the emergence of liberal multiculturalism and the politics of recognition and then turns to feminism, post-colonialism, and other critical perspectives regarding group diversity and difference in politics today.

POLI 533/633/LAW 343 – Democracy and Disobedience

This course examines political theories and strategies of disobedience and resistance. Do citizens have an obligation to obey unjust laws? Which strategies of dissent and law breaking are successful? Does disruptive protest damage democratic community or can it be democratizing? Is violent resistance ever justified? The course begins by asking how we should understand the scope of resistance including (egs) the problems of complicity, publicity, transparency, civility and democratic community. It examines the ways in which resistance and disobedience rely on particular political subjects and how they view themselves in relation to others. We consider some of the leading scholarly texts about disobedience alongside the manifestos of social movements or reflections about groups such as Black Lives Matter, INCITE, Earth First!, Standing Rock camp, the Levelers, Diggers, and Occupy to name some examples.

POLI 533/633 – Identity Politics

This course explores the political theory behind 'identity politics', including how it is supposed to advance ideals such as equality, democratic inclusion and emancipation and the reasons why it sometimes fails to do so. It begins by looking at how 'identity' and 'identity claims' are situated in liberal, republican, and post-colonial political thought. It then turns to case studies to look at some of the reasons why this kind of politics sometimes fails to meet its promise. The final part of the course examines the political construction of personal identity in relation to borders and security.

Books (monographs and edited)

Chapters and Journal Articles (selected)

  • Religion as Identity, Law and Ethics of Human Rights 10:2 (2016), 295-317.
  • Group Pluralism versus Group Accommodation: A commentary on Jean Cohen Netherlands Journal of Legal Philosophy 44(3) 211-220.
  • The Political Assessment of Religious Authenticity. In Authenticity, Autonomy and Multiculturalism Geoff Levey (ed.) London: Routlege, pp. 145-62.
  • "Voting rights for non-citizens: Treasure or Fool’s Gold?," Journal of International Migration and Integration, 2014.
  • "How should public institutions assess religious identity?: The case of polygamy," Polygamy’s Rights and Wrongs, Gillian Calder and Lori Beaman (eds.), Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014: 46-68.
  • "Rights in the Age of Identity Politics," Osgoode Hall Law Journal 50 2013: 609-36.
  • "Indigenous Cultural Rights and Identity Politics in Canada," Review of Constitutional Studies 18:1 2013: 89-109.
  • "Identity Politics and the Risks of Essentialism," Liberal Multiculturalism and Fair Terms of Integration, Peter Balint and Sophie de la Tour (eds.) London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013: 159-76. 
  •  "À La Défense des Droit Culturels: Réponse à Jean LeClair," Recherches Amérindiennes au Québec XLI: 1 2012, pp. 111-15.
  • "Pluralism and Method at the Turn of the Century” Modern Pluralism: Anglo-American Debates since 1880, Mark Bevir ed., Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 60-80. 2012.
  • "La discriminación pública de la identidad religiosa: La criminalización de las prácticas poligámicas de los mormones en Canadá," HACIA UNA SOCIEDAD POST-SECUL: La gestión de la nueva diversidad religiosa, Francisco Colom González y Ana López Sala (eds.), Madrid: Fundación Jiménez Abad. 2012
  • "Domestic and International Norms for the Assessment of Indigenous Identity" in A. Eisenberg and W. Kymlicka eds., Identity Politics in the Public Realm. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, pp. 137-62. 2011
  • "Feminism and multiculturalism," The Ashgate Research Companion to Multiculturalism Duncan Ivison ed., London: Ashgate, pp. 119-40. 2010
  • "L’évaluation publique de l’identité autochtone," La Reconnaissance dans tous ses états Michel Seymour ed., Montreal: Québec Amérique, pp. 227-252. 2010
  • "The Public Assessment of Indigenous Identity’ Plural States of Recognition, Michel Seymour and Martin Blanchard eds., London: Palgrave/Macmillan. 2010
  • "Identity, multiculturalism, and religious arbitration: the debate over shari'a law in Canada," Sexual Justice/Cultural Justice, Barbara Arneil, Monique Deveaux, Rita Dhamoon and Avigail Eisenberg, eds. London: Routledge, 211-30. 2007.
  • "Equality, trust and multiculturalism' in Social Capital and Social Diversity," Fiona Kay and Richard Johnston eds. Vancouver: UBC Press, 67-94. 2007.
  • "Reasoning about the identity of Aboriginal people"' in Accommodating Cultural Diversity: Contemporary Issues in Theory and Practice, Stephen Tierney ed., London: Ashgate, pp. 79-97. 2007.
  • "Reasoning about identity: Canada's Distinctive Culture Test," in Diversity and Equality, Avigail Eisenberg ed., Vancouver: UBC Press, pp. 34-53. 2006
  • "New approaches to fundamental freedom in Canada" in Diversity and Equality, Avigail Eisenberg ed., Vancouver: UBC Press, pp. 1-14. 2006.
  • "Pluralism and the Politics of Diversity" in Pluralism: Developments in the Theory and Practice of Democracy, Rainer Eisfeld ed., World of Political Science Series, Germany: Barbara Burdich, 2006, 59-80. 2006.
  • "The Normative Dimensions of Equality" co-written with Colin Macleod; Dimensions of Inequality in Canada, David Green and Jon Kesselman eds., Vancouver: UBC Press, pp. 33-64. 2006
  • "Education and the Politics of Difference," Educational Philosophy and Theory, Special Issue on the Politics of Iris Marion Young, Jan 38(1): 7-23. 2006.
  • "Is Trust a Multicultural Concept?," Social Capital and Social Diversity, Fiona Kay and Richard Johnston eds., Vancouver: UBC Press. 2006
  • with Colin Macleod, "The Normative Dimensions of Equality," Dimensions of Inequality in Canada, David Green and Jon Kesselman eds., Vancouver: UBC Press, 2006.
  • "The Distinctive Culture Test," Human Rights Dialogue Special Issue on Cultural Rights, Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, 12:2 (Spring) 26-7. 2005.
  • "The Limits of Liberal Multiculturalism: A Response to Patrick Loobyck," Ethnicities 5:1 (March 2005): 123-7.
  • with Jeff Spinner-Halev, "Introduction," Minorities with Minorities: Equality, Rights and Diversity, Avigail Eisenberg and Jeff Spinner-Halev eds. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press,pp. 1-18. 2005
  • "Identity and Liberal Politics: The Problem of Minorities within Minorities," Minorities with Minorities: Equality, Rights and Diversity, Avigail Eisenberg and Jeff Spinner-Halev ed. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 249-270. 2005.
  • "Are Referendum on Minority Rights Every Justified?" Representation and Democratic Theory, David Laycock ed., Vancouver: UBC Press, pp. 3-22. 2004.
  • "Diversity and Equality: Three Approaches to Cultural and Sexual Difference," Journal of Political Philosophy 11; 1 (March 2003) 41-64.
  • "Context, Difference, Sex and Social Justice," Canadian Journal of Political Science 35:3 (September 2002) 613-28.
  • "Pluralism, Consociationalism, Group-Differentiated Citizenship and the Problem of Social Cohesion," in Chang Shiyin ed., Collected Works on Sino-Western Political Culture, Tianjin People's Press, Tianjin, pp. 235-62. (Published in Mandarin). 2002

Web Publications

  • 2016 - The Politics of Ethnic Fraud, In Due Course Download December 2016
  • 2014 - Choice or Identity? Dilemmas of Protecting Religious Freedom in Canada. Recode Working Paper Series No. 24 (Jan 2014), Augsburg Germany ISSN 2242-3559 1-15. Download
  • 2012 - Identity politics and public decision-making in Canada: What does success looks like? Canada’s Experience with Pluralism Centre for Global Pluralism website. 500 words, February 17.
  • 2011 - Multiculturalism, Interculturalism and their Skeptics. FEDCAN Equity Issues Portfolio Series, Download 1600 words
  • 2006 - "Reasoning about the identity of Aboriginal people" with Martin Blanchard, Document de Travail/Working Papers 1:1 Spring, 9 pp. http://www.creum.umontreal.ca/IMG/pdf/ATELIERS_VOL1N1_07_103_111.pdf
  • 2005 - "The Distinctive Culture Test" Human Rights Dialogue, Special Issue on Cultural Rights, Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, https://www.carnegiecouncil.org/publications/archive/dialogue/2_12/section_3/5149.html/:pf_printable
  • 2001 - "Ought there to be a Referendum on the BC Treaty Process?' Policy.ca: A Non-Partisan Resource of the Political Analysis of Canadian Policy Issues, http://www.policy.ca/ 12 mss pp.
  • 2001 - "Diversity and equality: Three approaches to cultural and sexual difference,"Constitutionalism Web-Papers (C onWEB), http://www.les1.man.ac.uk/conweb/, 24 mss pp.
  • 2000 - "Citizenship and the Recognition of Cultural Diversity" website of the Canadian Policy Research Network, http://www.cprn.org/doc.cfm?doc=696&l=en , 5 mss pp.
Dr. Eisenberg's CSPT Colloquium presentation on April 2, 2014, "How Religious Freedom is Changing Citizenship"
Ethnic and Democratic Governance, LearnOutLoud.com, Download

Featured publications:

Diversity and Equality Identity Politics in the Public Realm Painting the Maple Reasons of Identity Recognition versus Self-Determination Sexual Justice/Cultural Justice Reconstructing Pluralism