Dr. Avigail Eisenberg

Dr. Avigail  Eisenberg
Professor and Chair
Political Science

PhD (1991) (Queen's)

Office: DTB A349

Chair Office: DTB A316b
Phone: 250-853-3528
E-mail: chairpol@uvic.ca

April - June 2018 office hours:

By appointment.


Avigail Eisenberg is a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria.

In 2009 she completed a book entitled Reasons of Identity: A Normative Guide to the Political and Legal Assessment of Identity Claims (Oxford, 2009) which examines the ways in which public institutions interpret the identities of religious, indigenous, linguistic and ethnic minority groups in their decision making.

She has put together numerous conferences and workshops on the topics which have resulted several collections of research papers, the most recent of which is entitled How Institutions Assess Identity, co-edited with Will Kymlicka (UBC Press, 2011). 

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

  • Democratic theory
  • Normative political theory
  • History of ideas (19th-20th C)
  • Pluralism
  • Identity politics

Dr. Eisenberg teaches courses on democratic theory and identity politics.

Teaching 2017-18

Fall 2017:

Spring 2018:

Courses taught
  • POLI 305: Diversity, Pluralism and Difference
    Why is human diversity a problem for democratic politics and what are the main political approaches to diversity in the contemporary era? This course examines the challenges that different kinds of diversity (ethnic, religious, racial, national, gendered) pose for democracy. In the first part, we look at the four leading approaches to diversity - multiculturalism, recognition, difference, and agonistic pluralism – and the strengths and limits of each approach in relation to ethnic and religious diversity, indigenous rights, gender differences, and other forms of social inequality. The second part focuses on the main challenges to these approaches which have become especially important in the last 30 years: the problem of unity (or solidarity) vs difference, different interests vs different identities (and what difference this makes), the role of the state in managing (or manipulating) diversity, and the problem of inclusion. The final question is whether any of the approaches examined offers a convincing post-imperialist understanding of diversity and democracy.
  • POLI 433/533: Minority Rights and Identity Politics

For further information, contact

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