Bonnie Honig is a political and legal theorist specialized in democratic and feminist theory. She is Sarah Rebecca Roland Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University and Senior Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation. She received her PhD from Johns Hopkins University and her undergraduate degree from Concordia University in Montreal.
In 2012, Prof. Honig was the recipient David Easton Prize of the Foundations of Political Theory section of the American Political Science Association for her book Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law, Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2009). She also won the Okin-Young Award in Feminist Political Theory for "Ismene's Forced Choice: Sacrifice and Sorority in Sophocles' Antigone." This award is made by the APSA’s Women’s Caucus for Political Science.
Prof. Honig taught at Harvard University for several years before moving to Northwestern University. The 1997 decision by then-President of Harvard Neil Rudenstine not to offer Honig tenure was highly controversial, and attracted harsh criticism from a number of prominent Harvard professors as a violation of Rudenstine's stated commitment to increasing the number of tenured female professors.
Professor Honig is most well known in political theory for her advocacy of a contestatory conception of democratic politics, also known as agonism. In her book Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics (Cornell, 1993, awarded the 1994 Foundations of Political Thought Book Prize for best first book in political theory), she develops this notion through critiques of consensual conceptions of democracy. Arguing that every political settlement engenders remainders to which it cannot fully do justice, she draws on Nietzsche and Arendt, among others, to bring out the emancipatory potential of political contestation and of the disruption of settled practices. Recognizing, on the other hand, that politics involves the imposition of order and stability, she argues that politics can neither be reduced to consensus, nor to pure contestation, but that these are both essential aspects of politics.
Her second book, Democracy and the Foreigner (Princeton University Press, 2001), aims to illuminate the underestimated role of foreignness in democratic politics, particularly in the (re)founding of democratic communities. In doing so, she aims to shift the question from how to deal with foreigners to “What problems does foreignness solve for us?” This strategy of subverting binary oppositions (such as contestation vs. consensus, foreignness vs. familiarity, decision vs. deliberation, and in her latest book Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law and Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2009), normality vs. exception) by shifting the question of a well-known debate in order to obtain a new and revealing perspective, recurs throughout her work and the insights that result constitute her distinctive contributions to political theory.
- Political Theory and the Displacement of Politics (Cornell, 1993)
- Democracy and the Foreigner (Princeton University Press, 2001)
- Emergency Politics: Paradox, Law and Democracy (Princeton University Press, 2009)
- Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt (Penn State, 1995)
- Skepticism, Individuality and Freedom: The Reluctant Liberalism of Richard Flathman (Minnesota, 2002)
- Oxford Handbook of Political Thought (Oxford, 2006)
- "Declarations of Independence: Arendt and Derrida on the Problem of Founding a Republic", American Political Science Review, 1991
- "Between Decision and Deliberation: Political Paradox in Democratic Theory", American Political Science Review, 2007
- "Antigone's Lament, Creon's Grief: Mourning, Membership and the Politics of Exception", Political Theory, 2009