Wills, Emily Regan

WillsPhotoEmily Regan Wills
Ph.D. candidate, New School for Social Research
Expected Completion
January 2012
Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Major Field
Comparative Politics
Minor Field
Political Theory
Dissertation Title
"Political Discourse in Motion: Social and Political Contestation in Arab New York" 

Contact Information

My work is driven by a focus on the way that discourse and politics interact in everyday life. I combine an interest in both empirical politics, particularly the politics of the Middle East and of Arab communities outside the Middle East, and theoretical approaches to understanding the political and social worlds. My dissertation follows these lines into an exploration of political discourse in Arab New York. As a teacher, I focus on developing my students' ability to engage with and understand challenging texts and political realities, and to craft arguments and opinions about political life.

Research Interests
My research focuses on the relationship between discourse (the language and conceptual tools we use to define our world) and politics (relations of power and contestation, both at the state and the interpersonal level), and in particular political discourse situated in everyday spaces. Geographically, my interests lie primarily in the Middle East, and secondarily in South Asia and the United States (especially in relation to the Middle East). Thematically, much of my work focuses on the role of gender in political relations. My current focus is on Arab migration, looking first at the political discourses developed in the (particularly American) diaspora, and, second, on the impacts those discourses have upon returning to the Middle East.

Dissertation Abstract
The Arab-American community lies at the nexus of intersecting lines of political power, and is subject to pervasive discursive misrecognition, that is, the limiting of members’ ability to act as persons capable of taking any position in ongoing social and political discourses. Engaging seriously with Arab-American political discourses is a critical political-ethical task for the non-Arab American political community. I argue that taking Arab-American political discourse seriously undermines three commonly-held positions about the community: that they are apolitical, that they are 'just like' any other American ethnic community, or that they are entirely alien to the American political experience. This dissertation develops a detailed analysis of political discourse in Arab New York around three important social fields: education, particularly community-driven educational programming; Palestine, particularly two major pro-Palestinian activist gropes; and gender, particularly the experiences of young women with social surveillance.

Writing Samples
Please email for writing samples.

Teaching Experience
I have four years of teaching experience, at both the New School and at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where I am currently a visiting instructor in political science. I have taught courses in comparative politics, political theory, gender studies, and Middle Eastern studies. My teaching style combines a focus on theoretically rigorous discussions of contemporary political questions and the desire to develop students as critical thinkers with the ability to interpret political life and craft arguments and positions based on those interpretations.


Democracy and Development (PDF). An introductory course in the Politics department at Eugene Lang, The New School for Liberal Arts (Fall 2008).
Politics: The Foundations (PDF).  An introductory course in the Social Sciences department at the New School for General Studies; conducted online (Fall 2009).
The Middle East in Diaspora (PDF)
Comparative World Politics (PDF)
wills-gender-politics-middle-east (PDF)

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