My research investigates the link between identity and action. How do we become who we are? Is action the expression of who we already are, or is it the moment in which our identity is established? How we answer these questions impacts how we evaluate some of the most significant terms in our modern political vocabulary, from authenticity to autonomy.
In my current research project, “Acts of Identity: A Political Theory of Biography,” I contend that what we do makes us who we are. Through engagement with the biographical writings of several political theorists, including Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault, I show that individuals are not the autonomous “authors” of their own lives. To the contrary, individual identities are determined in contexts of political interaction beyond their control. This is the paradox of identity: though it is personal, it is not our private possession. Our identity is public and political, shaped by the outcomes of our actions.