Our Students - Profiles

Megan Wachspress

Year: Advanced to Candidacy (ABD) - JSP

Email: megancw at berkeley dot edu


MPhil, Political Thought and Intellectual History, University of Cambridge (UK)
BA with Honors, Political Science, University of Chicago
BS with Honors, Mathematics, University of Chicago


Theories of justice
Theory and history of punishment and prisons
British colonial history
Fourteenth Amendment jurisprudence
History of political thought

Academic Experiences:

Teaching Assistant, Mathematics, University of Chicago (2003-2006)
Graduate Student Instructor for "Theories of Justice" with Professor Sarah Song, Spring 2008, Fall 2009, and Spring 2010
Instructor, Prison University Project (San Quentin Prison), Summer 2009 (Introduction to Philosophy) Fall 2009 (Geometry), Summer 2010 (Geometry), Fall 2010 (Geometry), Spring 2011 (Geometry), and Fall 2011 (Elementary Algebra).
Acting Instructor, "Property and Liberty," Summer 2011
Graduate Student Instructor for "Juvenile Justice and Juvenile Delinquency" with Prof. Frank Zimring, Fall 2011


"Rethinking sovereignty with respect to history and anthropology." International Journal of Law in Context 5.3 (2009)


"Historical and Anthropological Perspectives on Colonial Sovereignty," refereed presentation at Socio-Legal Studies and the Humanities, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London (November 2008).

"The Political, the Economic, and the Self," refereed presentation at 2010 Meeting of the Western Political Science Association (Panel: "Themes from Hannah Arendt"), San Francisco CA (April 2010).

"The Political Standing of Criminals," refereed presentation at 2010 Meeting of the Law & Society Association (Panel: "Legal Subjects and Subjectivities"), Chicago IL (May 2010).

"Concentration Camps in the British Empire," refereed presentation at 2011 Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities, Las Vegas NV (March 2011).

"Punishment and War in the Political Theory of Thomas Hobbes," refereed presentation at the 2011 meeting of the Midwestern Political Science Association, Chicago IL (March-April 2011).


Sharlin Memorial Fellowship (2011-2012)
Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor (2009-2010)
Discovery Fellow, Townsend Center (2007-2010)
Regents Internship, University of California, Berkeley (2007-2009)
Donnelley Exchange Fellowship, University of Chicago/Cambridge (2006-2007)
University Scholar, University of Chicago (2002-2006)

Dissertation Abstract:

My project seeks to answer two closely related questions: First, how - if at all - do certain conceptions of the state account for a distinction between ordinary criminals and enemies of the state (whether external, internal, or both)? Second: How - if at all - do these accounts distinguish between the normative grounds and limits of state violence exercised against the criminal as distinguished from the norms that govern and justify violence levied against
"the enemy"? My project explores how this problem of distinguishing ordinary criminals from enemies of the state - and the violence justified against each - were addressed at a series of crucial moments not just in the political history of England, and in the development of a political theoretical account of the liberal state, beginning with the writing of Coke's Institutes through the treason reforms and Bill of Rights passed by Parliament in the decade after the Glorious Revolution of 1688-9.