Our Students - Profiles

Kathryn A. Heard


Year: Advanced to Candidacy (ABD) - JSP

Email: kathryn (dot) heard (at) berkeley (dot) edu

Website: http://kathrynheard.com


Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory, UC Berkeley
Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, UC Berkeley
MSc with Distinction, European Identities, London School of Economics and Political Science
BA with Honors, Politics and German Studies, Whitman College


Constitutional jurisprudence
Modern and contemporary political theory
American political thought
Theories of multiculturalism and religious pluralism
Theories of democracy, power, and resistance
Feminist theory and jurisprudence


Berkeley Graduate Division Summer Research Grant (2016)
Berkeley Empirical Legal Studies Fellowship (2015-2016)
Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion Summer Research Grant (2015)
Mellon Discovery Fellow, Townsend Center, University of California, Berkeley (2008-2011)
William K. Coblentz Civil Rights Student Research Fellow (2010-2011)
JSP Continuing Student Fellowship (Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Spring 2015)
Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor, Legal Studies Department (2009-2010)
Selznick Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley (2008-2009)
Leonard Woolf Prize for "Best Overall Performance" in the European Identities MSc, LSE (2007)
Adam Dublin Award for the Study of Global Multiculturalism, Whitman College (2005)
Walter A. Brattain Scholarship, Whitman College (2002-2006)

Academic Experiences:

Heard, Kathryn. "Theorizing Employment Division v. Smith: The Affective Politics of the Legal Regulation of Religion," peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in Law, Culture, and the Humanities (forthcoming 2017).

Heard, Kathryn. "Unframing the Death Penalty: Transatlantic Discourse on the Possibility of Abolition Following the Execution of Saddam Hussein" in Is the Death Penalty Dying?, eds. Austin Sarat and Jurgen Martschukat (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 126-149.

Departmental Service:
- Graduate Student Representative on the Legal Studies Curriculum Committee (2015-2016)
- Co-director of the interdisciplinary working group on "Secularism and its Subjects" (2014-2015)
- Graduate Student Representative on JSP Admissions Committee (Spring 2012)
- Graduate Student Representative on the Committee for Undergraduate Legal Studies Reform (2010-2011)

Employment Experiences:

Instructor of Record for:
Legal Studies R1B: "Law, Religion, and Culture" (Fa 2015)
Legal Studies H195A: "Honors Seminar" (Fa 2016, Sp 2017), co-taught with Prof. Lauren Edelman

Graduate Student Instructor for:
"The Logo," Prof. Winnie Wong (Sp 2016)
"Citizenship and Immigration," Prof. Leti Volpp (Sp 2013, Su 2014)
"20th Century American Legal and Constitutional History," Prof. Ben Brown (Fa 2013)
"Theories of Justice," Prof. Sarah Song (Fa 2009, Sp 2010, Sp 2011, Fa 2012)
"Feminist Jurisprudence," Prof. Kathryn Abrams (Su 2010, Fa 2011, Su 2012, Su 2013, Sp 2014)

Graduate Student Researcher for:
Prof. David Lieberman (Su 2011, Su 2012)
Prof. Sarah Song (Su 2010)
Prof. Judith Butler (Su 2009)
Prof. Jonathan Simon, Mellon Grant for Undergraduate Education (Sp 2009)

Dissertation Abstract:

My dissertation, “The Power of Reason and the Promise of Religious Freedom in Late Secular Liberalism,” examines the theory and practice of using discourses of reason to regulate the public life of religion in the United States. I cut across traditional methodological boundaries by combing canonical theoretical and legal texts with archival research and community-based interviews. I focus in particular on what contemporary democratic theorists like John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas have called “public reason,” wherein individuals are encouraged to filter the religious content from their contributions to law- and policy-making deliberations. The ultimate effect of this filter, so the arguments go, is to secure the value-neutral ideals of freedom and equality for all, over and above the particular demands of religious belief. I challenge the value neutrality of public reason by: 1) tracing its origins to the rise of secular liberalism in the works of John Locke, where it was tied to the coercive cultivation of Protestant citizens; and 2) demonstrating the material and metaphysical unfreedoms experienced by religious individuals through detailed analyses of legal cases such as Employment Division v. Smith and Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers. In light of these analyses, which respectively focus on the ceremonial use of peyote by Native Americans and the rights of religious individuals to refuse service to same-sex couples, I argue that liberal democracies must move beyond the secular ideal of public reason in order to realize the promise of religious freedom.

Curriculum Vitae