Denise Walsh  (PhD New School for Social Research) is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Politics and Women, Gender & Sexuality at the University of Virginia. Her research investigates the quality of democracy. ​Walsh's current book project, The Politics of Debating Culture and Women's Rights in Liberal Democracies, analyzes three dissimilar policy debates about the right to culture and women's rights: the status of native women expelled from the tribe for marrying outside their band, the legalization of polygamy in South Africa, and the adjudication of the French face veil ban by the European Court of Human Rights. By comparing these three cases the book develops a generalizable theory of policy debates about culture and women's rights, and their effects on minority women and politics in liberal democracies. Walsh's research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, USAID, the Institute for Women's Studies at the University of Michigan, the Collegio Carlo Alberto in Italy, the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College and many organizations at the University of Virginia.

Professor Walsh is on sabbatical August 2020 through August 2021 during which time she will be a Visting Scholar at Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Studies.

Selected Publications:

“Backlash and the Future of Feminism,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, Introduction and special symposium, (forthcoming January 2020). Co-authored with Jennifer Piscopo.

“Multiculturalism and Women’s Rights,” The Oxford Handbook of International Political Theory, edited by Chris Brown and Robyn Eckersley (Oxford University Press: 2018).

Diversity in Political Science: Why it Matters and How to Get It,” introduction to multi-article symposium for Politics, Groups and Identities (4)3, 2016: 462-466. Co-authored with Carol Mershon.

Organizing Women: Diversifying Leadership and Addressing Discrimination in Political Science Departments,” PS: Political Science & Politics (3) 2015: 459-463.Co-authored with Carol Mershon.

 “How Political Science Can Become More Diverse,” Introduction to symposium for PS: Political Science & Politics (3) 2015: 441-444.Co-authored with Carol Mershon.

"Political Science, Heal Thyself." Introduction to Critical Perspectives on "Advocating for Change in the Discipline" Politics & Gender 10 (3) 2014: 432-437.Co-authored with Carol Mershon.

“A Feminist Approach to Quotas and Comparative Politics,” Critical Perspectives on Gender and Politics: Gender Quotas and Comparative Politics, Politics & Gender 9 (3) 2013: 322-328.

Party Centralization and Debate Conditions in South Africa,” in The Impact of Gender Quotas: Women's Descriptive, Substantive, and Symbolic Representation, edited by Susan Franceschet, Mona Lena Krook and Jennifer Piscopo, (Oxford University Press, 2012: 113-135).

“Does the Quality of Democracy Matter for Women’s Rights? The Public Sphere and Democratic Transition in Chile and South Africa,” Comparative Political Studies, 45 (11) 2012: 1323-1350 (lead article, Online First, March 2012).

Women’s Rights in Democratizing States: Just Debate and Gender Justice in the Public Sphere (Cambridge University Press, 2010)

First Name: 
Associate Professor of Politics and Women, Gender & Sexuality
Computing ID: 
Office Address: 

Department of Politics
S454 Gibson Hall
1540 Jefferson Park Ave
PO Box 400787
Charlottesville, Virginia  22904

Women Gender & Sexuality
202 Levering Hall
PO Box 400172
Charlottesville, VA 22904


B.A., Bennington College

M.A., Columbia University

Ph.D, New School of Social Research

Office Hours: 
Fall 2022: By appointment