V. Spike Peterson is a Professor of International Relations in the School of Government and Public Policy, and affiliated faculty in Gender and Women's Studies, Institute for LGBT Studies, Center for Latin American Studies, and International Studies. She recently returned from six months at the University of Manchester, UK, where she was hosted by the Critical Global Politics unit as a Leverhulme Visiting Professor. Selected for her cross-disciplinary investigations of intimacy and inequalities in world politics, she contributed to a new ‘Intimate Geopolitics’ program at Manchester and presented her current research on the racial and migration politics of marriage at the Universities of Sussex, Edinburgh, Cardiff and London/SOAS.
Peterson has a personal history and enduring commitment to ‘transgressing boundaries,’ as indicated by her BA in Psychology and Philosophy, MS in Anthropology and Sociology, and much later, PhD in International Relations; more than twelve years of travel and work beyond the borders of the United States, including five years of solo back-packing in Africa; and three-decades of teaching and research examining long histories, dynamic interactions, and shifting inequalities of sexuality, gender, class, ethnicity/race and nation.
Keen to trouble the orthodoxies of International Relations (IR), in 1989 Peterson organized the first ‘feminist-IR’ conference in the United States, was a founder and twice the program chair of the Feminist Theory and Gender Studies Section of the International Studies Association, edited and contributed to Gendered States: Feminist (Re)Visions of International Relations Theory (1992) and in 1993 co-authored with Anne Sisson Runyan Global Gender Issues, the first systematic treatment of gender and world politics (currently in its fourth edition). Her early publications critiqued positivist epistemologies dominant in IR, ‘givens’ of human rights discourse, the politics of ‘identity,’ and ‘nationalism as heterosexism.’ To address neoliberal restructuring, her 2003 book, A Critical Rewriting of Global Political Economy: Integrating Reproductive, Productive and Virtual Economies, introduced an alternative analytics for examining not only gendered but racialized and geopolitical dynamics, especially in light of increasing financial globalization and its polarizing effects. She has published more than eighty journal articles, reviews and book chapters, and her recent research both interrogates the gendered and racialized dynamics of economic informalization, transnational householding and global insecurities, and generates genealogies and critical queerings of archaic and modern state formation and Anglo-European imperialism in relation to marriage, migration, citizenship and nationalism.
Peterson was hired at the University of Arizona in 1990 to fill a ‘Gender and Politics’ appointment negotiated by the exceptionally strategic early proponents of gender and women’s studies at the University. She designed and continues to teach undergraduate courses cross-listed with GWS and offers graduate seminars on contemporary social theory and global political economy. Her objective in all courses is to develop critical analyses of how power operates, especially through and across patterns of privilege that too rarely engage our conscious reflection. She has received the SBS Dean’s Award for Excellence in Upper Division Teaching, the Magellan Circle Award for Teaching Excellence, and the Provost’s General Education Teaching Award at the University of Arizona, as well as the national Mentor Award of the Society for Women in International Political Economy.
Last year Peterson was the recipient of the Charles A. McCoy Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes a ‘progressive political scientist who has had a long, successful career as a writer, teacher and activist.’ In addition to Manchester, Peterson has been awarded distinguished Visiting Research positions at Durham University (Geography), the London School of Economics (Gender, IR), University of Göteborg (IR, Security), University of Bristol (Politics) and the Australian National University (IR). Other honors include a prestigious Rockefeller Bellagio Scholarly Residency, Associate Fellow status at LSE, a Udall Center Public Policy Fellowship, Fulbright Research Award (Czech Republic, declined) and MacArthur Foundation Research and Writing Grant. She has guest lectured at numerous universities in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe and been an invited speaker at international conferences in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
Peterson currently serves on the editorial boards of International Feminist Journal of Politics; Globalizations; Politics & Gender; New Political Science; Journal of Women, Politics and Policy; and Perspectives: The Review of International Affairs.