Joanna Wuest is a political scientist who studies identity, inequality, and American political and constitutional development. At Princeton University, she holds the Fund for Reunion-Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellowship in LGBT Studies in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science with a certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 2019.
Wuest's research has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, and the American Association of University Women, and was the recipient of the American Political Science Association's (APSA) 2019 Kenneth Sherrill Award for the Best Dissertation on Sexuality and Politics among other APSA paper awards. Her academic work has appeared in Perspectives on Politics, Politics & Gender, Law & Social Inquiry, and nonsite, and her public writing has been published by the Nation, Boston Review, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dissent, Psyche (Aeon), the Los Angeles Review of Books' Philosophical Salon, and Jacobin.
Her book manuscript, Born This Way: Science, Citizenship, and Inequality in the American LGBTQ+ Movement (advance contract with the University of Chicago Press), is a comprehensive account of the “born this way” ideology in science, law, and American politics. It demonstrates how the natural sciences and the mental health professions have been central to the fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights, and how bioessentialism became a principal epistemology of the neoliberal era. Born This Way is at once a celebratory and cautionary tale, one which delineates a minority rights movement’s impressive victories, its powerful and persuasive allies, and the inherent limitations of identity-based social movements and biopolitical citizenship claims in the face of resurgent right-wing assaults.
Currently, she is writing a second book tentatively titled Uneven Egalitarianism: Civil Rights and Corporate Power in the Postwar U.S. The book takes a political economic perspective on how gender and sexual egalitarianism has unfolded unevenly in the post-Fordist era. It reveals how, despite recent equal rights victories, American constitutionalism is presently transforming in ways that undermine both civil rights and state power to regulate for the public good. Essays and articles from this project have appeared in Law & Social Inquiry, the Nation, and Boston Review.