Denise Walsh is an Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality at the University of Virginia, and a co-editor of the American Political Science Review. Her research investigates how liberal democracies can become more inclusive and just. Walsh's current book project, Weaponizing Rights: The Politics of Debating Culture and Women's Rights, compares policy debates about the face veil ban in France, polygyny in South Africa, and Indigenous women’s citizenship status in Canada. The book finds that politicians promote clashes between the right to culture and women’s rights to intensify divisions among groups and increase state power. Walsh also has a concurrent project on actions that can impede political participation, including a co-edited special symposium on "Backlash and the Future of Feminism" (Signs, January 2020).
Walsh's first book, Women’s Rights in Democratizing States (Cambridge University Press, 2010), compares South Africa, Poland, and Chile to find that when public debate is more open and inclusive in institutions such as unions and political parties, women’s rights advance. Walsh's research has been funded by the Institute for Advanced Studies at Notre Dame, 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. Walsh is the recipient of an all-University Teaching Award and regularly teaches undergraduate courses on power, violence and inequality in the global South; identity politics; gender politics in comparative perspective; and feminist theory. She also teaches graduate courses on identity politics and the state, and on gender and sexuality studies.