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Professor Nomi Claire Lazar

I'm Professor of Politics in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. I write about crises from a number of angles: emergency powers, constitutions, political legitimacy, rhetoric, temporality, climate emergency, conspiracy theories and apocalyptic and utopian politics. My research is supported by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the British Academy, where I am co-lead on the Global Convening Program "The Times of a Just Transition". In addition to my writing and teaching, I was appointed in 2022 by Justice Paul Rouleau to the Public Order Emergency Commission's Research Council, and in 2024 by Justice Marie-Josée Hogue to the Foreign Interference in Federal Elections Commission. I also served as an elected member of the University of Ottawa's Governing Board from 2021-2024.  Other civil society activities include advocating for prisoners' rights, and serving as a poll worker for elections. I'm also a frequent contributor of commentaries to news outlets and blogs in North America and Asia. 


Out of Joint: Power, Crisis & the Rhetoric of Time (Yale University Press, 2019)

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To secure power in a crisis, leaders must sell deep change as a means to future good. But how could we know the future? Nomi Claire Lazar draws on stories across a range of cultures and contexts, ancient and modern, to show how leaders use constructions of time to frame events. These frames carry an implicit promise to secure or subvert an expected future, shaping belief in what is possible—and what is inevitable.
“Ranging imaginatively across history and geography, this elegant book probes temporal sources of order and transformation. Its analytical wisdom discloses how calendars and representations of time shape political legitimacy, dispositions, and action.”

Ira I. Katznelson, author of Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time
“Great political leaders, for good or ill, seek to shape our daily lives by playing with time itself. That is the central insight of this elegant, erudite volume, one that means I will henceforth listen to speeches and manifestos with new ears and new tools to rebut them.”

Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO, New America
“Nomi Lazar gives us a fascinating exploration of the political construction of time itself, as structured by calendars, dating systems, and other mechanisms used for legitimation, revolution, and a myriad of other political purposes. A memorable and endlessly interesting book.”

—Adrian Vermeule, Harvard Law School

States of Emergency in Liberal Democracies (Cambridge University Press, 2009/13)

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In an emergency, statesmen concentrate power and suspend citizens’ rights. These emergency powers are ubiquitous in the crisis government of liberal democracies, but their nature and justification is poorly understood. Based on a pluralist conception of political ethics and political power, this book shows how we can avoid the dangers and confusions inherent in the norm/exception approach that dominates both historical and contemporary debate. By emphasizing the continuity between times of normalcy and emergency, the book illuminates the norms of crisis government, broadening our understanding of liberal democratic government and of political ethics in the process.

“[A]n outstanding book, with particularly helpful analyses both of the Roman dictatorship and of the thought of... Carl Schmitt. It deserves wide readership and discussion.”
-Professor Sanford Levinson, University of Texas at Austin

“[Lazar's] thoughtful and provocative thesis is an important contribution to scholarship on emergencies and liberalsm.”
-Professor Mark Tushnet, Harvard Law School

" [I]mportant and timely... essential reading for scholars interested in the nature and institutional form of emergency powers.”
-Professor Melissa Schwartzberg, Columbia University

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