Skip to main content
Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster logo

Frost Catherine, Associate Professor

photo of Catherine Frost

Catherine Frost

Associate Professor

Department of Political Science

Institute on Globalization & the Human Condition

Area(s) of Interest:


Book cover: Morality and Nationalism by Catherine Frost

Catherine Frost received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Toronto specializing in political theory. Her teaching and research interests are in political thought and history, including political community, nationalism and collective identity, as well as communications theory, literature and new media. Her research centers on questions of representation and justice, and asks how and why systems of representation are created and re-created, and how this shapes and reshapes politics.

Her current SSHRC-funded research project looks at political origins and renewal, with a special focus on political founding, including Declarations of Independence and the origins of law. It addresses how changes in communications practices, concepts of time, and experiences of violence and loss, impact on the pursuit of freedom and sovereignty through founding.

Frost is currently working on a book entitled Language, Democracy and the Paradox of Constituent Power: Declarations of Independence in Comparative Perspective that will be published with Routledge Press.  The book asks how constituent power – how ‘the people’ – finds its voice. The quintessential form of founding speech in the modern era is the declaration of independence, even though it is a poorly understood instrument that fails to meet minimal standards for coherence set by law, democratic legitimacy, or linguistics. Beginning with founding speech in the American Declaration, this project uses insights drawn from unexpected or unlikely forms of founding in cases like Ireland and Canada to reconsider the role of time and loss in how such speech is framed. It brings the discussion up to date by looking at recent debates in Scotland, where an undeclared declaration of independence overshadows contemporary politics. Drawing on the work of Hannah Arendt and using a contextualist, comparative theory method this project suggests that the capacity for renewal through speech arises in aspects of language that operate beyond conventional performativity.

Related research work also addresses: the problem of political ventriloquism in digital democracy, the role of political death and self-sacrifice, prophecy in Hobbesian theory, the politics of photography, passports and citizenship, the political theory of Hannah Arendt, ancient literature, political revolution in the digital age, performative politics and the political force of poetic speech, and the relationship between national identity and inclusion.

Her book, Morality and Nationalism, was part of the Routledge “Innovations in Political Theory” series and looked at the history of nationalism in Ireland and Quebec.

Dr. Frost is a member of the radical political theory group and the multiculturalism research cluster in the Political Science department at McMaster. Before joining McMaster Frost held research fellowships at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and McGill University in Montreal, and before entering academia, she served as a policy advisor in the Ontario government and a communications advisor in the private sector.


Research and Supervision

Her teaching and research interests are in political theory, and include political community, diversity, political speech and rhetoric, and contemporary and ancient theory including interdisciplinary and comparative approaches.





POLSCI 3CC3 – Foundations of Political Authority: 20th Century Political Thought
POLSCI 4FF3 - Rights and Justice

POLSCI 4OL3 - Origins of Law

POLSCI 4DV3 - Death & Violence


ARTSCI 1A06 - Practices of Knowledge


POLSCI 757 - Theories of Political Community



  • (forthcoming) Language, Democracy and the Paradox of Constituent Power: Declarations of Independence in Comparative Perspective New York: Routledge.
  • (2006) Morality and Nationalism. London: Routledge.

Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  • (2019) “Does Canada have a Founding Moment?” in David McGrane and Neil Hibbert (eds.), Applied Political Theory and Canadian Politics. University of Toronto Press, 265-86.
  • (2010) "Dilemmas of Belonging" in After the Nation?: Critical Reflections on Nationalism and Post-Nationalism, Keith Breen and Shane O'Neill (eds) London: Palgrave.
  • (2007) “Deserving democracy: Technology was never the problem, and it won't be the solution,” in Josh Greenberg and Charlene Elliot (eds) Communications in Question: Canadian Perspectives on Controversial Issues in Communication Studies, Thompson-Nelson.
  • (2004) “Getting to Yes: People. Practices and the Paradox of Multicultural Democracy,” in David Laycock, (ed.) Representation and Democratic Theory, Vancouver: UBC Press.
  • (1993) “Bill 15 and the Mandatory Retirement Debate: A Study in Political Discourse,” in Graham White (ed.) Inside the Pink Palace. Toronto: OLIP/CPSA.


  • (2019) “Declarations of Independence as proto-legal performatives: Can performativity account for founding speech?” Canadian Political Science Association Annual Meeting, Vancouver, June 4-6, 2019.
    (2018) “Hannah Arendt’s Riddle of Foundation” Association for Political Theory Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, 18-20 October 2018.
  • (2017) "The Power of Prophecy: Sovereign Closure or Political Possibility?" Catholic University of Leuven.
  • (2017) “Does Canada have a Founding Moment” Centre for Canadian Studies, University College Dublin, Ireland.
    (2016) “Death as Witness: Self-Sacrifice and Political Founding.” American Political Science Association.
  • (2015) “Does Canada have a founding moment?” Association for Canadian Studies in the United States. 
  • (2014) Review of Self-Determination without Nationalism: A Theory of Post-National Sovereignty, Omar Dhabour Social Theory and Practice 4(4): 706-12.
  • (2014) “Performing Citizens” Arts-Centered Community-Engaged Social Science (ACCESS) Collaborative, McMaster University.
  • (2014) “The Unexamined Life.” Bethune Round Table, McMaster University.
  • (2014) “Political Founding in an Internet Age.” American Political Science Association, Washington, DC.
  • (2013) “Making and authenticating the citizen: Naturalization and passport applications as windows on the practices of political membership” Canadian Political Science Association (with Elke Winter).
  • (2013) “Founding & Forgetting: The strange case of Ireland’s Proclamation of Independence.” Canadian Political Science Association.
  • (2012) Catherine Frost “Agents of Change: Education, Media and Social Transformation” Association for Canadian Studies/Canadian Ethnic Studies Association.
  • (2012) Review of National Self-Determination and Justice in Multinational States, Anna Moltchanova. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 33(5): 513-5.
  • (2012) Review of Multicultiphobia, Phil Ryan. Canadian Journal of Political Science. 44(4): 955-6.
  • (2012) Review of National Self-Determination and Justice in Multinational States, Anna Moltchanova. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 33(5): 513-5.
  • (2012) “National Identity as a resource for Global Inclusion: ‘Dislocating’ national identity from the nation-state,” Working Paper CSGP 12/6, Center for the Study of Global Power and Politics, Trent University.
  • (2012) “Passport Identity Validation Practices as a Window on Political Community,” Canadian Political Science Association.
  • (2011) “Nation-(Re)building: Critical Factors for Success in Afghanistan and Iraq,” Canadian International Council.
  • (2011) Review of The Fair and Responsible Use of Space, Rathgeber, Wolfgang; Schrogl, Kai-Uwe; Williamson, Ray A. (eds.) Space Policy (28 January).
  • (2011) “National Identity as a Resource for Global Inclusion: ‘Dislocating’ national identity from the nation-state” International Studies Association.
  • (2010) “Transformative Multiculturalism: Irish Minorities and National Identity in Hard Times” American Political Science Association.
  • (2010) Review of Everyday Multiculturalism, Amanda Wise & Selvaraj Velayutham (eds). Journal of Intercultural Studies 31:437-9.
  • (2009) “Between Political Founding and Post-Nationalist Future: The Malleability of National Identity in a Small Globally-Oriented State.” Discussion Paper, Institute for British-Irish Studies, University College Dublin.
  • (2008) Review of Rorty’s Politics of Rediscription, Gideon Calder. Canadian Journal of Political Science 41:3.
  • (2006) Review of Community in the Digital Age: Philosophy and Practice, Andrew Feenberg and Darin Barney (eds). Canadian Journal of Communication 31:2.
  • (2003) Review of E-Government: Information and Communication Technology in Public Administration, Gudrun Trauner. Canadian Public Administration 46: 244.
  • (2002) Review of Political Theory and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Duncan Ivison, Paul Patton and Will Sanders (eds). Contemporary Political Theory 1: 239-41.
  • (2002) Review of The Ethics of Nationalism by Margaret Moore. The Review of Politics 64: 543-45.
  • (2000) Review of The State of the Nation, by John Hall. Canadian Journal of Political Science 33: 178-9.