Catherine Frost
Professor, Political Science

Catherine Frost teaches and researches in political thought and history, including political community, communications theory, and international theory. Her current research looks at the birth of states and the international law of statehood and state recognition.

Frost's most recent book looked at declarations of independence worldwide. Entitled Language, Democracy and the Paradox of Constituent Power: Declarations of Independence in Comparative Perspective (Routledge 2021) it argues that despite its central role in the birth of new states, the declaration of independence is a poorly understood instrument that fails to meet minimal standards for coherence set by law, democratic legitimacy, or linguistics. Beginning with the American Declaration, the book draws insights from unexpected or unlikely efforts at founding in Ireland, Canada and Scotland to consider how expectations around founding speech are framed. Drawing on the work of Hannah Arendt the project suggests that the capacity for renewal through speech arises in aspects of language that operate beyond conventional performativity.

Related research also addresses: the role of advisory opinions in the law of statehood, the role of women founders in Hannah Arendt's work, the influence of Emer de Vattel in international theory, the role of political death and self-sacrifice, prophecy in Hobbesian theory, the politics of photography, passports and citizenship, 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. Frost's first book, Morality and Nationalism (Routledge 2006), also looked at the history of nationalism in Ireland and Quebec.

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.
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