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Michael Illuzzi

Associate Professor of Political Science

Faculty Michael Ulluzzi

Personal website: http://milluzzi.org

Michael Illuzzi is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the CLAS Honors Program at Lesley University.

Before joining Lesley, Michael taught at Wheaton College in Norton MA, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and St. Olaf College. He has been actively involved in community organizing and social justice activism. He is a member of the Sharon Racial Equity Alliance and an affiliate with the BU Anti-Racism Institute. He has led a group of faculty that has transformed the Honors program to focus on critical community engagement and co-created and teaching a course entitled: Doing Good or Looking Good: Decolonizing Community Engagement.

Michael's work in political theory and American politics focuses on racial, gender, and class inequalities and U.S. political movements that have fought against overlapping injustices. His teaching and research interests also include: critical community engagement, populism, peoplehood, and critical storytelling’s potential to challenge dominant narratives.

Current Book Project

Michael’s current book project—Populism and Peoplehood in America—argues rather than turning to creating new theories for alternatives to right-wing nationalism, we can instead learn from past American actors and activists.

Using thousands of historical newspapers, archival sources, and historiographic texts, Michael shows how Lincoln’s redefinition of the American founding, a social gospel urban mayor’s campaign to bring greater economic justice for new immigrants, Martin Luther King’s attempts to save the soul of the American nation, Illinois Black Panther chairman—Fred Hampton’s—efforts to form a cross-racial coalition to fight the racial and economic oppression, and the contemporary Poor People’s Campaign all used invocations to religion, patriotism and sometimes populism to redefine what America meant to their followers and called them to form a coalition to fight to preserve this renewed vision.

This history of advocacy suggests that left-wing variations of stories of community building complete with invocations to religion, patriotism, and populism were no less prevalent or powerful as the current right-wing variations and now more than ever we cannot afford to cede the ground to these powerful mobilizing strategies.


  • Ph.D. (Political Science), University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, 2008
  • B.S. (Culture and Politics), Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service, DC, 1999

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