Bruno Perreau is the Cynthia L. Reed Professor, and Associate Professor of French Studies. He is a specialist in critical theory, gender and queer studies, and French politics.
Bruno Perreau started his career in France, where he taught constitutional law, political science, as well as gender and queer studies at Sciences Po, and the University of Paris 12. He first arrived in the United States as a member in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) in 2007 and settled at MIT in 2010. The same year he received a Newton Fellowship from the British Academy and Royal Society and became a member of the sociology department at the University of Cambridge, as well as a research associate at Jesus College. In 2014-2015, Perreau was a fellow at Stanford Humanities Center. Since 2012, he has been affiliated with the Center for European Studies, Harvard University. In 2016, he was named a knight in the order of French academic palms.
Perreau's research belongs to the field of critical studies, with a specialization on gender in translation and minority politics in contemporary France. He is more specifically interested in studying how the textuality of the law and the making of personal and group identities intertwine.
His recent book The Politics of Adoption (MIT Press, 2014) shows how the belief in a French nature, driven by heteronormative family norms, has become the backbone of citizenship in France. It questions debates in bioethics as well as political conflicts over gay marriage and filiation. It also studies the legal history of adoption, the impact of European jurisprudence, social work, as well as the accounts candidates for adoption give of themselves. The Politics of Adoption analyzes the emergence of new forms of expertise around the notion of parenting in the mass media and the internet, and questions adoption as a metaphor of belonging in the context of immigration policies. The book ends up with a broader analysis of the "governance for the future" and the changing status of childhood in contemporary France.
His new book Queer Theory: The French Response was published by Stanford University Press in November 2016. The book shows how recent protests against gay marriage and adoption targetted American queer theory as part of a plot against the traditional French family and school system. Perreau questions transatlantic fantasies of identity by examining these protests alongside the actual presence of queer theory in France. With this study, Perreau tackles new paradigms in queer theory such as "homonationalism" and the "gay international" as well as the fear of queer contagion in the context of contemporary French politics. The book argues that, in a queer perspective, the sense of belonging is not a given: it consists of a permanent critical reexamination of one's relation to multiple communities.
In January 2017, Perreau published with Joan W. Scott an edited book on the notion of the republic in France. Hinging on Françoise Gaspard's career, Les Défis de la République: genre, territoires, citoyenneté argues that the best way to transform political norms in today's France might lie in the ability to connect different spheres (political, academic, activist), and levels of decision (local, national, and international). The book offers essays on "brotherhood" and the rule of law during the French revolution; citizenship and immigration laws in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; marriage equality, and sociological expertise as disempowerment; "parity laws" in various contexts (France and North Africa); European cities and gender equality; local offices of "time management", etc.
Perreau is also the author of several books in French on political institutions (Cinquante ans de vie politique française, Librio 2007; Le Président des États-Unis, Dalloz, 2008, with Christine Ockrent), gay and lesbian identities and cultures (Homosexualité, Librio 2005), and filiation (Penser l’adoption, Presses universitaires de France, 2012). He has edited two scholarly volumes on the emergence of gay and lesbian studies in France (Le Choix de l’homosexualité, EPEL, 2007), and gay and lesbian families in a global context (Homoparentalité. Approches scientifiques et politiques, Presses universitaires de France, 2006, with Anne Cadoret, Martine Gross, and Caroline Mécary).
At MIT, he teaches classes on contemporary French society, as well as French and francophones cultures: French Feminist Literature; Social and Literary Trends in Contemporary Short French Fiction; Childhood and Youth in French and Francophone Cultures; Queer France; The Invention of French Theory; Understanding Contemporary French Politics; etc.
Perreau is currently working on two book projects on minority presence on the one hand, and theories of community on the other.