Heather Ashley Hayes

Heather Ashley Hayes is a scholar, author, speaker, and global citizen critic researching, writing, organizing, and teaching. Influenced by training in both rhetorical criticism and anthropological field work methods, her work focuses on the social implications of racialized violence and discourses of terrorism, both domestically and as part of the global, decades long US-led war on terror within the United States and abroad.

Dr. Hayes is Chair and Assistant Professor of the Department of Rhetoric and an affiliated faculty member in the Program in Race and Ethnic Studies at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, USA. She is also the author of Violent Subjects and Rhetorical Cartography in the Age of the Terror Wars (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). Committed to public and global deliberation, she has presented her work across the US, Middle East, and Europe to diverse audiences, teaches at both a small liberal arts college and inside penitentiaries, and serves as Terrorism and Middle East desk editor for Citizen Critics (www.citizencritics.org), where she also is a contributor.

Photo credit Lisa Quinlan Photography/Gray Duck Studios

About Heather Ashley Hayes


Currently, I hold an appointment as Assistant Professor and Chair of the Department of Rhetoric Studies at Whitman College. I am also an affiliated faculty member in the Program in Race and Ethnic Studies there. I received B.A.s in Speech Communication and Political Science from Trinity University where I was an intercollegiate debater for two years. I received an M.A. in Communication Studies from Texas State University under the direction of Roseann Mandziuk and a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from the University of Minnesota under the direction of Ronald Walter Greene with additional consultation from William O. Beeman in the Department of Anthropology.

My training is centered primarily in rhetorical studies, incorporating fieldwork methods from anthropology. My work explores the intersections between racialized violence of the US-led global war on terror and racial violence occurring within the US. As part of that effort, my work explores militarized policing and state organized counterterrorism programs like the targeted killing campaign of personless drone attacks and well as the expansion of the US carceral state.

My first book, Violent Subjects and Rhetorical Cartography in the Age of the Terror Wars, centers around the intersection of violence and transnational rhetoric in the era of the terror wars. It explores the technology of weaponized drones as part of the global war on terror, specifically dealing with the implications drone use in the Middle East and North Africa by the United States has for understanding the way violence functions communicatively and culturally.

The work performs a rhetorical cartography of drone culture, exploring the possibilities for drone discourses to function within the context of the global war on terror, often refiguring technologies of governance and surveillance, with great implications for Arab and Muslim citizens both within the United States and globally. It is currently available from Palgrave MacMillan and at Amazon. I have additionally published chapters in various books on race, violence, and discourse and my work has appeared in academic journals including Advances in the History of Rhetoric, the Quarterly Journal of Speech, and Argumentation and Advocacy. I have additionally written for public outlets such as citizencritics.org and the San Antonio Current.

My second book, Decarceral Imaginaries: Rupturing the Walls and Bars of the US Carceral State, grapples with the current crisis and violence of mass incarceration in the United States, reframing the carceral state as one of necrocontainment and exploring avenues for decarceration projects available in the current moment. It is due out in late 2019/early 2020. More information on its release will be forthcoming.

As an Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Race and Ethnic Studies at Whitman College, I teach courses around rhetoric and civic engagement, culture, race, terrorism, and violence. I teach introductory courses in rhetoric and public culture as well as facilitate our introduction to public address program as part of my work with the Center for Writing and Speaking at Whitman. I additionally teach courses in race and ethnic studies, the rhetoric of racial justice movements, Middle East studies, violence, and argumentation all with an eye toward public discourse.

After a year of successful planning and two pilot courses, I now direct a program where I teach a course every year on rhetoric, race, and incarceration inside Washington State Penitentiary. The course is made up of both Whitman College students and students incarcerated within WSP. It is modeled as a desegregated classroom, across the walls and bars, in liberal arts, humanities based approach. Both incarcerated and non-incarcerated students have equitable stakes and roles in the course and receive the same credits for their work in the course. In 2018-2019, this project will expand to include an additional humanities course taught in the same innovative model. For more information on this project, click the "Incarceration Project" tab in the main menu.


Public Presentations and Conference Travel 

Each year, I attend the National Communication Association conference, to be held in Salt Lake City, UT in November of 2018. Every other year I also frequent the NCA-AFA ALTA biannual summer conference on argumentation or the Rhetoric Society of America biannual conference as well as various academic and professional meetings in the areas of rhetoric and communication, Middle East studies, race and ethnic studies, carceral studies, and anthropology. Since 2013, I have presented work across the US as well as in the UK, Belgium, The Netherlands, Jordan, Palestine, and Turkey. In the summer of 2016, I was in Jordan and Palestine as well as Ferguson, MO to begin fieldwork for my third book, a work in progress about the intersections of racialized policing, incarceration, and discourses of violence against black and brown bodies across the globe. 

Everything Else

In breaks from work - few and far between - I can often be found hiking, volunteering my time inside the nearby penitentiary, traveling, spending quality time with my adorable and energetic pup, enjoying live music and/or film, having lively dinner parties, running, enjoying family, and working for more just communities.

To contact:

 Downtown Walla Walla, WA

Downtown Walla Walla, WA

Dr. Heather Ashley Hayes

Assistant Professor and Chair of Rhetoric Studies

Whitman College

345 Boyer Avenue

Olin Hall 203

Walla Walla, WA 99362


(509) 527-5245

Email Heather

Heather's Academia.edu Page