Faculty Name

Shay Welch, Ph.D.


Associate Professor


Philosophy & Religious Studies



Office Location

Camille Olivia Hanks Cosby, Ed.D. Academic Center 432


Ph.D, Binghamton University
M.A., Florida State University
B.A., University of South Alabama

Courses Taught

AOS: Native American Philosophy, Feminist/Social Epistemology, Feminist Ethics, Social/Political Philosophy
AOC: Embodied Cognition Theory, Critical Race Theory

Courses Taught:

Introduction to Philosophy
Native American Philosophy
Philosophy of Sex and Domination
Ancient Philosophy
Social/Political Philosophy

Research Interests

While my research appears to vary strikingly from one perceived epoch to the other, my interdisciplinary research and creative commitments to freedom, creativity, and embodiment in social relations have remained unified over time. 

My first book, "A Theory of Freedom: Feminist and the Social Contract" (Palgrave Macmillan 2012) addresses feminist political objections to social contract theory while simultaneously retaining the core set of conditions social contract theory necessitates for consent-based individual freedom grounded in the creativity of being. 

My second book follows this notion of individual freedom and creativity to the dark belly of oppressive social relations and brings in, more explicitly, the phenomenology of embodiment.  In "Existential Eroticism: A Feminist Approach to Women’s Oppression-Perpetuating Choices" (Lexington 2015), I use a framework of desperate rationality to reconcile the tension within feminist ethics regarding the rationality of women’s choices in and from abusive contexts, broadly construed, along with their moral responsibility for the perpetuation of oppressive norms that spills over from those choices.  It is with this book that my field began to regard me as a feminist, and social, epistemologist.  And upon reflection, it marks my movement into embodied cognition theory.    

My most recent book, "The Phenomenology of a Performative Knowledge System: Dancing with Native American Epistemology" (Palgrave Macmillan 2019), intermingles my expertise in Native American Philosophy with my work in embodied cognition to demonstrate how Native American ways of knowing constitute a systemic epistemological system and conditions for analytic Truth.  To build up to this undertaking, I developed different components of the framework in the connected articles — political, ethical, metaphysical, and cognitive—that would aid me in this epistemological venture

In my current research on embodied critical inquiry, I demonstrate how to utilize phenomenological movement to explore our embodied practices of knowing.  I argue that it is our free and creative embodied movements that give us the ability to cognitively and critically engage in critical analysis about the world.  My purpose is to develop a framework within the Phenomenology of Cognition of a “performative epistemology” that expands the thinking-in-movement framework; I will argue that we can engage in processes of critical inquiry through dancing and choreographing practices at the embodied cognitive level.  I aim to provide an analytic analysis of what it means to develop, articulate, and express questions that reside in one’s cognitive unconscious to oneself— and to others — through the moving and dancing body qua embodied metaphors. 


Select Publications


The Phenomenology of a Performative Knowledge System:  Dancing with Native American Epistemology.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2019: 215 pages.

Existential Eroticism: A Feminist Approach to Women’s Oppression-Perpetuating Choices.  Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015: 227 pages.

A Theory of Freedom: Feminism and the Social Contract. New York: Palgrave
Macmillan Publishing Co., 2012: 197 pages.

Anthology Chapters

Native American Feminist Philosophy.  Handbook on Feminist Philosophy.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, (in press): 15 pages

“Native Chaos Theory and the Politics of Difference”.   In the Routledge Companion to Contemporary Feminist Philosophy.  Garry, Ann, Serene Khader, and Alison Stone, eds.  New York: Routledge Press (2017): pp. 170-181.

 “Imagination and Wonder: Native Cognitive Schemas and Democratic Ethics”. In Phenomenology and the Political.  Gurley, S. West and Geoff Pfeifer, eds.  New York: Rowman and Littlefield (2016): pp. 131-147.

Peer Review Articles

“The Cognitive Unconscious and Native Implicit Ways of Knowing” Philosophy in the Contemporary World 25 (1), 2019: pp. 84-106.

“Dancing as Native American Epistemology”.  APA Newsletter on Native American and Indigenous Philosophy, 18, no. 1. Spring 2018: pp. 23-35.

 “Radical-cum-Relational: Bridging Native Individual Autonomy and Feminist Ethics”.  Philosophical Topics 41, no. 2 (Fall) 2015: 203-223.

 “A Discursive General Will: How Collective Reasoning Strengthens Social Freedom”. Constellations, vol. 23, no. 1 (March 2014): 96-110.

 “Social Freedom and the Value(s) of Friendship”.  Amity: Journal of Friendship Studies, vol. 1 (2013): 53-68.

 “Transparent Trust and Oppression”. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, vol. 16, no. 1 (January 2013): 45-64.

“Social Freedom and Commitment”.  Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, vol. 15, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 117-134.