Gavin Walker

Professor

Overview

Gavin Walker is Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature at Cornell University. Specialising in social, cultural, and literary theory in its intersections with global intellectual history, continental philosophy, politics and aesthetics, he was educated at Penn (BA 2001, MA 2004) and Cornell (PhD 2012).

After serving as a Visiting Researcher in Social Theory at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo in 2009-10 and as a Mellon Foundation Graduate Fellow at the Society for the Humanities in ‘Global Aesthetics’ in 2010-2011, he joined McGill University as Assistant Professor of Intellectual History in 2012 and became Associate Professor in 2017. During his 11 years at McGill, Walker was a Faculty Fellow of the Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas (2016-18) and Visiting Professor of Critical Theory at Kyoto University’s Institute for Research in the Humanities (2019). In 2023, he returned to Cornell University to take up the post of Professor of Theory in the Department of Comparative Literature.

Having crossed back and forth professionally within the theoretical humanities between history, theory, and literary or cultural criticism, Walker’s work broadly focuses on the theoretical meaning of the historical, in the sense that Benedetto Croce once gave to it, a form of analysis ‘suspended between the philosophical and the philological’. This historical-textual nexus of philosophy and philology, central to the foundations and origins of humanistic scholarship, might also be framed as the study of thought in its historical-political conditions and linguistic specificities, using the reading protocols of literary criticism as a method of philosophical, historical, and political investigations.

Working across languages including English, French, German, Italian, and Japanese, he is interested in the social structures, cultural forms, politics, and discursive regimes produced by the nexus of capital, the nation, and global modernity. Walker works in five broad areas: 1) The global intellectual history of Marx and Marxism; 2) Twentieth-century philosophical debates on humanism and anti-humanism, the subject and the figure of the structure, the universal and the critique of essentialism, the philosophy of historical time; 3) The national question today: nationalism, imperialism, uneven development, language, translation, globalisation and the postcolonial; 4) The status of languages, criticism, and the theoretical humanities in the contemporary university; 5) The relation of philosophy, literature, criticism, political economy, psychoanalysis and the arts to the discourses of critical and emancipatory politics after 1968.

Walker is the author or editor of 8 books. Author of The Sublime Perversion of Capital (Duke, 2016), Marx et la politique du dehors (Lux, 2022), and The Rarity of Politics: Passages from Structure to Subject (Verso, forthcoming), editor of The End of Area (Duke, 2019, with Naoki Sakai), The Red Years (Verso, 2020), Foucault’s Late Politics, a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, no. 121-4 (Duke, 2022), ‘Ronsô’ no buntai [Styles of ‘the Debate’] (Hôsei, 2023, with Yutaka Nagahara), and the editor and translator of Kojin Karatani’s Marx: Towards the Centre of Possibility (Verso, 2020), alongside nearly 70 articles and chapters in the theoretical humanities, critical theory, intellectual history, literary studies, and political thought.

A member of the editorial boards of the Historical Materialism Book Series (Brill/Haymarket), diacritics: Review of Contemporary Criticism (Johns Hopkins), and positions: asia critique (Duke), his work has been supported by institutions such as the Fulbright Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Japan Foundation (Canada, US, and UK), the Fonds québécois de recherche – société et culture, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, including an Insight Grant (2016-2024). Walker served most recently in 2022 as an Invited Humanities Advisor for the Sundance Institute Humanities Sustainability project, sponsored by the Sundance Institute and the National Endowment for the Humanities, working to prioritise the importance of the humanities for contemporary cultural production. 

Publications

Books:

The Rarity of Politics: Passages from Structure to Subject (London: Verso, forthcoming).

Marx et la politique du dehors (Montréal: Lux Éditeur, 2022).

The Sublime Perversion of Capital: Marxist Theory and the Politics of History in Modern Japan (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2016). 

Foucault’s Late Politics, edited by Gavin Walker, a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 121, no. 4 (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2022).

『「論争」の文体-日本資本主義と統治装置』Ronsô no buntai: Nihon shihonshugi to tôchi sôchi [Styles of the 'Debate': Japanese Capitalism and the Apparatuses of Governance], edited by Yutaka Nagahara and Gavin Walker (Tokyo: Hôsei University Press, Ohara Institute for Social Research, 2023).

The Red Years: Theory, Politics, and Aesthetics in the Japanese ’68, edited by Gavin Walker (Verso, 2020).

Marx: Towards the Centre of Possibility by Kojin Karatani, translated, edited and with an introduction by Gavin Walker (Verso, 2020).

The End of Area: Biopolitics, Geopolitics, History, a special issue of positions: asia critique, edited by Gavin Walker and Naoki Sakai, vol. 27, no. 1 (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2019).

 

Articles and chapters:

“The Relapses of the Universal: Translation and the Language of the Political” in Translation, Theory, Universality, edited by Gavin Arnall and Katie Chenoweth (New York: Fordham University Press, forthcoming 2024).

“Lenin, Partisan of the Conjuncture” in LENIN: The Heritage We (Don’t) Renounce, ed. Hjalmar Jorge Joffre-Eichhorn and Patrick Anderson (Ottawa: Daraja Press, 2024), 120-123.

“Singular Unverifiability” in CLS: Comparative Literature Studies, 60:2, ACLA Symposium on Gayatri Spivak’s Death of a Discipline after 20 years (Penn State: Penn State University Press, 2023).

“What Comes After ‘Area’? The Nomos of the Modern in Times of Crisis” in Knowledge Production and Epistemic Decolonization at the End of the Pax Americana, eds. Naoki Sakai, Jon Solomon, and Peter Button (London: Routledge, 2023), 173-198.

「「古来もの」と残滓:論争の「時政学」的再措定」‘Furuki mono’ to zanshi: Ronsô no ‘jiseigaku’teki saisotei” (“The Archaic and the Remnant: Chronopolitics of the Debate on Japanese Capitalism” in 『「論争」の文体:日本資本主義と統治装置』Ronsô’ no buntai: Nihon shihonshugi to tôchi sôchi [The Style of the ‘Debate’: On Japanese Capitalism and its Governing Apparatuses], co-edited by Yutaka Nagahara and Gavin Walker (Tokyo: Hôsei University Press, Ôhara Institute for Social Research, 2023), 243-285.

「〈歴史的なこと〉の寓喩:論争の国際的再措定のために」 “Rekishiteki na koto no gûyu: Ronsô no kokusaiteki saisotei no tame ni”  (“Allegories of the Historical: The Debate on Japanese Capitalism in Global Perspective”) in 『「論争」の文体:日本資本主義と統治装置』 Ronsô’ no buntai: Nihon shihonshugi to tôchi sôchi [The Style of the ‘Debate’: On Japanese Capitalism and its Governing Apparatuses], co-edited by Yutaka Nagahara and Gavin Walker (Tokyo: Hôsei University Press, Ôhara Institute for Social Research, 2023), 405-423.

“The Will to Strategy: Foucault’s Interregnum, 1976-79” in Foucault’s Late Politics, edited by Gavin Walker, a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 121, no. 4 (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2022), 713-734.

“The Late Foucault and the Allegories of Theory” in Foucault’s Late Politics, edited by Gavin Walker, a special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 121, no. 4 (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2022), 645-653.

The Wager and the Wage: Reading Kawashima Reading Uno” in Uno Kozo’s Theory of Crisis: A Symposium, edited by Gavin Walker, a special issue of episteme, no. 9 (positions: politics) (2022).

“Non-Capital and the Torsion of the Subject” in Accumulation and Subjectivity: Rethinking Marx in Latin America, ed. Karen Benezra (New York: SUNY Press, 2022), 295-313.

“Nationalism and the National Question” in The SAGE Handbook of Marxism, eds. Farris, Skeggs, Toscano (London: SAGE, 2022), 366-386.

“Uno Kôzô’s Theory of Crisis Today,” co-written with Ken Kawashima, Introduction to Uno Kôzô, Theory of Crisis, trans. Ken Kawashima (Leiden: Brill, Historical Materialism book series, 2021; paperback forthcoming from Haymarket, 2022), 177-202.

"Le marxisme et les années rouges au Japon. Entretien avec Gavin Walker" in Contretemps, 12 July 2021.

“Rethinking Japan’s Red Years: An Interview with Gavin Walker” in Spectre, 9 July 2021. 

“The Theory and Practice of Marxism in Japan” in Jacobin, 3 July 2021. 

“Fascism and the Metapolitics of Imperialism” in Historical Materialism, 8 May 2021. 

“The Political Afterlives of Yukio Mishima” in Jacobin, 25 November 2020. 

“The Red Years: An Interview with Gavin Walker on Japan’s 1968,” Verso Books, 20 November 2020.

“The Post-’68 Conjuncture” in The Red Years: Theory, Politics, and Aesthetics in the Japanese ’68, ed. Gavin Walker (London: Verso, 2020), 229-236.

“Revolution and Retrospection” in The Red Years: Theory, Politics, and Aesthetics in the Japanese ’68, ed. Gavin Walker (London: Verso, 2020), 1-11.

“Marxist Theory in Japan: A Critical Overview,” Historical Materialism, November 15, 2020.

“The World of the Outside” in Marx, Asia, and the History of the Presentepisteme, no. 3 (positions: politics), edited by Gavin Walker, October 2020.

“The Discreet Charm of Coronavirus” in episteme, no. 2, positions: politics, May 2020.

“Karatani’s Marx” in Marx: Towards the Centre of Possibility by Kôjin Karatani, translated, edited, and with an introduction by Gavin Walker (London: Verso, 2020), xi-xxvii.

“The Homeland(s) of Marxism: Labour Power, Race, and Nation after Capital in Capital in the East, eds. Anjan Chakrabarti et al (Springer Publishing, 2019), 47-67.

“The Accumulation of Difference and the Logic of Area” in The End of Area: Biopolitics, Geopolitics, History, a special issue of positions: asia critique, vol. 27, no. 1, edited by Gavin Walker and Naoki Sakai (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2019), 67-98.

“The End of Area” (co-written with Naoki Sakai) in The End of Area: Biopolitics, Geopolitics, History, a special issue of positions: asia critique, vol. 27, no. 1, edited by Gavin Walker and Naoki Sakai (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2019), 1-31.

“Le marxisme au Japon : Guide de lecture” in Période: révue de théorie marxiste (January 2019).

“The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte: History, Politics, and Repetition” in The Bloomsbury Companion to Marx, ed. Imre Szeman et al(London: Bloomsbury, 2018).

“Marx in Japan” in The Bloomsbury Companion to Marx, ed. Imre Szeman et al(London: Bloomsbury, 2018).

“The Schema of the West and the Apparatus of Capture: Variations on Deleuze and Guattari” in Deleuze Studies, vol. 12, no. 2 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), 210-235.

“Surplus alongside Excess: Uno Kôzô, Imperialism, and the Theory of Crisis,” co-written with Ken Kawashima, in Viewpoint 6: Imperialism, February 2018.

“On the Politics of Postcoloniality: Return(s) of the National Question in Marxist Theory” in Viewpoint 6: Imperialism, February 2018.

Roundtable on “Art, Society/Text: A Few Remarks on the Current Relations of the Class Struggle in the Fields of Literary Production and Literary Ideologies” (with Karen Benezra, Bruno Bosteels, Tom Eyers, Sami Khatib, and Samo Tomšič) in ARTMargins, vol. 6, no. 3 (Boston: MIT Press, October 2017), 70-75.

“The Subjective Drive of Capital: Kakehashi Akihide’s Phenomenology of Matter” in Confronting Capital and Empire: Rethinking Kyoto School Philosophy, ed. Murthy, Schaefer, and Ward (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 229-262.

“Tanigawa Gan and the Poetics of the Origin” in positions: asia critique, vol. 25, no. 2 (Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2017), 351-387.

“The ‘Ideal Total Capitalist’: On the State-Form in the Critique of Political Economy” in Crisis & Critique, special issue on The Critique of Political Economy, November 2016, 434-455.

“Challenging Abe’s Japan” in Jacobin, 13 November 2015. 

“Žižek with Marx: Outside in the Critique of Political Economy” in Repeating Žižek (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2015), 195-212.

“The Regime of Translation and the Figure of Politics” in Translation: A Transdisciplinary Journal, no. 4, special issue on “Politics” edited by Sandro Mezzadra and Naoki Sakai (Rimini: Raffaelli Editore, 2014), 30-52.

“Primitive Accumulation and the State-Form: National Debt as an Apparatus of Capture” in Viewpoint 4: The State, October 2014.

“The Reinvention of Communism: Politics, History, Globality” in South Atlantic Quarterly (113.4), special issue on Communist Currents, eds. Bruno Bosteels and Jodi Dean (Duke University Press, 2014), 671-685. 

“Filmic Materiality and Historical Materialism: Tosaka Jun and the Prosthetics of Sensation,” in Tosaka Jun: A Critical Reader, eds. Ken Kawashima, Fabian Schaefer, and Robert Stolz (Ithaca: Cornell East Asia Series, 2013), 218-254.

“The Absent Body of Labour Power: Uno Kôzô’s Logic of Capital” in Historical Materialism, vol. 21, no. 4, Autumn 2013 (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 1-34. 

“Limits and Openings of the Party: A Reply to Jason E. Smith” in Theory and Event 16.4 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). 

“The Body of Politics: On the Concept of the Party” in Theory & Event 16.4 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).

「政治経済(学)批判と国家形態〈福祉〉と資本の慾動」『情況』思想理論編第二号(東京:情況出版、2013年6月別冊). “Seijikeizai(gaku) hihan to kokka keitai: <Fukushi> to shihon no yokudô” (The Critique of Political Economy and the State-Form: ‘Welfare’ and the Drive of Capital) in Jôkyô, supplemental volume no. 2 (Tokyo: Jôkyô Shuppan, June 2013), 119-140.

“Citizen-Subject and the National Question: On the Logic of Capital in Balibar” in Postmodern Culture, (22.3) special issue on the work of Étienne Balibar (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, May 2013).

“On Marxism’s Field of Operation: Badiou and the Critique of Political Economy” in Historical Materialism, vol. 20, no. 2, Summer 2012 (Leiden: Brill), 39-74.

「現代資本主義における「民族問題」の回帰ポストコロニアル研究の新らたな政治的動向」『思想』(1059号)7月号2012年(東京:岩波書店)122147. “Gendai shihonshugi ni okeru ‘minzoku mondai’ no kaiki: Posutokoroniaru kenkyû no aratana seijiteki dôkô” (“The Return of the National Question in Contemporary Capitalism: New Political Directions in Postcolonial Studies”) in Shisô, no. 1059, July 2012 (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten), 122-147.

“The World of Principle, or Pure Capitalism: Exteriority and Suspension in Uno Kôzô” in The Journal of International Economic Studies, no. 26 (Tokyo: Hôsei University, Institute for Comparative Economic Studies, 2012), 15-37.

「資本の世界における〈街頭の事実〉恐慌・国家・国債」『現代思想』20122月号、96109. “Shihon no sekai ni okeru ‘gaitô no jijitsu’: Kyôkô, kokka, kokusai”(“The ‘Facts of the Streets’ in the World of Capital: Crisis, State, and the National Debt”) in Gendai shisô: Revue de la pensée d’aujourd’hui, no. 40-2 (Tokyo: Seidosha, February 2012), 96-109.

“The Dignity of Communism: Badiou’s Communist Hypothesis,” in Socialism and Democracy, vol. 25, no. 3 (London: Routledge, 2011), 130-139.

“Primitive Accumulation and the Formation of Difference: On Marx and Schmitt,” in Rethinking Marxism, vol. 23, no. 3 (London: Taylor & Francis, 2011), 384-404.

“Postcoloniality and the National Question in Marxist Historiography: Elements of the Debate on Japanese Capitalism,” in Interventions, vol. 13, no. 1 (London: Taylor & Francis, 2011), 120-137.

「資本のプロレタリア的零度外部の政治的物理学」『政治経済学の政治哲学的復権理論の理論的〈臨界外部〉にむけて』長原豊編(東京:法政大学出版局、2011年)351390. “Shihon no puroretariateki reido: gaibu no seijiteki butsurigaku” (“Capital’s Proletarian Degree Zero: The Political Physics of the Outside”) in Seiji keizaigaku no seiji tetsugakuteki fukken: Riron no rironteki ‘rinkai-gaibu’ ni mukete (Political-Philosophical Resurrections of Political Economy: Towards the Theoretical Limit/Outside of Theory), ed. Nagahara Yutaka (Tokyo: Hôsei University Press, 2011), 351-390.

“Postcoloniality in Translation: Historicities of the Present,” in Postcolonial Studies, vol. 14, no. 1 (London: Taylor & Francis, 2011), 111-126.

「権力としての資本政治的賭けと〈共〉の稀少性」『無理という閾と〈共〉の生産』〔下〕『情況』201010月号、185203. “Kenryoku toshite no shihon: Seijiteki kake to kyô no kishôsei” (“Capital as Power: The Political Wager and the Rarity of the Commons”), Muri to iu iki to kyô no seisan (The Threshold of Excess [muri] and the Production of the Commons) Part 2, in Jôkyô, October 2010 (Tokyo: Jôkyô Shuppan, 2010), 185-203.

「資本の起源的閾襞としての労働力」『無理という閾と〈共〉の生産』〔上〕『情況』20105月号、120-134. “Shihon no kigenteki iki: hida toshite no rôdôryoku” (“Capital’s Originary Threshold: Labor Power as Fold”), Muri to iu iki to kyô no seisan (The Threshold of Excess [muri] and the Production of the Commons) Part 1, in Jôkyô, May 2010 (Tokyo: Jôkyô Shuppan, 2010), 120-134.         

“The Double Scission of Mishima Yukio: Limits and Anxieties in the Autofictional Machine” in positions: east asia cultures critique 18: 1, Spring 2010 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 145-169.

------. “The Double Scission of Mishima Yukio: Limits and Anxieties in the Autofictional Machine,” reprinted in Perversion and Modern Japan: Psychoanalysis, Literature, Culture, eds. Nina Cornyetz and J. Keith Vincent (London: Routledge, 2010), 164-185.

“The Filmic Time of Coloniality" in Mechademia 4: War/Time (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), 3-18.

“On ‘the End’: Mishima Yukio and the Double Dislocation of Literature,” in Proceedings of the Association for Japanese Literary Studies, vol. 9: Literature and Literary Theory, eds. Atsuko Ueda and Richard H. Okada (Summer 2008), 240-246.

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