Bargu, Banu

Bargu, Banu

Banu Bargu

Ph.D. in Government, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, January 2008

Master of Arts in Government, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, January 2004

Master of Arts in Political Science and International Relations, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey, July 2001

Bachelor of Arts, Business Management, Bogazici University, Istanbul, Turkey, July 1997


Banu Bargu’s main area of specialization is political theory, especially modern and contemporary political thought, with a thematic focus on theories of sovereignty, resistance, and biopolitics. Her research interests are situated at the intersection of philosophy, politics, and anthropology, with a regional focus on the Middle East (especially Turkish politics). In her research and teaching, she draws upon the traditions of continental and critical theory as well as the history of Western political thought, with a keen interest in interrogating these traditions from the perspective of current political issues and practices. Her work engages with thinkers such as Machiavelli, Marx, Stirner, Schmitt, Foucault, and Althusser around the themes of violence, the body, sacrifice, martyrdom, and aesthetics. It also attempts to weave together political theory with political ethnography and explores transdisciplinary and hybrid forms of research. Bargu is currently working on a book-length manuscript on Althusser’s political thought and his rethinking of the materialist tradition, especially in light of the posthumous publication of Althusser’s work on the aleatory.
Courses Taught:

Graduate: Machiavelli, The Natural, The Historical, The Political (Field Seminar in Political Theory), The Question of the Subject (Field Seminar in Political Theory), The Theological and the Political (Field Seminar in Political Theory), Sovereignty and Its Critics, Politics of Violence, Biopolitics, The Idea of Revolution (co-taught with Eli Zaretsky).


Undergraduate: Political Theory in Film, Machiavelli, Equality, Theories of Hegemony, Resistance, Politics of Violence, Currents in Marxism, Anarchism


Recent Publications:

Starve & Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 512 pages. Series: New Directions in Critical Theory.



Journal Articles:


“Odysseus Unbound: Sovereignty and Sacrifice in Hunger and the Dialectic of Enlightenment,” Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 19, no. 4 (forthcoming)


“The Predicaments of Left-Schmittianism,” South Atlantic Quarterly 113, no. 4 (forthcoming)


“Sovereignty as Erasure: Rethinking Enforced Disappearances,” Qui Parle 23, no. 1 (Fall/Winter 2014): 35-75.


“Human Shields,” Contemporary Political Theory 12, no. 4 (November 2013): 277-95. Advance online publication March 19, 2013.


“In the Theater of Politics: Althusser’s Aleatory Materialism and Aesthetics,” diacritics 40, no. 3 (2012): 86-111.


“Unleashing the Acheron: Sacrificial Partisanship, Sovereignty, and History,” Theory & Event 13:1 (Spring 2010). 

Book Chapters:


“Machiavelli after Althusser,” in Thinking in Extremes: Machiavellian Studies, Vol. 1, edited by Filippo del Lucchese, Fabio Frosini, and Vittorio Morfino (Brill Academic Publishers, forthcoming).


“Sovereignty” in The Cambridge Foucault Lexicon, ed. Leonard Lawlor and John Nale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 456-65.


“Politics of Commensality,” in The Anarchist Turn, edited by Jacob Blumenfeld, Chiara Bottici, and Simon Critchley (London: Pluto Press, 2013), 35-58.


“Stasiology: Political Theology and the Figure of the Sacrificial Enemy,” in After Secular Law, edited by Winnifred Sullivan, Robert Yelle and Mateo Taussig-Rubbo (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011), 140-159.


“Max Stirner, Postanarchy avant la lettre,” in “How Not to Be Governed”: Readings and Interpretations from a Critical Anarchist Left, edited by Jimmy Casas Klausen & James Martel (Lanham: Lexington Press, 2011), 103-122.


“Spectacles of Death: Dignity, Dissent, and Sacrifice in Turkey’s Prisons,” in Policing and Prisons in the Middle East: Formations of Coercion, edited by Laleh Khalili and Jillian Schwedler (London: Hurst & Company; New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), 241-261.

Review Essay:


“The Weaponization of Life: Review essay of Talal Asad’s On Suicide Bombing (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007) and Diego Gambetta, ed. Making Sense of Suicide Missions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005),” Constellations 16:4 (2009), 634-43.

Office Location:
6 East 16th Street, 7th Floor, Room 725
Office Hours:
Tuesdays, 4-6pm
Phone Number/Extension:
(212) 229-5747 x 3381


Research Interests:
• Modern and Contemporary Political Theory
• Critical Theory and Left Thought
• Theories of Sovereignty, Resistance, Biopolitics
• Prisons, Political Prisoners, and Human Rights
• Middle East Politics, Turkish Politics
Professional Affiliations:
American Political Science Association
Western Political Science Association
Association for Political Theory
Middle East Studies Association
Awards and Honors:
Janice N. and Milton J. Esman Graduate Prize for Distinguished Scholarship (Best Dissertation Award), Government    Department, Cornell University, May 2007

Mellon Fellowship, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Cornell University, 2006-2007

Luigi Einaudi Fellowship, Institute for European Studies, Cornell University, 2004-2005

John M. and Emily B. Clark Award for Distinguished Teaching, Office of the Dean, College of Arts & Sciences, Cornell    University, 2002-2003

Sage Fellowship, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Cornell University, 2000-2001
CV (pdf):

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