Bargu, Banu

Bargu, Banu

Banu Bargu

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

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

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

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


Banu Bargu’s main area of specialization is political theory, especially modern and contemporary political thought. Thematically, her work has focused on theories of biopolitics, sovereignty, and resistance. Her research interests are situated at the intersection of philosophy, politics, and anthropology, with a strong regional focus on the Middle East (and especially Turkish politics).

In her research and teaching, she draws upon the traditions of continental and critical theory as well as the history of political thought but with a keen interest in interrogating these traditions from the perspective of current political issues and concerns. She has worked on thinkers such as Machiavelli, Marx, Stirner, Schmitt, Foucault, and Althusser with an interest in bringing their reflections to bear on contemporary themes such as violence, the body, sacrifice, martyrdom, and aesthetics.

Bargu’s research on contemporary forms of self-destruction, such as hunger striking, suicide attack, and self-immolation, aims to illustrate how these violent forms of political action relate to the changing nature of sovereign power in the modern world. Her work analyzes how life is forged into a weapon through an in-depth study of the Death Fast Struggle of political prisoners in Turkey. Her book, Starve & Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons, is currently in production with Columbia University Press.
Courses Taught:
Sovereignty and Its Critics; Machiavelli; Violence; Biopolitics; Field Seminar in Political Theory: The Theological and the Political; Field Seminar in Political Theory: The Natural, The Historical, The Political; The Idea of Revolution (co-taught with Eli Zaretsky)
Recent Publications:

Book Chapters:

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

“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.


Journal Articles:

“Human Shields,” Contemporary Political Theory (forthcoming in 2013, advance online publication March 19, 2013)

“In the Theater of Politics: Althusser’s Aleatory Materialism and Aesthetics,” diacritics 40, no. 3 (2012): 88-113.

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

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.

Interviews and Interventions:

“Yeni Bir 12 Eylül?” [A New September 12?], Milliyet [Turkish Daily Newspaper], November 2, 2012.

“Med Livet som indsats” [in Danish], interview by Gunver Lystbæk Vestergård, UNIvers, Aarhus Universitet, January 30, 2012.

“Faculty Interview,” interview by Max Lockie, Canon: The Interdisciplinary Journal of the New School for Social Research, Issue theme: Revolution, Winter 2011.

“Forging Life into a Weapon,” as part of the dossier “Thinking Through Violence: An Interdisciplinary Conversation,” edited by Elena Bellina, J. Martin Daughtry, Crystal Parikh and Arvind Rajagopal. Periscope: Social Text, May 2011.

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
• Theories of Sovereignty, Resistance, Violence
• Marxist, Post-Marxist, and Anarchist Thought
• 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):

< back


Connect with the New School