The New School for Social Research


  • Banu Bargu

    Associate Professor of Politics

    Office Location:

    Albert and Vera List Academic Center



    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 Turkey). In her research and teaching, she draws upon the traditions of continental and critical theory to address salient political issues and resistance practices. Her work engages with thinkers such as Machiavelli, Marx, Stirner, Schmitt, Foucault, and Althusser around questions related to the body, violence, sacrifice, martyrdom, ideology, and aesthetics. Her work brings together political theorization with empirical, ethnographic, and historical research, relying on methods that are transdisciplinary and hybrid.

    Banu Bargu is the author of Starve and Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons (Columbia UP, 2014), which received APSA's 2015 First Book Award given by the Foundations of Political Theory section and was named an Outstanding Academic Title for 2015 by CHOICE.

    Banu Bargu is currently working on a book-length manuscript on Louis 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.


    Degrees Held:

    PhD 2008, Cornell University

    Recent Publications:




    Starve & Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014), 512 pp. 

    • Recipient of the Best First Book Award, American Political Science Association (Foundations of Political Theory Section), 2015
    • Choice Outstanding Academic Title, 2015

    Journal Articles:


    “Why Did Bouazizi Burn Himself? The Politics of Fate and Fatal Politics,” Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory 23, no. 1 (2016): 27-36.


    “Another Necropolitics,” theory & event 19, no. 1 Supplement (January 2016),


    “Althusser’s Materialist Theater: Ideology and Its Aporias,” differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 26, no. 3 (December 2015): 81-106.


    “Odysseus Unbound: Sovereignty and Sacrifice in Hunger and the Dialectic of Enlightenment,” Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities 19, no. 4 (2014): 7-22.


    “The Predicaments of Left-Schmittianism,” South Atlantic Quarterly 113, no. 4 (2014): 713-27.


    “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. .


    “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 The Radical Machiavelli: Philosophy, Politics, and Language, ed. Filippo Del Lucchese, Fabio Frosini, and Vittorio Morfino (Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2015), 420-39.


    “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, 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.  




    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

    Awards and Honors:


    • Best First Book Award, American Political Science Association (Foundations of Political Theory Section), 2015
    • Faculty Research Grant, Provost’s Office, The New School, 2015-2016
    • Visiting Scholar Research Grant, University of Padua, Italy, June-July 2013
    • 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