© 2019 Althea R. Sircar. Photo Credit: Frances Quin Schaeffer.

research

Research Interests & Expertise

  • Contemporary political theory (continental and postcolonial)

  • Philosophy and ethics of environment, science, and technology

  • Affect theory, pain, disability, and the body

  • Race, ethnicity, and identity politics

  • Feminist/gender/queer theory

  • Social movements (especially revolutionary and anti-colonial movements in comparative and theoretical perspective)

  • Religion, law, and the state in South Asia.

  • Critical university studies and the politics of education

  • Phenomenological and existential philosophy

Dissertation Abstract

My dissertation asks: how might societies to build political consensus between people with vastly different life experiences and divergent ideas about what “life” means, especially where such differences stymie negotiation and legislation? I use the thought of Michel Henry (France, 1922-2002) to examine how political conflicts connected with issues of survival, suffering, and existence relate to the affective attachments and interior lives of political actors. I draw on Henry’s critique of the Western “ontological subject,” offering one of the first applications of Henry’s work to Anglophone political theory. The project argues that political communities must take seriously the ways that individuals’ commitments and beliefs remain opaque even to themselves. Doing so, I contend, strengthens “affective political communities” that can address contemporary crises like torture, starvation, communal violence, and environmental catastrophe.

Affective Political Community: Michel Henry and the Ontological Subject