Two History of Consciousness professors named to lead prestigious political journal

History of Consciousness Professor and Director of Graduate Studies Banu Bargu
History of Consciousness Chair and Professor Massimiliano Tomba

Two University of California, Santa Cruz Humanities professors have been named co-editors of an influential scholarly journal that addresses the most pressing issues of the 21st century, from the crises of democratic government to future pandemics.

History of Consciousness Professor and Director of Graduate Studies Banu Bargu and History of Consciousness Chair and Professor Massimiliano Tomba, with Professor Kevin Olson of UC Irvine, will co-edit Political Theory, a peer-reviewed bimonthly journal, published by SAGE, that is widely considered the leading American publication promoting the development and exchange of political ideas.

“The contributors to this journal have the unique ability to address problems from climate change to ‘natural’ disasters, from war to police violence, from artificial intelligence to academic freedom,” Bargu said.

“The challenges of the present are at the forefront of our journal to address,” Bargue continued. “We believe that this task necessarily involves a multiplicity of different perspectives, forms of expertise, methodologies and approaches. It will be our goal to invite more collaborative, out of the box, and transdisciplinary projects to appear on our pages.”

As co-editors, Tomba and Bargu are aiming to solicit the boldest, most rigorous and creative work that is being done by political theorists of all stripes, Tomba said.

“We are not necessarily looking for particular topics or authors but, rather, creative, original, theoretically-minded ways of engaging with politics,” Bargu said.

The scope of Political Theory is mostly academic. However, its readership extends beyond the field of political theory, drawing readers from a number of related fields within the Humanities and Social Sciences.

“It is our ambition to broaden its reach even further during our tenure as editors to reach scholars in the arts and sciences who are interested in transdisciplinary issues and conversations,” Bargu said.

Tomba’s work is concerned with political philosophy, modern political theory, and critical theory. He specializes in German classical philosophy, Marxism, and modern and contemporary political thought.

Tomba has written on topics including histories and legacies of universalism, human rights, revolutions, and the modern state.

Rethinking modernity and modern political concepts has been a recurrent theme in his works, which have been translated into Chinese, French, English, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Rumanian, Spanish, and Turkish.

His most recent book is Insurgent Universality: An Alternative Legacy of Modernity (Oxford University Press, 2019), which was co-winner of the 2021 David and Elaine Spitz Prize for the best book in liberal and/or democratic theory published in 2019.

Bargu's research concerns theories of sovereignty and biopolitics, carceral regimes and struggles, democracy and autocratic politics, as well as the role of the body in resistance practices, and traditions of materialist thought.

Bargu's first book, Starve and Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons (Columbia University Press, 2014), explores self-destructive protest inTurkish prisons through the ethnography of a radical movement. The book focuses on an incident that has become known as the “Death Fast,” a series of hunger strikes that were part of a massive resistance movement in Turkish prisons from 2000 to 2007. The hunger strikes were often deadly for the participants. Bargu uses their fasts as a lens to examine the issue of weaponizing the body as a form of protest that develops in response to the changing nature of sovereign power and the installation of a securitized carceral regime.

Bargu's new book, Disembodiment: Corporeal Politics of Radical Refusal (Oxford University Press), examines self-destruction, self-injury, and radical self-endangerment as unconventional performances of resistance and refusal performed by the oppressed emanating from the global south.