Politics Faculty

Banu Bargu
  • Title
    • Professor
  • Division Humanities Division
  • Department
    • History of Consciousness Department
  • Affiliations Politics Department, Center for the Middle East and North Africa (CMENA)
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Office Location
    • Humanities Building 1, 438
  • Office Hours By appointment
  • Mail Stop Humanities Academic Services
  • Mailing Address
    • UCSC, 1156 High St, HAS - Humanities 1
    • Santa Cruz CA 95064
  • Courses HISC 20 Democracy and Dictatorship, HISC 060 What Is Resistance?, HISC 116 What Is Species?, HISC 129 Politics of Violence, HISC 203A/B Approaches to History of Consciousness, HISC 206 Humanism and Its Critics, HISC 223 Althusser, HISC 236 20th Century Critical Theory, HISC 265A Biopolitics I: Problematics, HISC 265B Biopolitics II: Corporealities

Biography, Education and Training

Banu Bargu is Professor of History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is a political theorist, whose research also draws upon anthropology, philosophy, global history, and Middle East studies around questions of the body, power, violence, resistance practices, authoritarianism and exceptional regimes, carcerality and democracy. She is the author of Starve and Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons (Columbia University Press, 2014), which received the Foundations of Political Theory First Book Prize given by the American Political Science Association and was named an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice. She is the editor of Turkey's Necropolitical Laboratory: Democracy, Violence, and Resistance (Edinburgh University Press, 2019) and the co-editor of Feminism, Capitalism, and Critique: Essays in Honor of Nancy Fraser (Palgrave, 2017). Banu Bargu currently serves as the editor of Political Theory. Her new book, Disembodiment: Corporeal Politics of Radical Refusal (Oxford University Press, in press), examines self-destruction, self-injury, and radical self-endangerment as unconventional performances of resistance and refusal. Bargu has previously taught at The New School for Social Research, New York City, and SOAS, University of London. Her scholarship has been recognized by a number of fellowships, including the Mercator fellowship, ACLS, and a residential fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.


Ph.D., Government, Cornell University, 2008

M.A., Government, Cornell University, 2004

M.A., Political Science and International Relations, Bogazici University, 2000

B.A., Management, Bogazici University, 1997

Honors, Awards and Grants


  • Best First Book Award, American Political Science Association (Foundations of Political Theory Section), 2015
  • Janice N. and Milton J. Esman Graduate Prize for Distinguished Scholarship (Best Dissertation Award), Government Department, Cornell University, 2007
  • John M. and Emily B. Clark Award for Distinguished Teaching, Office of the Dean, College of Arts & Sciences, Cornell University, 2003

Fellowships and Grants:

  • CLGP Grant, Committee on Research, UCSC, 2024-25
  • Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science, 2020-21
  • American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 2020-21
  • Research Cluster: "Neo-Authoritarianism," The Humanities Institute, UCSC 2019-2020
  • New Faculty Research Grant, Committee on Research, UCSC, 2018-2019
  • Research Cluster: "After Neoliberalism," The Humanities Institute, UCSC, 2018-2019
  • Multicampus Faculty Working Group Grant: "Sanctuary Practices" UCHRI (University of California Humanities Research Institute), 2018-2019 
  • Mercator Fellowship, DFG (German Research Foundation) Research Training Group: Selbst-Bildungen: Praktiken der Subjectivierung [Self-Making: Practices of Subjectivation], Carl von Ossietzky Universität, Oldenburg, Germany, Spring 2017
  • Faculty Research Grant, Provost’s Office, The New School, 2015-2016
  • Visiting Scholar Research Grant, University of Padua, Italy, June-July 2013
  • Mellon Fellowship, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Cornell University, 2006-2007
  • Luigi Einaudi Fellowship, Institute for European Studies, Cornell University, 2004-2005

Selected Publications



Disembodiment: Corporeal Politics of Radical Refusal (Oxford University Press, in press)


Starve and Immolate: The Politics of Human Weapons (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014)


Edited Collections:


The Political Encounter with Louis Althusser (co-edited with Robyn Marasco), special issue of Rethinking Marxism: A Journal of Economics, Culture and Society 31, no. 3 (2019)


Turkey's Necropolitical Laboratory: Democracy, Violence, and Resistance (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019)


Feminism, Capitalism, and Critique: Essays in Honor of Nancy Fraser, co-edited with Chiara Bottici (New York: Palgrave, 2017)


Journal Articles: 


Neo-Ottomanism: An Alt-Right Formation from the South?” Social Research: An International Quarterly (Special Issue: Turkey Today) 88, no. 2 (Summer 2021): 299-333.


Disjecta Membra: Althusser’s Aesthetics Reconsidered” (co-authored with William Lewis), Filozofski Vestnik 50, no. 1 (2020): 7-59.


"Police Power: The Biopolitical State Apparatus and Differential Interpellations," Rethinking Marxism 31, no. 3 (2019): 291-317.


Year One: Reflections on Turkey’s Second Founding and the Politics of Division,” Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory, vol. 1, no. 1 (2018): 23-48.   


The Silent Exception: Hunger Striking and Lip-Sewing,” Law, Culture, and the Humanities, DOI: 10.1177/1743872117709684 (OnlineFirst: May 24, 2017), 1-28.


Bodies against War: Voluntary Human Shielding as a Practice of Resistance,” AJIL Unbound [American Journal of International Law Unbound Edition] 110 (January 2016), 299-304.


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, Special Issue: Balibar on Althusser and Ideology’s Dramaturgy (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 (Fall 2014): 713-27.


Sovereignty as Erasure: Rethinking Enforced Disappearances,” Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social Sciences 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:


“Authority,” in Words and Worlds: A Lexicon for Dark Times, ed. Veena Das and Didier Fassin (Durham: Duke University Press, 2021), 61-82.


“Pluralizing the Crisis of Democracy” (in German translation as: „Die Krise der Demokratie pluralisieren“ trans. Frank Lachmann and Henri Band) in Was stimmt nicht mit der Demokratie? Eine Debatte mit Klaus Dörre, Nancy Fraser, Stephan Lessenich und Hartmut Rosa, edited by Hanna Ketterer and Karina Becker (Berlin: Suhrkamp, 2019), 100-10.


“Turkey's Necropolitical Laboratory: Notes Towards an Investigation,” in Turkey's Necropolitical Laboratory: Democracy, Violence, and Resistance, ed. Banu Bargu (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2019), 1-22.


“The Corporeal Avant-Garde: Petr Pavlensky” in Bodies of Evidence: Ethics, Aesthetics, and Politics of Movement, ed. Gurur Ertem and Sandra Noeth (Vienna: Passagen Verlag, 2018), 101-21.


“Introduction” (co-authored with Chiara Bottici), in Feminism, Capitalism, and Critique: Essays in Honor of Nancy Fraser, co-edited with Chiara Bottici (New York: Palgrave, 2017), 1-15.


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


“Sovereignty,” in The Cambridge Foucault Lexicon, edited by 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 and 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 Essays: 


Foucault and Iran,” SCTIW Review Book Symposium on Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi’s Foucault in IranSCTIW ReviewJournal of the Society for Contemporary Thought and the Islamicate World (March 21, 2017): 1-7.


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: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory 16, no. 4 (2009), 634-43.


Book Reviews:


Review: Humanism in Ruins: Entangled Legacies of the Greek-Turkish Population Exchange. By Asli Igsiz. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2018, pp. 332.” Review of Middle East Studies (RoMES) 53, no. 2 (December 2019): 394-97.


Review: Prisons in the Late Ottoman Empire: Microcosms of Modernity. By Kent F. Schull. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014, 240 pp.” Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association 3, no. 2 (November 2016): 379-83.


Critical Dialogues: Review of Punishment and Inclusion: Race, Membership, and the Limits of American Liberalism. By Andrew Dilts. New York: Fordham University Press, 2014, 352 pp.” Perspectives on Politics 13, no. 3 (September 2015): 820-821.


Teaching Interests

  • Modern and contemporary political theory
  • Critical theory
  • Theories of Sovereignty and Subjectivity
  • Biopolitics and Body Politics
  • Resistance Movements and Practices
  • Critical carceral studies
  • Middle East Politics and Turkish Politics
  • Materialism and aesthetics