Politics Faculty

Massimiliano Tomba
  • Title
    • Chair and Professor, History of Consciousness
  • Division Humanities Division
  • Department
    • History of Consciousness Department
  • Affiliations Politics Department
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Humanities Building 1, Office # 436
    • 1156 High Street 415 Humanities One Santa Cruz, CA 95064
    • Office #436
  • Office Hours Fall: Wednesday 10.00-12.00 (or by appointment)
  • Mail Stop History Of Consciousness
  • Courses Temporalities, Deprovincializing Marx

Summary of Expertise

Massimiliano Tomba's work focuses on time and temporalities, Marxism, critical theory (especially the first generation of the Frankfurt School), and modern and contemporary political thought. Specifically, he has written on topics including rethinking modernity and modern political concepts. He has written on Hegel, Kant, Marx, Walter Benjamin, the French Revolution, fascism and historical revisionism, Italian workerism, new social movements and the impact of the last financial crisis on democracies in Europe and the United States, among others. His works have been translated into Chinese, French, English, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Rumanian, Spanish, and Turkish.

Research Interests

Massimiliano Tomba's research concerns histories and legacies of universalism, human rights, revolutions, and the modern state. In his new project, he makes a case for an alternative tradition of “insurgent universality” that challenges the dominant conception of universalism in several ways. “Insurgent universality” constitutes an alternative legacy of modernity and holds together political experiments which allow us to think of different pathways of modernization, which bridge Western and non-Western juridical, political and economic conceptions.

Biography, Education and Training

Massimiliano Tomba (Ph.D. in Political Philosophy at the University of Pisa) has taught Political Philosophy at the University of Padova (Italy). He has specialized in German classical philosophy during his stay in Germany (University of Würzburg, Münich, and Hamburg).   Since 2012, he has been acting as co-director of an international project whose aim is to rethink the predominant schemes of interpretation of global society in order to overcome the prevailing Eurocentrism in conceptions of universalism, space and time. Among his publications Krise und Kritik bei Bruno Bauer. Kategorien des Politischen im nachhegelschen Denken, Peter Lang, 2005; La vera politica. Kant e Benjamin: la possibilità della giustizia, Quodlibet, 2006; Marx’s Temporalities, Brill, 2013; Attraverso la piccolo porta. Quattro studi su Walter Benjamin, Mimesis, 2017. His new book Insurgent Universality. An Alternative Legacy of Modernity, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

Honors, Awards and Grants

  • Fellow, Shelby Cullom Davis Center Department of History, Princeton University, Fall-Summer 2020-2021
  • Member of the Institute for Advanced Study (School of Social Science), Princeton, New Jersey, 2016-2017.
  • Distinguished Visiting Fellow (Advanced Research Collaborative), The Graduate Center, The City University of New York (CUNY), New York, 2014-2015
  • Visiting Scholar, Columbia University, New York, 2012
  • DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst) Fellowship, University of Hamburg, 2004
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Padova, 2000-2001.
  • MIUR (Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research) Fellowship for PhD Research 1996-1999
  • Fellowship, Italian Institute for Philosophical Studies, Naples [Istituto Italiano per gli Studi filosofici di Napoli], 1995, 1993
  • Graduate Fellowship, University of Padua, for study at the University of Munich, 1994-1995

Selected Publications



--Insurgent Universality. An Alternative Legacy of Modernity, New York, Oxford University Press, 2019, 304 pp.

Co-winner of the 2021 David and Elaine Spitz Prize for the best book in liberal and/or democratic theory published in 2019


--Attraverso la piccola porta. Quattro studi su Walter Benjamin. Milano, Mimesis, 2017, 114 pp.


--Marx’s Temporalities, trans. Sara Farris and Peter Thomas, Leiden, Brill, 2013, 206 pp. (2nd Edition: Chicago, Haymarket Books, 2013)

Shortlisted for the 2013 The Deutscher Memorial Prize


--Strati di tempo. Karl Marx materialista storico. Milano, Jaca Books, 2010, 290 pp.


--La vera politica. Kant e Benjamin: la possibilità della giustizia, Macerata, Quodlibet, 2006, 280 pp.


--Crisi e critica in Bruno Bauer. Il principio di esclusione come fondamento del politico, Napoli, Bibliopolis, 2002, 326 pp. 

Translated into German: Krise und Kritik bei Bruno Bauer. Kategorien des Politischen im nachhegelschen                      Denken, trans. L. Schröder, Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang, 2005, 235 pp.






  •   “Insurgent Universality. An Alternative Legacy of Modernity,” Symposium on Tomba’s Insurgent Universality, Historical Materialism, 2022, Forthcoming.
  • “What is (insurgent) Universality. A Reply,” Historical Materialism, 2022, Forthcoming
  • “The Past as Battlefield. Symposium on Tomba’s Insurgent Universality” in European Journal of Political Theory, 2022: 1–11.
  • “Neo-Authoritarianism without Authority” in New Faces of Authoritarianism. Special Issue, Ed. by Massimiliano Tomba, Comparative Literature and Culture (CLCWeb), Issue 23.1 (March 2021), https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/clcweb/vol23/iss1/
  • “Introduction: New Faces of Authoritarianism” (Co-authored with Asad Haider), New Faces of Authoritarianism. Special Issue, Ed. by Massimiliano Tomba, Comparative Literature and Culture (CLCWeb), Issue 23.1 (March 2021), https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/clcweb/vol23/iss1/  

 “Sanctuary as Anachronism and Anticipation” in History of the Present: A Journal of Critical History, Vol. 9, No. 2, Fall 2019, pp. 217-232 

·       “History and Historical Conceptualization” in Existenz, Vol. 14, n. 1 (2019), pp. 93-97.  

·  “Insurgent Universality” in Krisis. Journal for Contemporary Philosophy, Issue 2 (2018), pp. 80-82. http://krisis.eu/insurgent-universality/

·       “Who’s Afraid of the Imperative Mandate?” in Critical Times, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2018). https://ctjournal.org/index.php/criticaltimes 

·       “Hans-Jürgen Krahl: New Emancipative Desires (1943-1970)” in ViewPoint Magazine, April 2018. https://www.viewpointmag.com/2018/04/14/hans-jurgen-krahl-new-emancipative-desires-1943-1970/

  • “‘La bestia è l’azienda non il fatto che abbia un padrone’. Commento al quinto capitolo del Capitale” in Consecutio Rerum, N. 5 (2018), 245-258


  •  Come se avesse l’amore in corpo.’ Corpi alienati e limiti della democrazia” in La società degli individui, N. 62 (2018), 55-59.


·       “Politics Beyond The State: The 1918 Soviet Constitution” in Constellations, Vol. 24, Nr. 4 (2017), 503-515. 

·       "Justice and Divine Violence: Walter Benjamin and the Time of Anticipation”, in Theory & Event, Volume 20, Number 3 (2017), 579-598  

·       "Marx: individualizzazione e antropologia,” in Cosmopolis, Nr. 12, 2 (2016) http://www.cosmopolis.globalist.it/ 

·       "Storia e modernità. Per una provinciliazzazione del tempo” in Scienza & Politica, Vol. XXVIII, N. 55 (2016), pp. 43-59.

·       "1793: The Neglected Legacy of Insurgent Universality,” History of the Present. A Journal of Critical History, Vol. 5, n. 2 (2015), pp. 109-136

·       “Marx’s Temporal Bridges and Other Pathways”, Historical Materialism, Vol. 23, Nr. 4 (2015), pp. 75-91.

·       "Marx et les limites du capitalisme: relire le ‘fragment sur les machines’” Période, September 2015 (Co-authored with Riccardo Bellofiore.)

·       “Walter Benjamin: Giustizia come destituzione del diritto e anticipazione,” in Parole Chiave, Nr. 53 (2015), pp. 243-256.

·       "Clash of Temporalities: Capital, Democracy, and Squares,” South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol. 113 Issue 2 (2014), pp. 353-366

·       "Accumulation and Time. Marx's Historiography from the Grundrisse to Capital.” Capital & Class, Vol. 37 Issue 3 (2013), pp. 355-372

·       Marx as the Historical Materialist. Re-reading The Eighteenth Brumaire.” Historical Materialism, Vol. 21, Nr. 2 (2013), pp. 21-46

·       “Eclissi dell’Università? Un resto di fiducia per la formazione.” Archivio di Studi Urbani e Regionali, n. 101-102 (2011), pp. 210-221. (Co-authored with Mino Conte.)

·       “Concetti di comunità in Marx. Note sulla Questione ebraica.” Critica marxista, n. 3-4 (2011), pp. 64-70.

·       “On Italian Workerism,” libcom.org, September, 2011 (Co-authored with Riccardo Bellofiore.): http://libcom.org/library/italian-workerism

·       "La ‘véritable politique.’ Observations sur justice et politique.” Actuel Marx, n. 47 (2010), pp. 150-64 

·       “Tempi storici della crisi nel mercato mondiale. A partire dalla Marx renaissance.” Fenomenologia e Società, n. 3 (2010), pp. 53-71.

·       “Historical Temporalities of Capital: An Anti-Historicist Perspective.” Historical Materialism, Vol. 17, Nr. 4 (2009), pp. 44-65

·       “Rinascita della guerra giusta? Kant difeso dai suoi ammiratori” in Dialettica e filosofia, 2008, pp. 1-20: http://www.dialetticaefilosofia.it/public/pdf/56tomba_stato_di_guerra_i.pdf Also published in Revista Filosofia do Direito e Intersubjetividade, n. 2 (2009), pp. 1-33.

·       “Les ambiguïtés de la traduction de «Gemeinwesen» en italien”, in Centre Georges Chevrier - Ordre et désordre dans l'histoire des sociétés (CNRS), 2008.  http://tristan.u-bourgogne.fr/UMR5605/manifestations/07_08/08_05_28.html

·       “Differentials of Surplus-Value in the contemporary forms of exploitation.” The Commoner, No. 12 (2007), pp. 23-37. http://www.commoner.org.uk/ (Translated into Polish and published as: “Zróżnicowania wartości dodatkowej we współczesnych form wyzysku,” in Ekonomia polityczna społecznej kreatywności, Warszawy, Wolny Uniwersytet, 2011, pp. 111-128.)

·       “Il materialista storico. Prime osservazioni su Karl Marx.” Quaderni materialisti, No. 6 (2007), pp. 301-318

·       “Tronti e le contraddizioni dell'operaismo.” Erre, n. 22 (2007), pp. 93-100.

·       “I tempi storici del capitale.” Critica marxista, n. 5 (2006), pp. 27-36.

·       „Bruno Bauer und Max Stirner vor der Krise und dem Euorpäertum.“ Der Einzige. Vierteljahresschrift des Max-Stirner-Archiv-Leipzig, No. 1/2 (2005), pp. 3-19.

·       “Pubblicità e terzo forum in Kant.” Il pensiero politico, Vol. 34, no. 3 (2003), pp. 411-34.

·       “Filosofia della crisi. La riflessione post-hegeliana.” Filosofia politica, n. 2 (2002), pp. 193-222.

·       “L’incantesimo revisionista.” Contemporanea. Rivista di storia dell’800 e del ‘900, n. 3 (1999), pp. 557-67. (Co-authored with V. Zanin.)

·       “La funzione politica della famiglia nello Stato hegeliano. Una prospettiva storico-concettuale.” Filosofia politica, n. 3 (1995), pp. 425-444.

·       “Diritto ed eticità della famiglia nella Rechtsphilosophie di Hegel.” Verifiche, n. 1-2 (1994), pp. 57-95.

Book Chapters          

  • “On Subsumption as Form and the Use of Asynchronies” in Karen Benezra (Ed. by), Accumulation and Subjectivity. Rethinking Marx in Latin America, New York: SUNY Press, 2022, pp. 27-43.


  • “Time” in The SAGE Handbook of Marxism, Edited by B. Skeggs, Sara F. Farris, A. Toscano, S. Bromberg, Los Angeles, SAGE Publications, 2022, pp. 491-506.


“Critique as Subduction,” in D. Fassin and B.E. Harcourt, A Time for Critique, New York, Columbia University Press, 2019, pp. 114-131.


·       “Kapitalismus als Religion und das Ende der politischen Theologie” in M. Ponzi u.a. (Ed.), Der Kult des Kapitals, Heidelberg, Universitaetverlag Winter, 2017, pp. 115-130.

·       “Temporalità della crisi in Marx,” in M. Ponzi (Ed.), Marx e la crisi, Macerata, Quodlibet, 2017, pp. 139-159.

·       “Benjamin: l’aura oltre i tradizionali rapporti di proprietà,” in M. Montanelli e M. Palma (ed. by), Tecniche di esposizione. Walter Benjamin e la riproduzione dell’opera d’arte, Macerata, Quodlibet, 2017, pp. 191-204.

·       “Emancipation as Therapy. Bauer and Marx on the Jewish Question,” in Die linken Hegelianer. Studien zum Verhältnis vom Religion und Politik im Vormärz, edited by Michael Quante and Amir Mohseni. Paderborn, Wilhelm Fink, 2015, pp. 161-175.

·       “Politica come mutamento. Alcune riflessioni su giustizia e storia in Walter Benjamin,” in A. Simoncini, Dal pensiero critico. Filosofie e concetti per il tempo presente, Milano, Mimesis, 2015, pp. 253-268.

·       “Slavery, Contemporary Forms of Exploitation and Their Temporalities,” in Joy Forever. The Political Economy of Social Creativity, Free/Slow University, Warsaw, 2015, pp. 117-132. 

·       “Capitalismo, religione e la fine della teologia politica,” in Il culto del capitale. Walter Benjamin: capitalismo e religione, Dario Gentili, Mauro Ponzi and Elettra Stimilli (ed. by), Macerata, Quodlibet, 2014, pp. 45-56.

·       “La democrazia nella morsa dei tempi,” in Laura Bazzicalupo (ed. by), Crisi della democrazia, Milano, Mimesis, 2014, pp. 73-81

·       “Adorno’s Account of the Anthropological Crisis and the New Type of Human,” in (Mis)Readings of Marx in Contemporary Continental Philosophy, edited by Jerney Habjan and Jessica Whyte. London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014, pp. 34-50.

·       “Pre-Capitalistic Forms of Production and Primitive Accumulation. Marx’s Historiography from the Grundrisse to Capital,” in In Marx’s Laboratory: Critical Interpretations of the Grundrisse, edited by Ricardo Bellofiore, Guido Starosta, and Peter D. Thomas. Leiden and Boston, Brill, 2013, pp. 393-411.

·       “I tempi storici della lunga accumulazione capitalistica,” in Tempora Multa. Il governo del tempo, V. Morfino et al., Milano, Mimesis, 2013, pp. 67-86

·       “The ‘Fragment on Machines’ and the Grundrisse: The Workerist Reading in Question,” in Beyond Marx: Confronting Labour-History and the Concept of Labour with the Global Labour-Relations in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Marcel van der Linden and Karl Heinz Roth, with Max Henninger. Leiden and Boston, Brill, 2013, pp. 345-367. (Co-authored with Riccardo Bellofiore.)

·       “Bruno Bauer,” in Aussenseiter der Philosophie, edited by H. Reinalter and A. Oberprantacher, Würzburg, Königshausen & Neumann, 2012, pp. 209-229.

·       “Multiculturalità e riconoscimento. Rileggendo la relazione servo-padrone,” in Il pensiero di Hegel nell’età della globalizzazione, edited by G. Rinaldi and T. Rossi Leidi, Roma, Aracne, 2012, pp. 223-240 

·       “Bruno Bauers kritische Auseinandersetzung mit der Französischen Revolution: Historiographie, Politik, Geschichtsphilosophie” in Bruno Bauer. Ein „Partisan des Weltgeistes“? Edited by K.-M. Kodalle and T. Reitz. Würzburg, Königshausen & Neumann, 2010, pp. 251-62.

·       “La giustizia come vero a priori del tempo” in Le vie della distruzione. A partire da Il carattere distruttivo di Walter Benjamin, edited by the “Seminario di studi benjaminiani.” Roma, Quodlibet, 2010, pp. 171-88

·       “Lesearten des Maschinenfragments. Perspektiven und Grenzen des operaistischen Ansatzes und der operaistischen Auseinandersetzung mit Marx,” in Über Marx hinaus, edited by M. van der Linden and K.H. Roth. Berlin, Assoziation A, 2009, pp. 407-31. (Co-authored with Riccardo Bellofiore.)

·       “Modernità capitalistica come inversione. Note su feticismo e fantasmagoria in Marx” in Verità, ideologia, politica, edited by F. Frosini and A. Vinale. Napoli, Cronopio, 2009, pp. 119-36

·       “Von der Geschichtsphilosophie zur Politik. Strömungen des Radikalismus im Vormärz: Bruno Bauer, Max Stirner und Karl Marx,” in Freiheit, Gleichheit, Solidarität. Beiträge zur Dialektik der Demokratie, edited by E. Goldschmidt, B. Lösch und J. Reitzig. Frankfurt am Main, Peter Lang, 2009, pp. 113-25.

·       “Bruno Bauer: Dialektik des Individualismus in Entstehen des Öffentlichen – Eine andere Politik, ” edited by L. Lambrecht. Frankfurt am Main-Berlin u.a., Peter Lang, 2007, pp. 39-52.

·       “Exclusiveness and Political Universalism in Bruno Bauer,” in The New Hegelians. Politics and Philosophy in the Hegelian School, edited by D. Moggach. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp. 91-113.

·       “A. von Cieszkowski: Philosophie der Praxis und Theorie der Geschichte” in  Philosophie, Literatur und Politik vor den Revolution von 1848, edited by L. Lambrecht. Frankfurt am Main-Berlin u.a., Peter Lang, 2006, pp. 209-22. 

·       “Hegel” in La politica e gli Stati. Problemi e figure del pensiero occidentale, edited by R. Gherardi. Roma, Carocci, 2004, pp. 223-232. (Translated into Romanian: G.L. Stoica, ed., Politica şi statele. Probleme şi figuri ale gândirii occidentale, Bucareşti, Mediterana 2000, 2006, pp. 229-39)

·       “La comprensione hegeliana della guerra nella frattura rivoluzionaria. Note sulla Verfassung Deutschlands,” in Filosofia e guerra nell’età dell’idealismo tedesco, edited by G. Rametta. Milano, Franco Angeli, 2003, pp. 179-95

·       “Potere e costituzione in Hegel” in Il Potere. Per la storia della filosofia politica moderna, edited by G. Duso. Roma, Carocci, 1999, pp. 297-316. (Translated into Portegese: Poder e constituição em Hegel, in O Poder. História da filosofia política moderna, edited by G. Duso. Rio de Janeiro, Editora Vozes, 2005, pp. 305-25)