My research addresses the relationship between nature and politics, especially considered in the context of the global ecological crisis. Throughout my work, I argue that we are failing to navigate the ecological crisis effectively because our conceptual and political vocabularies are largely insufficient to the task. In my view, theoretical descriptions function like tools that help or hinder us in navigating decisional and material environments. Accordingly, I propose specific interventions intended to help remap our conceptual landscape, so that core political concepts like agency, action, community, freedom, normativity, obligation, order, power, and security are available to us as resources rather than obstacles when we seek to address political milieus inflected by complex causality, existential risk, and technical debt. I am especially interested in how developments in these areas can help us rethink how political decay affects our conceptual and strategic imagination of what is politically desirable and possible.
Ongoing research interests include environmental political theory (especially developments in biopolitics, political ecology, and new materialism), political realism, both American and ancient political thought, international relations, and the tradition of Western political philosophy considered critically as a historical body of conceptual work. I also have a burgeoning interest in astropolitics, or the so-called “geopolitics” of outer space.
I am currently working on a scholarly monograph tentatively titled How to Think Like an Apocalypse: Political Theory for the Ends of the World (with prospective chapters on the “fugitive ecologies” of Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and Robert Bullard, on reappraising Leo Strauss as a post-apocalyptic thinker, and on related issues to do with conceptual engineering, ecopessimism, indigenous political thought in the Americas, theories of the state, and philosophical pragmatism). In short, the book will explore how “thinking like an apocalypse” necessarily entails thinking the post-apocalypse, which is to say, the reconstruction or repurposing of the world that follows after catastrophes, crises, and disasters.
I have a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (where I focused on political theory, American politics, and international relations), and an M.A. in Philosophy from the same institution. In 2020, I deposited my dissertation, “On the Political Uses of Creative Darkness: Freedom, Subjectivity, and Normativity,” which received the Kathleen Burkholder Prize for Best Dissertation. Its basic argument is that reworking elements salvaged from F. W. J. Schelling’s philosophy of nature helps me (1) formulate a novel theory of the ecologically conditioned human subject and (2) propose a creative biopolitics that amends some longstanding political theoretical concerns about authority, freedom, and obligation. For my M.A., I studied critical theory and the history of the idea of “the end of history” in the post-World War II context. Drawing upon the projects of Alexandre Kojève and Carl Schmitt, my work explored how conflicting and incompatible philosophies of history shape our perceptions of geopolitical possibility.
I also translate texts from French, German, Italian, and Spanish, and I have translated excerpts from texts by Hans Blumenberg, Kojève, Ludwig Klages, Schelling, and Schmitt. I recently finished translating an unproduced screenplay by the Italian filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni (Tecnicamente dolce, 1966), and I am currently translating Fabián Ludueña Romandini’s monograph La comunidad de los espectros, I: Antropotecnia (Buenos Aires: Miño y Dávila, 2010).