research

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I think of political theory in terms of Hanna Fenichel Pitkin’s definition: it is “the attempt to define the interface between what must be accepted as necessary and what can be altered through active intervention.” Consequently, my research investigates questions related to (a) why we are failing to navigate emerging security crises (like the ecological crisis or political decay) and (b) how conceptual engineering in political theory can help us adapt to such circumstances more effectively. My first book, Noir Materialism: Freedom and Obligation in Political Ecology, is available from Lexington Books (Rowman & Littlefield). My second book (see below) is under contract with Routledge.

Research interests include political theory, intellectual history, security studies and violence, ancient and medieval (including Islamic) political philosophy, philosophical anthropology, and film and literary criticism. Other current research projects include a philosophical study of CIA counterintelligence chief James Jesus Angleton and a Wittgensteinian reading of some elements in One Thousand and One Nights. In addition to my own research programs, I have directed both independent and sponsored research groups on a wide range of topics, e.g., Machiavelli’s political psychology, the political realism of Henry Kissinger, and various texts by Nietzsche, Plato, Carl Schmitt, and Oswald Spengler.

My second book – Theory of the Alien: Astropolitics, Spacepower, and the Outside – explores my burgeoning interest in astropolitics, or the so-called geopolitics of outer space, and the relatively recent emergence of outer space as an economic, political, and warfighting domain. There is currently very little political theory relating to this topic (despite, e.g., Hannah Arendt’s observation in 1958 that the Sputnik launch in 1957 was an event “second in importance to no other, not even to the splitting of the atom”). The book addresses fundamental questions about the future of politics on planet Earth, as well as delineates the ways in which our political and strategic imagination is deeply informed by categories and concepts of the exogenous, or what is considered to be “outside” the scope of the traditionally political. I will be engaging extensively with the politics of the intelligence community, NASA, and the United States Space Force, as well as with ongoing puzzles related to the future of territory and war, space law related to national security and space exploration, philosophical anthropology in the Space Age, and the cultural history of the extraterrestrial hypothesis.

As side projects, I am co-editing (with Dr. Andrew Wenaus) a theory-oriented volume about the Voyager program, co-editing (with Dr. Michael Cifone) a special journal issue about the emerging multidisciplinary domain of “UAP studies,” and working on All Things Shameful and Vile (teaser, sample), an experimental art documentary that explores Plato’s political philosophy in the style of BBC documentarian Adam Curtis. I am also translating Fabián Ludueña Romandini’s monograph La comunidad de los espectros, I: Antropotecnia (Buenos Aires: Miño y Dávila, 2010), a significant yet overlooked contribution to the literature on biopolitics.