In a recent profile and interview in The Chronicle Review from the Chronicle of Higher Education, Professor of Political Science Jodi Dean discusses the ideas that inform her latest book Comrade and, as the article notes, “the relationship between political and scholarly work, what it means to be a communist professor today, and what academics could be — as researchers, teachers, colleagues, and even public servants — if they took comradeliness as their primary directive.”
“Etymologically, comrade derives from camera, the Latin word for room, chamber, and vault,” Dean explains. “The generic function of a vault is producing a space and holding it open. This lets us home in on the meaning of comrade: Sharing a room, sharing a space generates a closeness, an intensity of feeling and expectation of solidarity that differentiates those on one side from those on the other.”
Published Oct. 1 by Verso Press, Dean’s Comrade: An Essay on Political Belonging offers a theory of the comrade as a mode of address, figure of belonging and carrier of expectations for action. Comrade analyzes the tensions and challenges among the contemporary left that arise from the substitution of political identity for a relation of political belonging that must be built, sustained and defended.
In October, Dean discussed her work as a guest on HWS President Joyce P. Jacobsen’s Pulteney Street Podcast.
Dean, who held the Donald R. Harter ’39 Professorship of the Humanities and Social Sciences from 2013 to 2018, is the author or editor of 13 books, including Blog Theory, The Communist Horizon, Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies, and Crowds and Party.
A recipient of the Colleges’ 1998 faculty award for scholarship, Dean has been invited to present her work at conferences, museums, and universities around the world and published articles in renowned scholarly journals and periodicals. She was a 2013-14 fellow at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University and has also held the Erasmus Professorship in Philosophy at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In June 2020, she will be a visiting fellow at Birkbeck Law School in London.
Dean, who holds a Ph.D. and M.A. from Columbia University and B.A. from Princeton, joined the HWS faculty in 1993. Against the backdrop of political theory, her courses engage students in everything from climate change to feminism. In addition to her teaching duties, Dean has served as director of the Fisher Center for the Study of Gender and Justice since 2012.