Samera Esmeir

Associate Professor, Co-Director of Projects, International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs

My research and teaching are at the intersection of legal and political thought, Middle East studies, critical theory, and colonial and post-colonial studies. One ongoing intellectual focus has been to examine how late-modern colonialism introduced  juridical logics and grammars that in turn shaped modalities of political praxis, which have not only persisted  into the twentieth century, but have also come to foreclose other modalities of politics in the present. The  concrete terms of this closure and the possibilities that remain uncaptured by it are the two motivating threads of my work.

My first book, Juridical Humanity: A Colonial History (Stanford University Press, 2012), pursues this problem in relation to colonial Egypt and examines how colonial juridical powers have reconfigured the concept of the human during the late-modern colonial era by bonding the human to the law. These powers have forestalled other political and legal projects that proceed neither under the sign of positive, state law nor of the human.

I am currently finishing a second book project that is also guided by the intersectionality of law and politics. Titled The Struggle that Remains: Between World and International, this book in progress tracks the modern entry of the word international into the English language, theorizes its emergence as a contending signifier of the world (in legal and political discourse), explores its reconfiguration of horizons of struggle, in particular in how it has contributed to shifting the relationship between war and revolution, and probes the struggle that remains in excess.

I also have ongoing interests in questions of destruction–natural, legal, and political. I have been pursuing these questions in preparation for a book project on political action in the presence of catastrophes that have foreclosed the future or deprived it of the orientation it once offered progressive or radical politics.

Along with Natalia Brizuela, I am the co-director of the projects of the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs. I am also also the senior editor of Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory.

Research interests: 

Legal, Social, and Political Thought; Colonial and Postcolonial Studies; Critical Theory; Law and Society; Middle East Studies.



(510) 642-2173
7311 Dwinelle Hall, Thursdays, 12-2pm,