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Meet the Faculty

Asma Abbas


Asma Abbas
Division Head in Social Studies
Political Science, Philosophy
Division: Social Studies
Appointment: 2005

Liebowitz Center for International Studies
p: 413-528-7215




PhD,The Pennsylvania State University, 2005
MA, New School for Social Research, 2001
MBA, BBA (Hons.), Institute of Business Administration, Karachi, Pakistan, 1998, 1997

Areas of Interest:

Dr. Abbas teaches widely in politics and philosophy, with a particular emphasis on a material and engaged history of social and political thought and on various urgent and enduring themes in global political life. Her research in social and political theory combines continental, historical, and postcolonial perspectives and is situated at the intersection of politics, ethics, and aesthetics, addressing the material bases shared by these domains.

Research Interests/Professional Service:

Her current research project, A Politics of Love on the Verges: Rethinking the Margins via Anticolonial Timescapes, is interested in the possibility of a contemporary anti-colonial praxis, and seeks to offer a fresh understanding of subjects and life on the margins. Moved by alternate relations to the couplings of time and space, it addresses the intertwinings of love and terror, and instantiates an urgent project wherein societies at war get to interrogate and reimagine the loves, proximities, and negations, on offer to their willing and unwilling subjects. Firmly rooted in political theory and philosophy, this project also draws on her deep interests in literature and film, and on her work on international anti-imperialist movements and on literary, labour, ethnic, and sectarian movements in South Asia and North Africa.

Publications/Book Chapters/Exhibitions/Performances:

Abbas’s first book, Liberalism and Human Suffering: Materialist Reflections on Politics, Ethics and Aesthetics (Palgrave Macmillan, October 2010), rethinks the subjectivity of sufferers, their “health,” their deaths, and their hope. It examines the sources and implications of our encounters with suffering in contemporary politics and culture, explores the forces that determine how suffering matters, and offers alternative ways of thinking about suffering and politics.

Other Activities:

Before coming to Simon’s Rock, Abbas organized academic conferences on globalization and on Jean-Jacques Rousseau at Penn State, and the theater festival Artifice in Karachi, where she also founded and edited Pandora, a collection of original poetry and prose. She also contributes, in Urdu and as a translator, to a literary-political journal based in Karachi. She is currently translating a political memoir of one of the founders of the left labour movement in Pakistan. The memoir, recently published in Pakistan, is slated for an English publication in Fall 2011. Interpreting her vocation as a political theorist and educator broadly, her nascent creative and collaborative projects are The Rousseau Reverie Project (a tribute to Jean Jacques Rousseau) and Shadowing Bachmann (a personal journey to and with Ingeborg Bachmann).

She participates in politics, philosophy, and interdisciplinary humanities conferences, and has been published in Politics and Culture, Journal of Politics, and Theory and Event.