A view of the Koura region from the Orthodox monastery in Bkeftine, Lebanon. Aaron Eldridge 2019.

Graduate Student Spotlight: Aaron Eldridge

Aaron Eldridge is an anthropologist specializing in contemporary asceticism in the Levant. His interdisciplinary research interests include Muslim-Christian entanglements in the Eastern Mediterranean, postcolonial political theologies, historical consciousness, as well as theories of destruction and form of life. His work has appeared in Exchange (2020) and Qui Parle (forthcoming).

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Congratulations to the Program’s Recent Graduates

Congratulations to the Program’s most recent graduates! Now in its eleventh year, the Program in Critical Theory enrollment has grown to 91 active students with 73 affiliated faculty. To date, 61 UC Berkeley PhDs have earned a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory.

Suzanne Li Puma (December, 2020)
PhD in Rhetoric
DE in Critical Theory

Jason L. Ferguson (December, 2020)
PhD in Sociology
DE in Critical Theory

Designated Emphasis Application Deadline, March 18

Applications to the DE in Critical Theory are due Thursday, March 18, by 4 pm. All students enrolled in PhD programs at UC Berkeley who have not already taken the QE are eligible to apply. To learn more about the application process and access application forms, please visit the academics webpage.

Join the Program in Critical Theory faculty and students for the Designated Emphasis Virtual Open House on February 16 at 5:30 pm for a panel discussion and Q&A about the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. All UC Berkeley PhD students interested in applying to the DE are invited to attend.

Please direct any questions to

New Affiliated Faculty Spotlight: Sara Mameni

Sara Mameni, Assistant Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies

Sara Mameni is an art historian specializing in contemporary transnational art and visual culture in the Arab/Muslim world with an interdisciplinary research on racial discourse, transnational gender politics, militarism, oil cultures and extractive economies in West Asia.

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New Affiliated Faculty Spotlight: Fumi Okiji

Fumi Okiji, Assistant Professor, Rhetoric

Fumi Okiji’s research looks to black expression for alternative ways to understand the inadequacies of modern and contemporary life. Okiji explores how black and Africana music, sound cultures and expression, more broadly, provide the basis of a critical theory. Okiji’s approach is thoroughly interdisciplinary, drawing from black radical thought and expression, critical theory, feminist thought, sound studies, and musicology. Okiji is an improvisor and jazz vocalist—whose research is greatly informed by this practice.

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New Affiliated Faculty Spotlight: Djordje Popović

Djordje Popović, Assistant Professor, Slavic Languages and Literatures

Djordje Popović’s research and teaching interests include 20th- and 21st-century South Slavic literature, Yugoslav modernism and state socialism, critical theory, and intellectual history. Popović’s essays on the appropriation of the dialectical tradition and on the ontologizing of alienation in the western reception of East European modernism have appeared in the journal Contradictions and in History, Imperialism, Critique: New Essays in World Literature (Routledge, 2019).

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CT faculty will be teaching thirteen spring 2021 courses that count towards the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. These courses reflect the interdisciplinary breadth of the Program, with core and elective options in Education, English, Film, French, Law, Philosophy, and Rhetoric.

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ICCTP Invites You to Visit Its Redesigned Website, New “The Consortium Books” Website, and Social Media Platforms

ICCTP invites you to visit the redesigned International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs website for information about its events, projects, announcements and more. Please also visit the new website for The Consortium Books for information regarding book series on critical theory from Africa and its diasporas, Latin America, the Arab world, and South Asia. Updates have also been made to the Consortium’s social media presence in order to boost the visibility of the new and various programs and projects that represent critical theory across the globe, so be sure to like/follow the ICCTP TwitterICCTP Facebook page, and Critical Times Facebook page for all the latest news!

Assistant Professor, Critical Theory, Department of Comparative Literature Applications due Oct 15

Job #JPF02679

Open August 27th, 2020 through Thursday, Oct 15, 2020 at 11:59pm (Pacific Time)

The Department of Comparative Literature at U.C. Berkeley seeks applications for an Assistant Professor in Critical Theory (tenure track) with an expected start date of July 1, 2021. The successful candidate will have a rigorous grounding in Critical Theory in relation to literary history, with a comparative component. The department welcomes applications with additional areas of specialization in, among others, critical race theory, post-colonial theory, the Global South, gender theory, area studies, film and media studies, and critical-theoretical approaches to questions of democracy and the public sphere.

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Welcome Back Message, Fall 2020

Dear friends and colleagues,

As all are aware, Berkeley’s Program in Critical Theory, like the rest of the university, enters the fall semester much as we ended the spring. With campus activity restricted and much of our work forced into virtual form, we continue to confront not only an unusual moment, but also the expanding sequence of crises that have produced it. While our seminars and other events assume new guises, however, the critical labor they reflect remains unchanged, merely sharpened by our circumstances. As we welcome everyone to a new academic year, we hope that all will remain engaged in this collective work.

As always, we invite you to add yourself to the Critical Theory mailing list, and to join us in the year’s upcoming events. And we remind you too that, especially in a moment of financial uncertainty, we are always grateful for any support that you might be able to spare.

Housed in the Critical Theory program, the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs will be hosting during this academic year a series of discussions with artists, scholars and activists about the four research themes identified for this grant period: The Environment, Ecology and Forms of Life; Debt, Vulnerability and Forms of Care; Camps, Borders, and Hospitality; Defeat, Steadfastness, and the Future. There will also be conversations with authors and critics on recent book releases from the Critical South book series.

Dan Blanton, Natalia Brizuela, and Samera Esmeir

New Critical Theory Affiliated Faculty Members

Please help us in welcoming three new faculty, Sara Mameni (Ethnic Studies), Fumi Okiji (Rhetoric), and Djordje Popović (Slavic Languages and Literatures) who recently joined our Critical Theory interdisciplinary community. Now totaling 73 affiliated members, The Program’s diverse faculty represent twenty-five departments across the fields of social sciences, arts, humanities, education, law, and natural resources, offering courses to the nearly 100 students pursuing the Designated Emphasis. Keep an eye out for future communications about our new affiliated faculty members!


Congratulations to the Program’s most recent graduates! Now in its eleventh year, the Program in Critical Theory enrollment has grown to 96 active students with over 70 affiliated faculty. To date, 57 UC Berkeley PhD’s have earned a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory.

Veronica Jacome (Spring 2020)
PhD in Energy & Resources
DE in Critical Theory

Simone Stirner (Summer 2020)
PhD in Comparative Literature
DE in Critical Theory
DE in Jewish Studies

Message from the Director

Dear friends and colleagues,

We hope this letter finds you healthy and safe at the end of this disrupted semester and in this fraught time. The Program in Critical Theory is a community committed to the examination of contemporary values and power relations, of social organization and practices, with the philosophical instruments of critique; this work together feels perhaps more urgent now than ever. We write to thank all of those who have supported and sustained this work through a tumultuous year, who have demonstrated in myriad ways the ongoing need for and timeliness of Critical Theory.

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The Program in Critical Theory is delighted to welcome 8 new students to the Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. The new cohort includes graduate students from Berkeley departments in the social sciences, humanities, and professional schools. These new admits bring the total number of Critical Theory DE students to nearly 100.

  • Britt Dawson, Anthropology
  • Christopher Geary, English
  • Salvador Gutiérrez Peraza, Ethnic Studies
  • Andrew Haas, English
  • Nejat Kedir, African Diaspora Studies
  • Liza Michaeli, Comparative Literature
  • Jesse Nyiri, English
  • Jaleel Plummer, Joint PhD, Medical Anthropology

Congratulations, all!