Biography

Gavin Walker is a critic, theorist, and intellectual historian of modern Japanese and European thought and literature. His scholarship and teaching in the interdisciplinary critical humanities spans philosophy, psychoanalysis, literature, visual studies, history, and political economy in order to examine global debates on nationalism, capitalism, the postcolonial, and the status of difference after the critique of essentialism, alongside theories of translation, ideology, subjectivity, and the status of the political. His most recent scholarship deals particularly with the formation of twentieth century Japanese thought, French thought of ’68 and after (especially Althusser, Lacan, and their students), the contemporaneity of the national question, the status of ‘area studies’ after globalization, and the global intellectual history of Marxist theory. 

He is an Associate Professor in the Departments of History and East Asian Studies at McGill University. Trained at Penn (BA, MA) and Cornell (PhD) in cultural studies, visual studies, East Asian languages, French and comparative literature and critical theory, he is a member of the editorial collective of positions: asia critique (Duke University Press), and a former Mellon Fellow at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University. In recent years, he has been a Visiting Researcher at Hitotsubashi University, a member of the editorial committee of the Journal of the Canadian Historical Association / Revue de la Société historique du Canada, a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for the Public Life of Arts & Ideas at McGill, and a Visiting Professor in the Institute for Research in the Humanities at Kyoto University.

Walker is a founder and co-director, in collaboration with colleagues in the departments of English, Philosophy, and Political Science, of Critical Social Theory at McGill, a research group and series based at McGill University devoted to interdisciplinary, inter-university and global work in critical theory. He is the recipient of numerous individual grants from institutions such as the Japan Foundation (Canada, US, and UK), the Fulbright Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Fonds québécois de recherche – société et culture, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, including a current SSHRC Insight Grant. 

He is the author of The Sublime Perversion of Capital (Duke University Press, 2016), the editor of The Japanese ’68: Theory, Politics, Aesthetics (Verso, 2019) and The End of Area: Biopolitics, Geopolitics, History (with Naoki Sakai, Duke University Press, 2019), the editor and translator of Kojin Karatani’s Marx: Towards the Centre of Possibility (Verso, 2019), and the co-editor of The Archive of Revolution: Marxist Historiography in Modern Japan (with Katsuya Hirano). His writing has appeared in numerous volumes, along with journals such as Jacobin, Viewpoint, Historical Materialism, Rethinking Marxism, Theory & Event, South Atlantic Quarterly, Postmodern Culture, Interventions, positions, Postcolonial Studies, and more. 

A current CV is available on request.