Biography

Gavin Walker is a critic, theorist, and intellectual historian of modern European and Japanese 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 Associate Professor in the Department of History at McGill University. Walker is the author of The Sublime Perversion of Capital (Duke University Press, 2016), the editor of The End of Area: Biopolitics, Geopolitics, History (with Naoki Sakai, Duke University Press, 2019), The Red Years: Theory, Politics, and Aesthetics in the Japanese ’68 (Verso, 2020), and Marx, Asia, and the History of the Present (a special issue of episteme) for positionspolitics.org (2020); the editor and translator of Kojin Karatani’s Marx: Towards the Centre of Possibility (Verso, 2020), and the co-editor of The Archive of Revolution: Marxist Historiography in Modern Japan (with Katsuya Hirano). Over 50 articles and chapters in critical theory, intellectual history, literary studies, and contemporary philosophy have been published in journals such as Jacobin, Viewpoint, Historical Materialism, Rethinking Marxism, Theory & Event, South Atlantic Quarterly, Postmodern Culture, Interventions, positions, Postcolonial Studies, and more. 

Trained at Penn (BA, MA) and Cornell (PhD) in critical theory, intellectual history, cultural and visual studies, East Asian languages, French, and comparative literature, 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. His work has been supported by 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. 

A current CV is available on request.