Participants

Here are the bios for the participants in the 2021 online Summer Program.

Mara Cayarga is Philosophy PhD student at Emory University. Her research interests lie in Marxism, psychoanalysis, German idealism, and critical race theory. She recently graduated from the University of New Mexico with a BA in Philosophy and Political Science and will be commencing her doctoral degree in the fall. Her research at the Critical Theory Workshop/Atelier De Théorie Critique will examine black cultural movements and aesthetics as revolutionary tools with a particular focus on the connection between black cultural movements and surrealism. By examining the work of prominent black intellectuals such as Aimé Césaire, Wilfredo Lam, and Richard Wright, her work will argue that surrealism provides a bridge between Marxism and the black radical tradition. Mara has also worked as a film critic where she examined women’s representation in media. She has a specific interest in Spanish cinema and published numerous reviews including All About My Mother: An Ode To Mothers, Actresses, and Women were she reviewed Pedro Almodóvar’s film Todo Sobre Mi Madre.

Josue Chavez is a PhD student in the Hispanic Studies doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania. He researches aesthetic forms and practices pertaining to contemporary Central America, the diaspora and their relation to global, political economy. For CTW, Josue will be situating the aesthetic-ideological project of popular education carried out by Berta Caceres and the organization she led before her murder in 2016, COPINH, as well as formally analyzing  narrative representations of this process by women organizers in Honduras. This is part of a larger, incipient project: a transnational, aesthetic history of class struggle in Central America from the late 60s to the present.

Ray Cheung is a PhD candidate from the Philosophy Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He uses formal theories such as decision theory game theory probability theory modal logic computation theory learning theory and connectionism to describe the metaphysics of action. The resultant logic of action shall empower us to understand the failure forms of right acts – be they immoral or imprudent.
hongkongray.com/
raycheung@link.cuhk.edu.hk

Shayna Marie Davidson is an MA student in French Literature at the University of New Mexico (UNM). She holds a double BA in French and Intercultural Communication from UNM and has taught English to primary school students in Avignon. Her Master’s thesis research will explore independently published zines as a literary counter to la bande dessinée, inquiring into the potential of zines as a hub of activism, resistance, and mobilization especially within French speaking queer communities. As a matter of independently published ephemera, zines present an important and interesting demarcation from a Foucauldian approach to authorship that actively blends media styles and operates subversively outside of the culture-capitalistic literary canon. Her more generalized research interests include intersectionality, global feminisms, queer theory, and anti-racist and anti-capitalist approaches to academia. Shayna can be contacted at smdavidson19@unm.edu

Niko Doezema is an MA student in Comparative Literature at the University of New Mexico, working in French and Arabic in addition to English. Born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he has also studied and worked in Morocco, France, and Oman. Niko’s thesis will synthesize his disparate interests by examining contemporary Youtube “selfie-stick tourism” through the lenses of travel literature, film theory, and postcolonial studies, likely in a Maghrebi context. E-mail: nikodoezema@gmail.com

Jenny Andrine Madsen Evang is a PhD student in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University. Jenny’s research uses queer theory to address broader questions of knowledge production. She is particularly interested in rethinking the stakes of queer historiography and temporality. Her research focuses on how we produce and use archives in a broad sense, including national and institutional archives, contemporary media archives, and the status and the notion of the archive as such. Furthermore, she researches the current relations among Nordic homonationalism, the rhetoric of gender equality, and xenophobia. For CTW, she will be working on a project that analyses the (mis)appropriation of postcolonial theory by current anti-gender rhetoric in Europe to shed light on the interconnectivity of transphobia and Islamophobia in reactionary anti-gender movements. She can be contacted at jennyme@stanford.edu.

Jonathan Ezequiel Donabo is a poet, dancer, scholar, and the author of Nolan (2020). He is a PhD student and Eugene Cota Robles Fellow at UCR’s English Department. His poetry has appeared in Dunes Review and his debut book of poetry Nolan was published by small press Pronto. He has also been featured in, internationally renowned studio, Snowglobe Perspective’s dance company in Los Angeles.  Their research contends with representations of movement, erotics, race, gender, and violence in 20th-21st century hemispheric American literature and performance.

Constanza Filloy is a Ph.D. student of Philosophy at the University of Córdoba, Argentina. Her licentiate thesis was based on the concept of practice in Louis Althusser and it explored the contributions of the principle of the primacy of practice to critical theory. Her current research project is focused on the connection between contemporary value theory and the logic of history. At the CTW she will aim at exploring the consequences of adopting the thesis that abstract labor is the structure specific to capitalism for dialectical thinking.

Nico Fonseca is an undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania studying Comparative Literature and Latin American Studies. He is interested in the revolutionary possibilities of film and filmmaking, particularly materialist notions of sensation and space-time in Latin American and Indigenous cinema. At CTW, he aims to develop his upcoming thesis which explores an insurgent theory of pedagogy as articulated in Cuban, Argentine, and Andean cinema in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Felipe Kaiser Fernandes is a PhD student in Political Anthropology at the Institut Interdisciplinaire d’Anthropologie du Contemporain (IIAC) of the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) and a PhD-fellow at the Centre français de recherche en sciences sociales (CEFRES) in Prague. He holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Federal University of Ceará (UFC) and received an M.A in Business Management at the State University of Ceará (UECE) and in Sociology at the Université Paris VIII-Vincennes-Saint-Denis. His thesis research is conducted under the direction of Professor Sophie Wahnich (CNRS) and explores the modes of sociality among the Vietnamese community in Czech Republic. His focus on the nexus of religiosity, commercialism and politics of belonging is drawn from long-term fieldwork in visible and less visible settings of Vietnamese presence in Prague and its interconnectedness with global diasporic networks.

Anastasia Klimchynskaya is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Stevanovich Institute on the Formation of Knowledge at the University of Chicago, having received her PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory from the University of Pennsylvania. Her current book project focuses on the emergence of science fiction in the nineteenth century as a reflection of, and response to, a fundamental recalibration of humanity’s understanding of its place in the world. In particular, it attends to the intersections between the Western conception of science as conquest (“empire”) over the natural world that reached its culmination in the nineteenth century and the imperial practices of the period, arguing that both underlie the formal framework of science fiction from its inception while investigating how the genre’s radical potential might nonetheless be recuperated. For CTW, she will focus on a chapter of her current book project that theorizes science fiction’s “factual reporting of fictions,” attending to the way this formal characteristic is a product of the genre’s material conditions of production and dissemination – i.e. the nineteenth-century mass-produced periodical, which frequently blurred the line between fiction writing and factual reporting. Thus bridging the history of science, literary theory, and material history, she hopes to better understand the co-production between scientific practices, the paradigms and conceptual frameworks they exist within, and their material conditions of production. Email: aklimchynskaya@uchicago.edu

Yuliia Kulish is a Ph.D. student in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Ukraine. Her research focuses on the radical bond between politics and aesthetics and the question of everyday life’s influence on art. Other academic interests concern theory of literature, phenomenology, and critical theory. Also, she is a founder of an experimental reading club, Neoclub, which follows the discursive branch of Guy Debord’s psychogeographic approach, based on reinventing the city, everyday life transformation, and questioning environment, both material and social. This summer Yuliia’s project is centered around exploring the revival of Situationists’ practices in the intercultural scale and analyzing the 2-year experience of the phenomenon of Neoclub, its significance in terms of urban life, free education, and cultural life. My e-mails: yuliia.kulish@ukma.edu.ua thestrangesmile@gmail.com

Megan Lentz is an undergraduate student in English at the University of Pennsylvania. They are working on their senior thesis, a critical-creative comic exploring the ideological work performed in cultural representations and imaginations of Florida as strange and grotesque. She proposes that these depictions negotiate neoliberal and racial violence in the state through surrealist and absurdist terms to rationalize, inoculate, and obscure such violence, and considers how this work might further entrench Florida’s neoliberal politics. They will attend particularly to the state’s rapid expansion of its prison-industrial infrastructure and reinforcement of cycles of debt and economic precarity. At CTW/ATC she hopes to ground her research further within a historical materialist perspective informed by theorists of ideology and cultural hegemony, including Althusser and Gramsci. Their broader academic interests include anticolonial theory, the Black radical tradition, leftist aesthetics and cultural production, comics studies, affect theory, and queer theory.

Caitlin Love is pursuing her Master’s in philosophy at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. Her research interests are in German aesthetics, Marxist and critical theory, and environmental philosophy. The paper she’s developing at the CTW is a study of Theodor Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory, in which she argues for the reasons why the making of artworks actually serves an ecological end and why we may have a moral imperative to cultivate an “authentic” aesthetic sensibility (according to Adorno). Caitlin has worked as an editor at the Oxford American and The Paris Review magazines. She’s currently a freelance fact-checker—the last project she helped check was Day X, a New York Times podcast about the resurgence of the far-right in Germany. 

Tyler Loveless is an editor and researcher living in Washington, DC. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Master of Arts in Philosophy from the George Washington University. His research interests included phenomenology, psychoanalytic theory, post-structuralism, and contemporary Continental philosophy more broadly. His latest work explores the “re-enchanted” status of data sciences in contemporary Western cultures, drawing heavily on Silvia Federici’s historical account of prophecy and its replacement with statistics and demography during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as well as Max Weber’s theory of “disenchantment” and its subsequent adaptations by Frankfurt School theorists.

Emily Mazo is a software engineer, adjunct lecturer, and writer based in New York City. She researches labor organizing in the United States, especially the effects of neoliberalism on the false consciousness of workers in strategic economic sectors, and tactics to combat those effects. During the CTW she will be studying Marxist philosophies of social solidarity and class consciousness, and working on a book chapter on how to turn an understanding of those perspectives into strategies to foster solidarity between workers in strategic industries.

Misha McDaniel is a Ph.D. student in the department of English and Black Studies at the University of Chicago. She just graduated from the University of Pennsylvania this past semester with a B.A. in English with a concentration in creative writing, a minor in Africana Studies, and a certificate in French. Her research interests include contemporary African-American speculative literature, Black feminist theory and ideology, theories surrounding the afterlives of slavery and the transAtlantic catastrophe, performance and popular culture, cycles of colonialism, interpersonal and state sanctioned violence, and Blackface and minstrelsy. Misha’s project for the Critical Theory Workshop is a continuance of her creative writing honors thesis, a secondary world fantasy novel tentatively titled “Finding Solstice.” Using a Black feminist framework, her project grapples with epistemology and the archive by centering lived experience and familial and spatial memory as crucial components to resistance. Inspired by Ruha Benjamin, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and N.K. Jemisin’s deliberate synthesization of the critical and creative, of using fiction to think about alternative, ethical, and just realities, Misha’s project focuses on the relationship between imagination, possibility, and potential in the context of liberation from an oppressive world order. Thinking specifically about kinship, she also focuses on the relationship between ancestors and their descendants, what has to be sacrificed to ensure that there is a future, and what it means to be denied the freedom of potential.

Khanyile Mlotshwa undertook his PhD (Media and Cultural Studies) degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus in South Africa. His research was a postcolonial/decolonial critique of the intersections of the media, migration, and the urban in representations of black subjectivity in post-apartheid South Africa. Mlotshwa experiments with transdisciplinary approaches in urban, migration, border, media and cultural studies. He has published work in peer-reviewed journals such as Agenda, Cross-cultural Human Rights Review, Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture and Lateral, among others. He has published chapters in edited collections by Routledge, Palgrave and Lexington publishers, among others.

Ahsan Moghul is a writer, researcher, and filmmaker based in Toronto, Canada. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto and started his MA in Communication & Culture at York University. Ahsan’s research interests include critical theory, literature, political economy, and the Middle East. Some of his previous jobs include serving as a union steward at a grocery store, working as an editorial assistant at Iran Namag: A Quarterly in Iranian Studies, and serving as an MA Research Associate at the Infoscape Research Lab. His most recent film project was ‘The Politics of Preemption’, where he worked as a visual researcher and film-editor. During the Critical Theory Workshop he would like to work his documentary thesis which explores neoliberal subjectivity in Dubai.

Ludwig Beethoven J. Noya is a Ph.D. student in Religious Studies majoring in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near East at Vanderbilt University. He holds master’s degrees from Boston University and Ecumenical Theological Seminary. Ludwig’s additional studies include courses in Classical Hebrew and Archaeology from Harvard University, Boston College, and Tel Aviv University. As he is interested in interrogating texts with specific attention to their social, economic, and political contexts, Ludwig’s proposed dissertation topic will explore the narratives on Sabbath transgression in the Hebrew Bible through postcolonial, gender, and class analysis.

Daniel Otero  is a grassroots activist/promotor and a popular education facilitator. His main involvement has being through decolonial studies, indigenous autonomy, anarchy and other forms of insurrection towards the necropolitic system such as the accompaniment to relatives of disappeared people.  He majored on International Relations (ITESO) and later specialized on International Humanitarian Law of Refugees and Stateless persons (UPEACE). He is currently on the last semester of his Master degree on Critical Studies (17, Institute of Critical Studies). His project, a master thesis, is a critical cartography of the absentia that will map all the possibilities of resistance that the contradictions and the liminal spaces provide. This mapping weaves the Derridian concept of spectrality, taking it from the literary world unto the political realm, to talk about what is absent even if it “hidden” at plain sight and to give a political nuance to the subjectivities of the experiences and voices of the families of the disappeared.  

Nicholas Raffel is a recent graduate of the Philosophy and Art MA Program at Stony Brook University. He also holds a BA in English with a minor in Philosophy from Stony Brook University, for which he completed a thesis on the secular poetics of Wallace Stevens. Nick’s research interests include critical phenomenology, post-structuralism, literary theory, and the history and theory of anarchism. As part of the Critical Theory Workshop, he aims to improve his command of the tools provided by the robust tradition of critical theory. Nick can be reached at neraffel@gmail.com.

Dr. Syed Tahseen Raza is a founding faculty member at the Department of Strategic and Security Studies, faculty of International Studies, Aligarh Muslim University, India. A keen student of international politics and security, he has had his educational grounding primarily in Political Science along with added emphasis on peace studies of late. His PhD is in Political Science and International Relations and has authored a well received book titled, ‘United States and Pakistan in the 21st Century: Geo-strategy and Geopolitics in South Asia, Routldge, 2020” His current research interests lie broadly at the intersection of security and peace by effectively exploring the hitherto less explored and the marginalized both in terms of the explicitly manifest and in view of the underlying deeper episteme. Basing his work on Critical theory approaches, Raza is mainly interested in questioning the ‘established’, exploring ‘the alternatives’ and highlighting the ‘less-observed’, how certain issues and areas gravitate from the ‘political’ to the ‘securitised’ and acquire the ‘strategic gaze’?, what makes an issue become ‘securitised’? etc. In terms of concepts, his current focus broadly revolves around issues of Identity, Religiosity, Marginalisation, Gender, Migration, Localisation and Indigenous Conflict Resolution and their impact on the process of Security and Peace etc. His project for Critical Theory Workshop focuses on Minority women with the case study of Muslim women led movement against Citizenship Amendment Act in India. He can be contacted at “tahseen.sss@amu.ac.in” 

Łukasz Risso is a a postgraduate student in Cultural Anthropology at the University of Bologna, In the past year his research focused on the relationship between „public space” and „free time”. Using the theoretical framework of critical geography (mainly works of Henri Lefebvre), marxist geography, works of the Situationist International, he is conducting fieldwork about a persisting conflict around one of Bologna’s main squares, trying to answer questions about the „right to the city” and the possibility of bottom -up governance of public spaces. Reflecting on the ways in which the global pandemic has affected the rhythms of our lives, for his Master dissertation he is looking at the metabolism of Piazza Verdi, in Bologna (Italy), and exploring the relationship between securitisation, free time and political participation. lukasz.risso@studio.unibo.it

Carlos Alberto Rivera Carreño is a Ph.D. student in Economics at the École doctorale 486 SEG (University Lyon 2, France), working on the history of economic thought. His dissertation deals with the influence of French economist Jean-Gustave Courcelle-Seneuil as professor of political economy and adviser to the Chilean Ministry of Finance in the mid-nineteenth century. This dissertation seeks to question the commonsense understanding of nineteenth-century political economy as a pre-scientific precursor to modern “rigorous” economic science by analyzing the
articulation in Courcelle-Seneuil’s work between “economic” and “juridical” thinking. Still on the look for a theoretical framework for the dissertation, this summer, Carlos will continue his exploration of the ideas of Soviet jurist Evguieni Pachukanis, who believed that legal “forms” were the correlative of the capitalist social relations of production. Other academic interests include “peripheral” Marxism (Che Guevara, Thomas Sankara, etc.) and the history of economic institutions (money, credit, debt, subordinated work, etc.).

Emiliano Silva Izquierdo is an independent artist, co-founder of the Santiago/Minneapolis based 13 Lunas Arts Collective, The Pachamama Band, and The Brecht Circle. He is finishing a double major BA degree in Studies in Cinema & Media Culture and Theatre at the University of Minnesota. He is currently working in the development of a critique of the political economy of the neoliberal stage from a Marxist/Brechtian perspective. The critique seeks to illustrate the mechanisms through which hegemonic neoliberal cultural/economic models and traditions are reproduced in academia to the exclusion of true revolutionary approaches to the stage, and to show how these ideological mechanisms are normalized to prevent the emergence of any form of anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, counter-cultural projects. At the CTW, he would like to situate the discussions around Brecht in the context of Cold War cultural imperialism in order to explore in depth the ways in which postmodern discursivity is deployed in academia to reject and dismiss a priori Brecht’s idea of a Marxist stage. The aim is to contrast Brecht’s ideas about radicality and revolutionary art to the postmodern ideological project that masquerades as radical while advancing reactionary/bourgeois/aristocratic cultural traditions. E-mail: Silva076@umn.edu

Míša Stekl is a PhD student in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University. Míša’s research addresses questions of sexuality and race in queer and trans studies, 19th– and 20th-century continental philosophy, as well as English and French/Francophone literature and media. They are most interested in how theories such as psychoanalysis and deconstruction have been deployed to complicate conventional understandings of sexual identity and subjectivity, and how these que(e)ries might illuminate — and be illuminated by — literature, performance, film, and other media. At the same time, Míša also takes up the important critiques of the colorblindness of queer theory’s foundational texts, especially those critiques generated by Black studies; inspired by these critiques, Míša is interested in how anti-Blackness and coloniality inform (post)modern constructions of sexuality. Their current project investigates how the Rachel Dolezal affair reflects liberal assumptions about identity that tend to subsume (trans)gender and Blackness as ontologically equivalent, analogous constructions. They will ask how some such assumptions have made their way into queer and trans studies, and how they might be complicated by entering our fields into dialogue with Black studies and Afropessimism in particular. They can be contacted at mstekl@stanford.edu.

Karnarajsinh Vaghela (called Karna) is a research student at OP Jindal Global University, Delhi. His research project is based on the interconnectedness of all of the following phenomena: ideology, gaps in free will, noesis, posthuman archetypes, governmentality, media, deterritorialization, heterotopias, nihilism, and damage-control in and of the Anthropocene. In the Critical Theory Workshop Karna seeks to sharpen his grasp of Critical Theory as an instrument, particularly on matters of agency in the posthuman condition. His output through the workshop will be a critical-theoretical analysis of free-will, i.e. the socio-political impact of the assumption that human actions are a result of free-willed agency. This raises questions for democratic practices, posthuman optimism, and neoliberal hegemony.

Chenrui Zhao is a Ph.D. Candidate in English at Binghamton University. Her research focuses on the global production of neoliberal racialization in the 21st century and the resistant strategies offered by AfroAsia coalitional traditions and the global south. Her writing merits from the third world, queer, and women of color feminism. Tracing the production of global Asia, her research contends  “Aisa” as not only an emerging neoliberal superpower that reconfigures relationalities among communities but also a theoretical formation with which alternatives to global capitalistic extractivism could be thought. She has been serving as a graduate instructor and a conference organizer for the English department at Binghamton University. Part of her research is published in Verge Q&A 8.1 in essay forms.