AMS Colloquium: “Shadows of Catastrophe”

04/12/2021 (All day)
Antonio Vázquez-Arroyo Associate Professor of Political Science, Rutgers University-Newark

This talk explores the intersection between narratives of catastrophe and contemporary political life by taking the current pandemic as its occasion and point of departure. Diseases caused by viral mutations are accompanied by a particular way of narrating crises and catastrophes. Conceptualizing the current ongoing crisis through categories that adequately grasp the social and political stakes involved is important not only for a political comprehension of — or at least coming to terms with — what is currently unfolding, but to grasp the ways in which the current pandemic has advanced through an already catastrophic situation that presents openings and occasions for political change.

Antonio Vázquez-Arroyo’s teaching and research interest are interdisciplinary and engage with contemporary political questions, always in engagement with the history of political thought broadly understood. His book Political Responsibility: Responding to Predicaments of Power (Columbia University Press, 2016) consists of a political and conceptual critique of the ethical turn in the humanities and social science, and a defense of a robustly political understanding of responsibility. He is finishing a book-length manuscript that presents a sustained engagement with the dialectical legacy of Hegelian-Marxism and its two most prominent heirs, Theodor W. Adorno and Fredric Jameson, to think not only about the political and critical import of dialectical thinking today and the relationship between theory and critical theory, but to explore its relevance in conceptualizing universal history. Among his other projects is an exploration of modalities of catastrophe and how they intersect with contemporary political life, and a novel interpretation of transatlantic political thought that offers a critique of “decolonial thought” and formulates dialectical interpretation of the historicity of political thought and concepts like colonialism, utopia, and enlightenment.


event page:

registration page:



Program in American Studies

Department of English

Department of Politics