Speaker Bios


Ian Balfour – English, York UniversityBalfour

Ian Balfour’s teaching and research interests include Romantic poetry and prose, contemporary theory and criticism, and 18th-century literature and philosophy (especially aesthetic theory and philosophy of language). He is the author of Northrop Frye (1988), The Rhetoric of Romantic Prophecy (2002) and of essays on the Romantics (Wordsworth, Blake, Godwin, Inchbald), Walter Benjamin, Paul de Man, and on topics in popular culture (music, TV, film). He co-edited with Atom Egoyan, Subtitles: On the Foreignness of Film, and with Eduardo Cadava, And Justice For All?: The Claims of Human Rights (SAQ), and is the sole editor of a collection called Late Derrida (SAQ). He has taught at Cornell, Stanford, the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, and Williams College, among others. He’s completing a book on the sublime.


Cazdyn_Photo-300x260Eric Cazdyn – Comparative Literature and East Asian Studies, U of T

Eric Cazdyn is Distinguished Professor of Aesthetics and Politics at the University of Toronto. He has written the following books: Nothing (with Marcus Boon and Timothy Morton, Chicago, 2015); The Already Dead (Duke, 2012), After Globalization (with Imre Szeman, Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), The Flash of Capital (Duke, 2002); and editor of Trespasses (Duke, 2010) and Disastrous Consequences (SAQ, 2007).  Cazdyn is currently engaged in a long-term project called The Blindspot Machine, composed of various films, live presentations, and a monograph. In the Winter of 2016, Cazdyn was Affiliated Fellow at the American Academy of Rome where he began developing the next variation of the blindspot project, one that focuses on movement and migrancy.

Rebeccacomay Comay – Comparative Literature and Philosophy, U of T

I work at the intersection of philosophy, art, and psychoanalysis, with a special focus on post-Hegelian political philosophy (including Marx, Benjamin and the Frankfurt School) and contemporary continental philosophy. I’m interested in questions of memory, trauma and the archive, and in particular in exploring the resources of psychoanalysis for social and cultural analysis.  I also write on art and architecture, and am engaged in a longstanding project on iconoclasm, ruins, and the destruction of images.  During 2016-17 I will be a Chancellor Jackman Research Fellow in the Jackman Humanities Institute, working on a research project on time and the unconscious, called “Arrhythmia of Spirit: Hegel and Interminable Analysis.”  This research forms part of a larger project called Deadlines, in which I’m trying to think about the strange temporality of the deadline — political, theological, psychoanalytic, literary, legal, biological, environmental and other sorts.

Melissa Gniadek

Melissa Gniadek – English, U of T

Melissa Gniadek teaches American literature and culture with a focus on the nineteenth century. Her research is motivated by questions about how relationships to place are negotiated through literature and through historical writings. More specifically, she is concerned with how the problems of settler colonialism—the problems inherent when colonizers from an “old” world seek to inhabit a “new” one already inhabited by others—are represented formally or aesthetically. Her work examines settlement as a problem that manifests itself across literary genres and cultural forms.

Her current book project, Unsettled Spaces, Unsettled Stories: Temporalities of Settlement in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, argues that settler colonialism, while often considered primarily in relation to territory and property, also manifests itself as a temporal problem in a range of nineteenth-century texts. A second project, Oceans at Home in Nineteenth-Century America, demonstrates how ideas about distant places like New Zealand circulated in the nineteenth-century U.S. This project contributes to the growing awareness of the place of the Pacific and the oceanic more generally in American literature and culture.



Kanishka Goonewardena – Geography and Planning, U of T

Kanishka Goonewardena is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, and Director of the Program in Planning. He received his Ph.D. in city and regional planning from Cornell in 1998. His research interests include critical theory and Marxist philosophy, architecture and urban planning, and colonialism, imperialism, nationalism.


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Ken Kawashima – East Asian Studies, U of T

To date, my work has focused on how to advance Marxist critiques of political economy after the critique of “essentialism”. Refusing to accept contemporary interpretations of Marx’s own discourse as “determinist”, I have focused on the antinomies of the logic of capital in the work of Marx to pursue a deceptively simple question: What does it mean to say, “The commodification of labor power?” I’ve answered this question by elaborating upon Marx’s concept of “surplus populations” and exchange, which has led me to examine the relationship between contingency and repetition in the process of commodification. But more historically, my research never ignores the many ways in which imperialism and colonialism pervert the antinomies of the logic of capital through discourses (among others) of national culture, race and multi-ethnic pluralism. My book, The Proletarian Gamble: Korean workers in interwar Japan (Duke UP 2009) fleshes out these questions and concepts while also mining the Japanese colonial and metropolitan archives of the 1920s and 1930s. My current research involves the first English translation of Uno Kozo’s Theory of Crisis; studies of biopolitics, commodification, and the “commons”; and, finally, practices of poesis and becoming in music and art.


Majumder-Atreyee-1-150x150Atreyee Majumder – Postdoctoral Fellow, Jackman Humanities Institute and Anthropology, U of T

I am fundamentally concerned with the instrument of the word in cultivation of ethical and political selves, especially the printed (published) word. In so doing, my work is rooted in the anthropology of the self. I edited and contributed to a Special Issue in the journal SAMAJ on the ‘postcolonial self’ in 2013. Further, my work shows a possibility of extrapolating from the geographic category of scale and moving towards an emerging world of anthropological inquiry of scale – in researching how people inhabit and play with scale in their lives.

In my book Friends of Capital (manuscript under preparation), I wish to evolve an anthropologically informed theory of writing as political and ethical work, in answering the question – why write? My answer, through this book, would be that people write to frame their selves on a broader scale of existence, transcend the confines of their historical and material circumstances. My dissertation and book manuscript titled Friends of Capital: On Longing and Belonging in an Urban-Industrial Hinterland are based on the ethnographic research in Howrah, in eastern India, on politics of scalar play and scale as a script for the quest for freedom, especially as a response to capital’s dynamic route across productive landscapes. I especially show that industrial capitalism does not render direct stances of resistance or affirmation, but oblique moves of lament, nostalgia, friendship and envy. In the book, I show an acute awareness of being left out of metropolitan knowledge economies and attendant opportunities, in registers of public gesture, speech and especially, cultures of local history-writing. I narrate lives lived with anxious utterances and writings, in response to several cycles of violent inroad of industrial capital for over a century in this hinterland Howrah, across the river Hooghly, on the edges of the colonial capital-city Kolkata.



David McNally – Political Science, York University

David McNally teaches political science at York University Toronto and actively supports numerous social justice movements in that city.

As a high school student, David McNally joined the movement against the Vietnam War; on entering university, he organized a campus chapter of the Committee to Free Angela Davis—early steps in a lifetime of activism in global justice, anti-racist, and socialist movements. Along the way, he earned a Ph.D. in Social and Political Thought in 1983 and was hired as Professor of Political Science at York University, Toronto, where he continues to teach.

David is the author of six books: Political Economy and the Rise of Capitalism (1988); Against the Market: Political Economy Market Socialism and the Marxist Critique (1993); Bodies of Meaning: Studies on Language, Labor and Liberation (2001); Another World is Possible: Globalization and Anti-Capitalism (2002; second revised edition 2006); Global Slump: The Economics and Politics of Crisis and Resistance (2010) and Monsters of the Market: Zombies, Vampires and Global Capitalism (2011). His articles have appeared in many journals, including Historical Materialism, Capital and Class, History of Political Thought, New Politics, Studies in Political Economy, and Review of Radical Political Economics.

David’s research interests include the theory and practice of democracy, Marxism and anti-racism, socialist-feminism, classical and Marxian political economy, Hegel and dialectical social theory, and the history of anti-capitalist movements.

David actively supports a number of organizations including the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, No One Is Illegal—Toronto, Faculty for Palestine/Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid, the New Socialist Group, and the Greater Toronto Workers Assembly. He is also on the Advisory Editorial Board for Historical Materialism: A Journal of Critical Marxist Research and is a member of the Toronto Historical Materialism Group, which organizes a biennial conference at York University.



Joshua Moufawad-Paul – Philosophy, York University

J. Moufawad-Paul lives in Toronto and works as casualized contract faculty at York University where he received his PhD in philosophy. He shares a living space with his partner, Vicky Moufawad-Paul, a brilliant artist and curator, and his daughter, Samiya, who will invariably lead the revolution once she realizes her *Moomin* books are not necessarily revolutionary theory. J. Moufawad-Paul blogs regularly at MLM Mayhem and his first book, *The Communist Necessity*, was published by Kersplebedeb in 2014.


Leo PanOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAitch – Political Science, York University

Leo Panitch is a Distinguished Research Professor, renowned political economist, Marxist theorist and editor of the Socialist Register. He received a B.A. (Hons.) from the University of Manitoba in 1967 and a M.Sc.(Hons.) and PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1968 and 1974, respectively. He was a Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor at Carleton University between 1972 and 1984. He has been a Professor of Political Science at York University since 1984. He was the Chair of the Department of Political Science at York from 1988-1994. He was the General Co-editor of State and Economic Life series, U. of T. Press, from 1979 to 1995 and is the Co-founder and a Board Member of Studies in Political Economy. He is also the author of numerous articles and books dealing with political science including The End of Parliamentary Socialism (1997). He was a member of the Movement for an Independent and Socialist Canada, 1973-1975, the Ottawa Committee for Labour Action, 1975-1984, the Canadian Political Science Association, the Committee of Socialist Studies, the Marxist Institute and the Royal Society of Canada. He is currently a supporter of the Socialist Project. (Bio courtesy of Fernwood Publishing).