EUC Professor Ilan Kapoor releases book on contemporary global politics

An open book

Join York University Professor Ilan Kapoor from the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC) on Friday, Nov. 19 from 12 to 1:30 p.m. (EST) for the virtual launch of his new book, Universal Politics (Oxford University Press, 2021), co-written with Whitman College Professor Zahi Zalloua.

In Universal Politics, Kapoor and Zalloua argue that, in the face of the relentless advance of global capitalism, a universal politics is needed today more than ever. But rather than appealing to the narrow particularism of identity politics, the authors argue for a negative universality rooted in social antagonism (i.e. shared experiences of exploitation and marginalization). This conception of shared struggle avoids the trap of a neocolonial universalism (e.g. the rights of Europeans parading as universal rights), while foregrounding the politics of the systematically dispossessed and excluded.

York University Professor Ilan Kapoor (left) and the cover of his new book, "Universal Politics" by Ilan Kapoor and Zahi Zalloua (right)
Ilan Kapoor (left) and the cover of his new book, Universal Politics (right)

“At a time when capitalist globalization appears to be the only universal and particularisms (identity politics, ethnic nationalisms) are exploding around the globe, there is a pressing need for a universal politics,” says Kapoor.

The book examines what a universal politics might look like in the context of key current global sites of struggle, including climate change, workers’ struggles, the Palestinian question, the refugee crisis, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, political Islam, the Bolivian state under Morales, the European Union and COVID-19. It also discusses the main political ingredients, gaps and limitations of a universal politics.

Kapoor is a professor of critical development studies in York’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change. His research focuses on psychoanalytic and postcolonial theory and politics, participatory development and democracy, and ideology critique. He is the author of The Postcolonial Politics of Development (2008), Celebrity Humanitarianism: The Ideology of Global Charity (2013) and Confronting Desire: Psychoanalysis and International Development (2020); and editor of the collected volume Psychoanalysis and the Global (2018).

Zalloua is the Cushing Eells Professor of Philosophy and Literature, and a professor of French and interdisciplinary studies at Whitman College in Washington, and editor of The Comparatist. He is the author of Being Posthuman: Ontologies of the Future (2021), Zizek on Race Toward an Anti-Racist Future (2020), Theory’s Autoimmunity: Skepticism, Literature, and Philosophy (2018), Continental Philosophy and the Palestinian Question: Beyond the Jew and the Greek (2017), Reading Unruly: Interpretation and Its Ethical Demands (2014), and Montaigne and the Ethics of Skepticism (2003). He has also published articles, edited volumes, and special journal issues on globalization, literary theory, psychoanalysis, and cultural and trauma studies.

Speaking at the Universal Politics book launch will be: Sheila Cavanagh, a professor of sociology at York University; Anna Kornbluh, a professor of English at the University of Illinois in Chicago; and the book’s co-authors, Kapoor and Zalloua. The event will be moderated by Philip Kelly, professor and associate dean of research in York’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change.

All are welcome to attend the event. To register, visit