David Kazanjian

Professor of English and Comparative Literature

David Kazanjian received his PhD from the Rhetoric Department at the University of California, Berkeley, his M.A. in Critical Theory from the University of Sussex, and his B.A. in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University. He specializes in Armenian diaspora studies, as well as transnational American literary and historical studies through the 19th century, political philosophy, continental philosophy, postcolonial studies, and Latin American studies (especially 17th through 19th-century Mexico). He has published widely on the cultural politics of the North American-Armenian diaspora, including most recently “Save, Destroy,” an article on family archives, forthcoming in Afterlives: Material and Literary Remnants, Ruins, and Representations of the Armenian Genocide, eds. Melanie Tanielian, Hülya Adak, and Erdag Goknar (Durham: Duke University Press); and “Storation: A Small Guide to Undoing Restoration,” an article on the collage artwork of Aikaterini Gegisian, forthcoming in Critical Approaches to Genocide: Aesthetics, History and Politics of 1915, ed. Hülya Adak (London: Routledge Press). His other recent work in the field includes an introduction to a special issue of Armenian Review on queering Armenian studies, “Self-Portrait as a Queered Armenian Studies,” Special Issue on Queering Armenian Studies, Armenian Review 56.1-2 (Spring-Summer, 2018); “Diasporic Flânerie: From Armenian Ruinenlust to Armenia’s Walkscapes,” An Armenian Mediterranean: Words and Worlds in Motion, eds. Michael Pifer and Kathryn Babayan (London: Palgrave. 2018), 221-246; “Kinships Past, Kinship’s Futures,’” Getuigen: Tussen Geschiedenis en Herinnering/Testimony: Between History and Memory 120.1 (April 2015): 103-111. He contributed entries to both the Turkish and the Armenian Pavilion catalogues for the 2015 Venice Biennale, with the Armenian Pavilion winning the Golden Lion Award for best pavilion. His co-edited (with David L. Eng) volume Loss: The Politics of Mourning (California) considers the actively political dynamics of socio-political mourning for catastrophic loss. He is currently at work on a monograph entitled Kinships Past, Kinship's Futures, which tracks the emergent re-orientation of Armenian diasporic cultural politics away from the normative task of identity consolidation and toward an openness to odar worlds.

Kazanjian has been a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, a Wertheim Scholar at the New York Public Library, and a fellow at the John Carter Brown Library. He has received grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. His first book The Colonizing Trick: National Culture and Imperial Citizenship in Early America (Minnesota) offers a comparative study of colonial and antebellum, racial and national formations, and a critique of the formal egalitarianism that animated early U.S. citizenship. He has also co-edited (with Shay Brawn, Bonnie Dow, Lisa Maria Hogeland, Mary Klages, Deb Meem, and Rhonda Pettit) The Aunt Lute Anthology of U.S. Women Writers, Volume One: Seventeenth through Nineteenth Centuries (Aunt Lute Books). He co-edits—with Priscilla Wald (Duke) and Elizabeth McHenry (NYU)—a book series on America and the Long 19th Century for NYU Press. He is a member of the editorial collective of the journal Social Text and of the organizing collective of the Tepoztlán Institute for Transnational History of the Americas, which he co-directed from 2017-19. His most recent monograph, The Brink of Freedom: Improvising Life in the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World (Duke) is a study of two 19th-century social movements (the black settler colonization of Liberia and the Caste War of Yucatán) that improvised with liberal discursive practices of freedom. He is currently at work on a monograph entitled Ante-Possession: The Afterlives of Dispossession, a study of 17th and 18th-century legal cases of dispossession in New England and Yucatán.