Didier Zuniga

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Arts - Political Science Dept

Pronouns: he/him

Contact

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Arts - Political Science Dept
Email
didier@ualberta.ca

Overview

Area of Study / Keywords

Nature Environment Ecology Feminist theories Knowledge production Posthumanism New Materialisms Non-western & non-canonical political theory Comparative political thought


About

I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. I was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre de Recherche en Éthique in Montreal (2022-2023), and a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at McGill University (2020-2022). I received my PhD in Political Theory from the University of Victoria, British Columbia (2020). I was born and raised in Mexico City.


Research

My research is oriented towards learning from and engaging with alternative ways of relating to the multiplicity of beings, ecosystems, and interconnected webs of life on Earth. My main goal is to extend ethics and politics beyond conventional understandings of ‘the human’, and thus to deparochialize and to ecologize political thought. While my work traverses disciplinary boundaries, it is primarily situated within political theory, with a focus on environmental and ecological thinking, feminist theories, Indigenous politics, disability studies, and critical animal studies, among others. I have also developed a growing interest in comparative political theory, as well as decolonial, anti-colonial, and postcolonial thought. Within these sub-fields, my work delves into the interplay between nature, science and technology (in the sense of how knowledge is produced and for what purposes), and ontology, with a specific focus on Mexico and Mesoamerican worlds.

Please visit my website for a list of publications. 


Teaching

I am keenly interested in supervising graduate students with a broad range of interests within the field of political theory, particularly those with a passion for exploring environmental and ecological political thought, as well as ethics and politics beyond 'the human'. I welcome students who draw from critical approaches, especially feminist theories, decolonial, postcolonial, and anti-colonial thought, comparative political theory, disability studies, and critical animal studies. 

I teach political theory courses that focus on climate, the environment, and ecology, incorporating interdisciplinary and critical perspectives. In 2024-2025, I will be teaching the following courses:

POL S 302, Fall 2024: "Topics in Political Theory: Nature"

Description: The aim of this course is to undertake a critical examination of prevailing conceptions of ‘nature’. This includes questioning what is nature, who and/or what is said to form part of it, what is the relationship between social and ecological systems, among others, as well as evaluating the significance and implications these views hold for political theory. The main goal of the course will be to engage with a wide array of interdisciplinary scholarship with the aim of learning to ecologize how we think about ethics and politics. This will involve interrogating the disconnection between humans and nature—and hence, the binary distinction between culture and nature—and problematizing the perspectives and frameworks through which nature is conventionally approached. This will also require paying attention to the notion of the Anthropocene and scrutinizing the underlying conception of the human being (Anthropos) that such notion presupposes. This will allow us, in turn, to shed light on the ways in which dominant social systems subordinate, control, commodify, and exploit that which falls beyond prevalent notions of what it means to be human. In response to this, we will think about how to cultivate ethical practices of deep listening, receptivity, and responsiveness to the multiplicity of beings—human and nonhuman—that inhabit the world. Moreover, we will ask what ways of relating to nonhuman life should be nurtured and protected and which should not. Our purpose will be to equip ourselves with the necessary tools to challenge the underlying logic of mastery that drives the domination of nature, and thereby to articulate alternative political possibilities.

POL S 410 / POL S 514, Fall 2024: "Feminist STS, New Materialisms, Posthumanism"

Description: This course will focus on how science and technology have been used to respond to the challenges of anthropogenic climate change. The main goal of the course will be to engage with feminist science and technology studies (STS), new materialisms, and posthumanism with the aim of identifying and interrogating ingrained assumptions about what counts as scientific knowledge, how it is produced and by whom, how it is applied, and for what specific purposes. We will pay attention to how western scientific knowledge and practice are shaped by histories and intersections of patriarchy, masculinism, colonialism, racism, ableism, as well as to how power, domination, and mastery operate within the formation of such knowledge. The interdisciplinary body of scholarship that we will read and discuss will help us both rethink western science and technology’s claims to universality, objectivity, and rationality, as well as to imagine other, better ways of relating to the living world.

POL S 298, Winter 2025: "Sustainability and Care of the Earth" 

Description: This course will focus on the relationship between social systems and ecosystems amidst the pervasive environmental destruction and transformation the Earth is facing. While acknowledging the irreversible damage and large-scale modifications caused by hegemonic social systems, our primary focus will be on exploring ways to sustain life and to maintain its diversity. We will therefore dedicate significant attention to learning from alternative ways of relating to the Earth. One of our main goals will be to find direction and purpose in the face of unprecedented climate change, mass extinction, and the disruption of planetary life-support systems. These interconnected challenges foster a prevailing sense of meaninglessness—a sentiment reminiscent of Donna Haraway’s description of our epoch as “disturbing times, mixed-up times, troubling and turbid times.” In light of this, we will think deeply about how to connect and resonate with the multiplicity of beings and ecological systems that inhabit the world, and thereby to advocate and care for marginalized voices and experiences—human and nonhuman. Moreover, we will also interrogate and problematize prevalent understandings of what sustainability is and what it is not. Indeed, the notion of ‘sustainability’ has been co-opted into the language of consumerism, commodification, and business-as-usual economic growth, as reflected in the contentious yet widely embraced idea of ‘sustainable development’. In view of this, we will strive to approach sustainability from transformative perspectives. By doing so, we will aim to deepen our understanding of the ethical foundations and commitments necessary for the harmonious coexistence of human societies and nature.


Announcements

My article titled “Ecologizing democratic theory: agency, representation, animacy” has been awarded the 2023 annual prize for best article in Contemporary Political Theory.

Courses

POL S 298 - Topics in Political Science

A variable content course, which may be repeated if topics vary. Prerequisite: POL S 101 or Department consent.


POL S 302 - Topics in Political Theory

A variable content course, which may be repeated if topics vary. Prerequisite: One of POL S 211, 212 (or 210) or Department consent.


POL S 410 - Topics in Contemporary Political Theory

A critical examination of contemporary trends in political philosophy. A variable content course, which may be repeated if topics vary. Prerequisite: One of POL S 211, 212 (or 210) or Department consent.


POL S 514 - Contemporary Political Theory


Browse more courses taught by Didier Zuniga

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