I am very excited to have joined the Drexel community after having taught political theory at U.C. Berkeley, San Quentin State Prison, and the Venezuelan School of Planning in Caracas. Everywhere that I have lived, from Caracas to Oakland, has impacted my approach to teaching, research, and how I understand the world more generally, and I expect Drexel and Philadelphia to do the same.
My research and teaching center on what could be called the “decolonial turn” in political thought, the moment of epistemic and political interrogation that emerges in response to colonialism and global social inequality. My first book, We Created Chávez, is a theoretically rich “people’s history” of contemporary Venezuela which locates the origins of current political dynamics in the long-term history of Venezuelan social movements, demonstrating that Hugo Chávez was not the cause, but rather the result, of a broader and more fundamental transformative process.
My second book project, Decolonizing Dialectics, seeks to contribute in a theoretical register to what my first book analyzes practically. In it, I plumb the history of political thought for a radicalized understanding of the relationship between conflict and group identity (in the work of Georges Sorel), further charting the decolonization of this very conception and its projection onto a global framework (in the work of Frantz Fanon and Enrique Dussel).
I teach a range of courses from the history of political thought to what is called “comparative political theory,” which poses a direct conversation and even conflict between standard, canonical, and largely European texts and those texts emerging from colonized spaces as direct critique of both traditional views and even the very existence of the canon itself. Further, in an innovative course entitled “Political Theory from Below,” I bring together Latin American political theory and political theory of the African Diaspora (including within the United States) with the practical activity of organic intellectuals and social movements. This approach is one that encourages students to leave behind the realm of pure theory and enter instead into rich conversation with the empirical and everyday world.
This dedication to real-world politics means that I frequently contribute journalistic writing to such publications as Counterpunch, MRZine, and Venezuela Analysis, ZNet, and Alternet among others, and I have written op-eds for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Fox News Latino. I appear regularly in media outlets ranging from community radio to NPR, from Al-Jazeera, CNN, Time Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, and Fox News. My dedication to taking non-Western theory seriously leads me to take seriously my task as a translator, and I have translated dozens of texts by Enrique Dussel and others.