University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Timothy Pachirat

Professional Title: 

Professor of Political Science

Office: 

Thompson Hall

Email: 

Office Hours: 

Please email me for an appointment.

Degree: 

Ph.D., Yale University; B.A., Wheaton College (IL)

Bio: 

I write about how violence becomes normal in societies that pride themselves on being civilized.  For my book every twelve seconds, I worked for nearly six months in an industrialized cattle slaughterhouse in Nebraska and used that experience to think about power and violence in modernity.  In 2020, every twelve seconds was selected "best scholarly book of the decade" in the Chronicle of Higher Educationand it has inspired engagements with writers, artists, activists, and thinkers across disciplines, including in the American Political Science Review in 2022 and 2024.  

I also write about power and research practices.  I'm especially interested in ethnography.  I like its emphasis on immersion.  I like the questions it raises about our ways of making knowledge about the world.  I explore these likes in among wolves, a play featuring a one-eyed wolfdog who can see the future, and in essays such as, "ethnography: fifth-stanza method," "the tyranny of light;" "dispatches from the kill floor;"  "the ethnographer's potion;" and "we call it a grain of sand."   In 2019, among wolves was awarded an Honorable Mention for the Charles Taylor Book Award from the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods Conference Group of the American Political Science Association.   

At UMass, I enjoy teaching, in a non-boring way, a large undergraduate General Education course boringly titled, "Introduction to Comparative Politics" (POLISCI 111).  I lead graduate seminars on ethnography, research methodology, and other topics.  I value students who ask big questions and are willing to take intellectual and political risks to answer them.  I've been honored to chair dissertations, many award-winning, on topics like the Red Shirt Movement in Thailand; how sound functions as a modality of political power in Palestine, Israel, Algeria, France, and Morocco; experiences of displacement and identity formation among Syrian asylum-seekers in the United States; the politics of water infrastructure in Mumbai; and a bicycle-powered, trash-collecting worker's cooperative in Northampton, Massachusetts.  

I've held fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Study (2020-1) and at an Advanced Seminar at the School of Advanced Research (2024).  These and other experiences continue to nurture several ongoing writing projects, including on the tricky relationships between violence and transparency and the political history of glass as an architectural material.

I try, every day, to be a better writer.  I often fail. 

Area of Study: 

  • Comparative politics
  • Political theory

Program: 

  • Political Science