The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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timothy pachirat

Professional Title: 

associate professor of political science


thompson hall



ph.d. yale


author of every twelve seconds; among wolves; "the tyranny of light;" "dispatches from the kill floor;"  "the ethnographer's potion;" "sanctuary;" "we call it a grain of sand;" + others. teacher of intro to comparative; distance, deceit, denial; political ethnography; + others.  service to iqmr; imm; politics and animals; critical political studies; umass graduate certificate in ethnographic research; umass ethnography collective; + others. keynotes/public lectures at yale law, harvard law, nyu, cuny, u washington, u hawai'i, oberlin, colorado college, u hamburg, u oslo, vrije u, u sydney, u melbourne, u victoria, u vienna, wageningen u + others.  member, ias / sss [20/21].  note on working with graduate students

i’ve found the most fertile paths of my journeying to be those which bring large, politically important questions into conversation with the complexity of day-in, day-out lived experiences—what anthropologist anna tsing gorgeously calls a rush of stories—whether generated through participant-observation fieldwork, interviews, or attention to texts, art, architecture, and other artifacts.  i sometimes begin with large questions (how is mass violence made acceptable in modernity?) and ask after particular contexts in which they might provocatively be reshaped and explored (a slaughterhouse kill floor).  sometimes, i start with ordinary minutiae (the ubiquity of glass as a contemporary architectural material) in order to assay the power relations that radiate from and through them (how might literal and metaphorical transparency be deployed as a means of occlusion?). zigzagging from large to small, small to large, i invite each to inform, and transform, the other.

all a plain way of saying that i believe in the power of an ethnographic sensibility to generate critical reappraisals and problematizing redescriptions of politics and power. while the discipline of political science is my formal institutional home, i subscribe to an expansive definition of politics as the study of how power is understood, exercised, and contested across time and space (and acknowledge the words in that definition as concepts themselves in need of query).  my work listens for, wants conversation with, the unruly weeds that push through the cracks between political science, sociology, anthropology, history, geography, law, philosophy, literature, and poetry. 


  • Political Science