Jacob Abolafia / Political Theory Workshop
I am a political theorist who writes on the history of political thought and critical theory, broadly construed.
My dissertation (Harvard, 2019) “Penal Modernism before Modernity: Correction and Confinement in the History of Political Thought”, traced the treatment of the prison in political philosophy from Plato’s Athens to Jeremy Bentham’s London, with an eye towards our present carceral dysfunction. In addition to finishing a related manuscript on incarceration and the history of political thought, I am also engaged in research projects on political myths and political economy, as well as contemporary theories of rationality and society.
I have published and taught on the history of political thought from classical antiquity to the present day. My ongoing research interests include social and political philosophy from early modernity through the critical theorists, Jewish and Islamic political thought, classical philosophy, and the intersection of social and political theory.
After receiving my doctorate from Harvard’s Government Department, I was the 2019-2020 Harvard-Tel Aviv Post-doctoral Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Tel Aviv University. And, as of 2020, a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Van Leer Institute’s Polonsky Academy in Jerusalem. I am currently a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Stanford Civics Initiative, based in the Political Science Department at Stanford University.
I hold a BA (Hons.) in Philosophy from Yale University (2010), and completed M.Phils in Political Thought and Intellectual History (2011) and Ancient Philosophy (2012) at Cambridge, where I was a Paul Mellon Fellow at Clare College until 2013.
I live in San Francisco.