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Debarati Sanyal

Professor and Head Graduate Adviser in French
Mondays 12-2PM and by appointment, clink on link under BIOGRAPHY

Research Areas

Debarati Sanyal is Professor of French, current Head Graduate Adviser, and affiliated with Critical Theory, The Center for Race and Gender, and European Studies. Her research and teaching interests include critical refugee studies; aesthetics and biopolitics; human rights and humanitarianism; postwar French and Francophone culture; transcultural memory studies; Holocaust studies; critical theory; 19th-century French literature. Debarati's first book, The Violence of Modernity: Baudelaire, Irony and the Politics of Form (Johns Hopkins, 2006), reclaims Baudelaire's aesthetic legacy for ethical inquiry and historical critique, pursuing it in later authors, including Rachilde and Despentes. Her second book, Memory and Complicity: Migrations of Holocaust Memory (Fordham, 2015), addresses the transnational deployment of complicity in the aftermath of the Shoah (from Primo Levi, Albert Camus, Alain Resnais, and Jean-Paul Sartre to Jonathan Littell, Assia Djebar, Boualem Sansal and Giorgio Agamben). She is currently completing a book on migrant resistance, biopolitics and aesthetics in Europe's current refugee "crisis," with the support of a Guggenheim Fellowship (2021-2022). 



Debarati Sanyal grew up in France and received her BA in English and Modern Languages from Oxford. She came to the United States for a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures at Princeton and held a junior faculty position at Yale before joining the Berkeley French Department in 2000. 

OFFICE HOURS SPRING 2021: MONDAYS 12.10-2.10pm and by appointment. SIGN UP HERE.  


Selected Publications


Book manuscript in progress on migrant testimony, aesthetics and resistance in the current European refugee ‘crisis.' 

Memory and Complicity: Migrations of Holocaust Remembrance (Fordham University Press, 2015).

Translated into French as Mémoire et Complicité: au prisme de la Shoah (PUV, 2019) by Camille Perton with a preface by Éric Fassin.

The Violence of Modernity: Baudelaire, Irony and the Politics of Form (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006).

Journal Issues:

Guest Editor and contributor, Time and Politics in Contemporary Critique: Entanglements and Aftermaths (Critical Times: Interventions in Global Critical Theory, 2:3, 2019): (open access).

Special Editor with Michael Rothberg and Max Silverman, Noeuds de mémoireMultidirectional Memory in French and Francophone Culture (Yale French Studies 118/119, 2010).


Recent articles:

"Race, Migration and Security at the Euro-African Border," Theory & Event, vol. 24 no. 1, 2021, p. 324-355. Project MUSE

 “The Gender of Testimony: Ruth Elias and the Challenge to Lanzmann's Paradigm of Witnessing" in The Construction of Testimony: Claude Lanzmann's Shoah and its Outtakes (Wayne State, 2020)

Introduction to Time and Politics in Contemporary Critique: Entanglements and Aftermaths (Critical Times, 2:3, 2019):

“Humanitarian Detention and Figures of Persistence at the Border,” (Critical Times, 2:3, 2019): (open access).

“Calais’s ‘Jungle’: Refugees, Biopolitics, and the Arts of Resistance” (Representations, 139, 2017):

“The City as Heterotopia: Sylvain George’s Paris est une fête “(La Furia Umana no.31, 2017):

“A Tour through Baudelaire’s Fight Clubs,” in Approaches to Teaching Baudelaire’s Prose Poems (MLA Approaches to Teaching World Literature series, 2017)

“Modiano’s Memoryscapes” (Public Books, October 2015):


Recent Blog Posts:

"The Social Contract and the Game of Monopoly: Listening to Kimberly Jones on Black Lives" (6/29/20):

"The Virus and the Plague: Albert Camus on COVID-19" (3/27/20):