Kawashima, Ken

Ken Kawashima (Ph.D., NYU)
Associate Professor
Department of East Asian Studies
Office Location: Robarts Library 14297C (14th Floor)
E-mail: ken[dot]kawashima[at]utoronto[dot]ca

To date, my work has focused on how to advance Marxist critiques of political economy after the critique of “essentialism”. Refusing to accept contemporary interpretations of Marx’s own discourse as “determinist”, I have focused on the antinomies of the logic of capital in the work of Marx to pursue a deceptively simple question: What does it mean to say, “The commodification of labor power?” I’ve answered this question by elaborating upon Marx’s concept of “surplus populations” and exchange, which has led me to examine the relationship between contingency and repetition in the process of commodification. But more historically, my research never ignores the many ways in which imperialism and colonialism pervert the antinomies of the logic of capital through discourses (among others) of national culture, race and multi-ethnic pluralism. My book, The Proletarian Gamble: Korean workers in interwar Japan (Duke UP 2009) fleshes out these questions and concepts while also mining the Japanese colonial and metropolitan archives of the 1920s and 1930s. My current research involves the first English translation of Uno Kozo’s Theory of Crisis; studies of biopolitics, commodification, and the “commons”; and, finally, practices of poesis and becoming in music and art.

Academic Background:

  • B.A.(Honours) and M.A. in History, University of Chicago;
  • Ph.D. in History, New York University.