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Robert Bernasconi

by SKeira Aug 21, 2018
Robert Bernasconi

Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy and African American Studies

Department of Philosophy

College of the Liberal Arts

240 Sparks Building
University Park, PA 16802

Office Phone: (814) 865-6398


  1. B.A., Philosophy, School of English and American Studies, Sussex University, 1972. First Class honors.
  2. D. Phil., Sussex University, 1982


Robert Bernasconi is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Philosophy and African American Studies at Penn State. He is the editor or co-editor of a number of collections in critical philosophy of race including Race, Miscegenation and Hybridity (Thoemmes, 2005), Race and Racism in Continental Philosophy (Indiana, 2003), Race (Blackwell, 2001), and The Idea of Race (Hackett, 2000). His books include Nature, Culture, Race (S.dert.rn University, 2010) and How to Read Sartre (Norton, 2007). He has also published numerous articles in critical philosophy of race and on Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, Levinas, and Fanon, among others.

Areas of Specialization

  • Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Continental Philosophy
  • Critical Philosophy of Race
  • Social and Political Philosophy
  • Modern Philosophy
  • History of Ethics

Recent Courses

  • Medieval Ethics
  • Hegel's Philosophy of Religion
  • Sartre and Fanon
  • Levinas
  • Modern Political Philosophy and Slavery

Recent Publications

  • How to Read Sartre, New York, Norton, 2007.
  • “Must We Avoid Speaking of Religion: The Truths of Religions,” Research in Phenomenology, vol. 39, no. 2, 2009, pp. 204-223.
  • “The Philosophy of Race in the Nineteenth Century” Routledge Companion to Nineteenth Century Philosophy, ed. Dean Moyar, London: Routledge, 2010, pp. 498-521.
  • “The Policing of Race Mixing: The Place of Biopower within the History of Racisms,” Journal of Bioethical Inquiry7, 2010, pp. 205-216.
  • “Globalization and World Hunger:  Kant and Levinas” in Radical Levinas, eds. Matthew Calarco and Peter Atterton, Albany, SUNY Press, 2010, pp. 69-84.
  • “Kant’s Third Thoughts on Race” in Reading Kant’s Geography, eds. Stuart Elden and Eduardo Mendieta, Albany: SUNY Press, 2011, pp. 291-318.
  • “‘The Ruling Categories of the World: The Trinity in Hegel’s Philosophy of History and the Rise and Fall of Peoples,” in Blackwell Companion to Hegel, eds. S. Houlgate and M. Bauer, Oxford: Blackwell, 2011, pp. 315-331.
  • “Critical Philosophy of Race” in Routledge Companion to Phenomenology, eds. Sebastian Luft and Søren Overgaard, New York: Routledge, 2011, pp. 551-562.
  • “Perpetual Peace and the Invention of Total War” in Philosophy and the Return of Violence: This Widening Gyre, eds. Christopher S. Yates and Nathan Eckstrand, New York: Continuum International, 2011, pp. 44-60.
  • “The Great White Error and the Great Black Mirage” in Frantz Fanon: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, ed. Nigel Gibson, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, pp. 85-92.
  • “Proto-Racism: Carolina in Locke’s Mind” in Racism and Modernity, eds. Iris Wigger and Sabine Ritter, Berlin: LIT, 2011, pp. 68-82.
  • “The Impossible Logic of Assimilation,” Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy, 19, 2, 2011, pp. 37-49.
  • “Levinas’s Ethical Critique of Levinasian Ethics” in. Totality and Infinity at 50, eds. Scott Davidson and Diane Perpich, Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2012, pp. 253-269 and 295-297.
  • “Racism is a System: How Existentialism Became Dialectical in Fanon and Sartre,” in Cambridge Companion to Existentialism, ed. S. Crowell, Cambridge" Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp. 342-360.
  • "Crossed Lines in the Racialization Process; Race as a Border Concept"Research in Phenomenology, 42, 2012, pp. 206-228.
  • Edited with Jonathan Judaken, Situating Existentialism, New York, Columbia University Press, 2012.
  • “Travelling Light: The Conditions of Unconditional Forgiveness in Levinas and Jankelevitch” in ed. Alan Udoff, Vladimir Jankélévitch and the Question of Forgiveness, Lexington Books, 2013, pp. 85-96.
  • “Poets as Prophets and as Painters” in Heidegger and Language, ed. Jeffrey Powell, Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2013, pp. 146-162.
  •  “Where is Xenophobia in the Fight Against Racism?”Critical Philosophy of Race, vol. 2, no. 1, 2014, pp. 5-19.

Current Projects

"I try to write an essay in each of my areas of specialization every year so as to maintain my expertise. My long term project is to write a philosophical history of the concept of race. In the midterm I intend to write a short monograph on the failure of most seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophers to engage with the evils of the slave trade."