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Jason Barker - Biography

Jason Barker, Ph.D., born in London in 1971, is a theorist, director, screenwriter and producer. He was educated at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design where he graduated with a degree in media studies in 1995, and at Cardiff University where he studied philosophy under Distinguished Research Professor Christopher Norris, gaining his Ph.D. in 2003. The relation of theory to leftist politics has been Jason's guiding intellectual preoccupation to date, informing the publication, in 2002, of his Alain Badiou: A Critical Introduction (London: Pluto Press), the first book-length study of Badiou's philosophy to appear in any language. In the words of Alain Badiou himself, the book provides the "best account of my work's political trajectory". Jason is also the English translator of Badiou's Metapolitics.

In September 2002, Jason began teaching media theory at Middlesex University, and the following spring presented a paper at the opening of the "Capitalism and Philosophy Laboratory". This series of experimental theory workshops, organised by the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), brought together several Badiou researchers, each of whom would go on to establish a distinct reputation in philosophy: Ray Brassier, Sam Gillespie, Peter Hallward, and Alberto Toscano. Later that spring Jason would rejoin them in the Atelier Badiou, the series of workshops organised by Bruno Besana and Oliver Feltham at Université Paris VIII, and whose proceedings were finally published in L'Harmattan's "La Philosophie en commun" collection in 2007.

In November 2003, Jason took part in the inaugural meeting of ONPhi (l'Organisation Non-philosophique) at the CRMEP, the international non-philosophical research network jointly set up by Ray Brassier, the French philosopher François Laruelle, and the latter's former student Gilles Grelet. The following year Jason became a corresponding member of ONPhi and in 2005 began teaching at Ecole Sainte-Geneviève ("Ginette") in Versailles. While at Ginette, and in collaboration with Gilles Grelet, Jason helped set up GAG (Groupe anti-philosophique de Ginette), a student reading group which brought French literature, philosophy, logic, mathematics and film into creative antagonism.

In 2007 Jason began researching material for an animated feature film on Karl Marx. In 2010 he was awarded a NIPKOW screenwriting fellowship for his Marx Returns screenplay. As writer, director and co-producer he was also the creative force behind the documentary Marx Reloaded, which includes interviews with leading thinkers of the "idea of communism" including Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri, Jacques Rancière, Peter Sloterdijk, and Slavoj Zizek. Commissioned by ZDF and originally broadcast on Arte in April 2011, Marx Reloaded went on to premiere at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London where it screened for a further 10 weeks to sell-out audiences. Described by the philosopher Simon Critchley as "a great introduction to Marx for a new generation" and by German political scientist Herfried Münkler as "the type of film that Marx himself would have approved of", the film has showcased at numerous festivals and universities around the world, including Columbia University, Duke University, The London School of Economics, Goldsmiths College, Belgrade University, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (Lima), Kyung Hee University (Seoul), and Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Jason has taught widely on film, media theory and philosophy. His teaching at the European Graduate School on the cinema of anti-capitalism is inspired by Marxist philosophy, Lacanian psychoanalysis, semiotics and literary theory. A characteristic feature of Jason's work is his resistance to "otherness" or what he perceives as the misreading of Lacan in ethics: "Lacan was careful to distinguish ethics proper, which involved following one’s desire to the 'letter', from the 'service of goods', or the mere pursuit of self-interest." Against this tendency, prevalent in contemporary cultural and literary theory, Jason speculates on the need for "(little) cultural revolution": "Very briefly, this revolution would involve neutralising the discourses of alterity, those discourses responsible for the 'eroticisation' of (Real) desire, and which thrive on the spectacle of the subject’s alienation in language. Its practice would thus consist in what Lardreau and Jambet call the 'tracking down of semblances', i.e. tracking down all the signifiers that chain desire to whatever norms are at work in any given situation, and which ultimately force the multiplicity of desire(s) to pass through the desire of the Other."

Jason has published on themes ranging from the pragmatics of media ethics to post-Marxist debates on militant politics and subjectivity. His most recent published research includes the brilliant "Wherefore Art Thou Philosophy? Badiou without Badiou" in Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy (Vol. 8.1, 2012). This essay aims to defend the philosophical stakes of Badiou’s "intrinsic ontology" while highlighting the methodological difficulties of reconciling the latter with a philosophy of the event. The essay concludes by speculating on the "unbound", "unconditioned" potential of Badiou's "two-headed philosophy".

Jason Barker is currently preparing material for a monograph entitled Rebel Without a Cause.

Jason Barker is a professor at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he conducts an Intensive Summer Seminar.