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Michael Shapiro - Biography

Michael J. Shapiro, Ph.D, was born on February 16, 1940. Shapiro is a political philosopher and critical theorist. Professor He earned his Ph.D. from Northwestern University, graduating in 1966. Between 1968 and 1970, he taught at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition, he lectured at the University of Massachusetts both in 1979 and in 1986, NYU in 2002 at Tisch School of the Arts, in Norway at the University of Norway from 1972 to 1973. Shapiro has also taught internationally for many universities. In Italy, Shapiro taught at Ld the Italian International Institute in Florence. Michael J. Shapiro’s academic interests include political theory and philosophy as a tool to investigate international relations, media, culture, aesthetics, and indigenous politics.

Professor Shapiro has worked at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, Honolulu, in the Political Science Department where in recent years he has taught a wide variety of courses. These courses have included offerings such as Indigenous Politics and Genre and Nationhood which both focus on identity politics. Shapiro’s Scope and Methods of Political Science and American Political Thought are more theory-oriented courses. While Visual Culture and the Public Sphere, War and Cinema, The Politics of Public Art, Politics of Aesthetics, focus on the politics of the visual.

Michael J. Shapiro’s work has been called ‘post-disciplinary’ because he draws from not just inter- or multi-disciplinary research fields but from such various traditions as international relations, cultural studies, political philosophy, critical theory, psychoanalysis, gender studies, and aesthetics.

Michael J. Shapiro started his career researching the interrelated and interdisciplinary fields of decision-making and political psychology. He focused his early research on how this could be manifested in both US electoral politics and US foreign policy, as well as in Norway’s oil production choices. In the 1980s, however, his work began to move away from its early psychological influences and started to focus more strictly on politics and theoretical concerns. Even in its earliest incarnations, Shapiro’s body of work has been instilled with an international dimension. Influential to Michael J. Shapiro’s work are philosophers such as Michel Foucault. From Michel Foucault he was inspired to draw on concepts from continental philosophy and cultural studies. Those included “governmentality," “bio-power" (Foucault) and “the movement-image and the time-image" (Gilles Deleuze). More concretely, Michael J. Schapiro draws on Michel Foucault’s theories on power. Additionally, Dr. Shapiro work on cinema was influenced Gilles Deleuze. He used Deleuze's ideas to question the relationship between film, war, subjectivity and politics.

In Cinematic Geopolitics, Shapiro argues that in recent times movies have played a major role in shaping the publics’ political imagination. The cinema has indeed caused a re-thinking of the ever-changing geo-political world. In a very real sense, then, it is possible to talk of a “geopolitical aesthetic" where certain critical films and documentaries can work as authentic counter-spaces to the hegemonic and often simplistic picture typically drawn by governments who are invariably influenced by their self-interests, and those who report them as well. A contemporary and archetype manifestation of the distorted stories that are told would be the US so-called “war on terror." It is in this light that Professor Schapiro considers in his analysis old and recent documentaries such as Fog of War. In this book Dr. Shapiro draws his inspiration from combining Deleuze’s cinema-philosophy and Ranciere’s politics of aesthetics.

It is around the same time in his career that he co-edited two books series directly related to his own academic research. The first book, Borderlines, was published by the University of Minnesota Press and the second one Taking on the Political was published by the University of Edinburgh Press. Borderlines centered around comparative politics while Taking on the Political focused on political thought.

Michael J. Shapiro is the author of over ten books. His catalog includes Violent Cartographies (1997), Cinematic Political Thought (1999), Moral Spaces (co-ed., 1999), For Moral Ambiguity (2001), Reading ‘Adam Smith’ (2002), The Politics of Moralizing (co-ed. 2002), Methods and Nations (2004), Sovereign Lives (co-ed., 2005), Deforming American Political Thought (2006) and Cinematic Geopolitics (2008).

In 2010, Shapiro published The Time of the City. This work is not surprisingly a post-disciplinary work that focuses on genre-city relationships. It explores the ways in which these complex relationship frame urban life micro-politics. Through the investigation of a great variety of urban formations, and sketching a geo-philosophy for urban space, Michael Shapiro’s way of theorizing urban life gives useful insights into identity, subjectivity, ethnicity, security, and even sovereignty.

Michael J. Shapiro has also written over 40 articles. The ones from the past ten years include: “Managing Urban Security: City Walls and Urban Metis" in Security Dialogue (2009), “Film Form and Pedagogy: Beyond Perception" in Educational Perspectives (2009), “Slow Looking: The Ethics and Politics of Aesthetics: Jill Bennett, Empathic Vision: Affect, Trauma, and Contemporary Art" in Millennium - Journal of International Studies (2008), “Mark Reinhardt, Holly Edwards, and Erina Duganne, Beautiful Suffering: Photography and the Traffic in Pain" in Millennium - Journal of International Studies (2008), Gillo Pontecorvo, director, The Battle of Algiers" in Millennium - Journal of International Studies (2008), “After Kant: Re-thinking Hermeneutics and Aesthetics" in The Good Society (2006). “The Sublime Today: Re-partitioning the Global Sensible" in Millennium: Journal of International Studies (2006), “Every Move You Make: Bodies, Surveillance, and Media" in Social Text (2005), “Constructing ‘America’: Architectural Thought-Worlds" in Theory & Event (2004), “Perpetual War" in Body & Society (2003), “Partion Blues" in Alternatives (2002), “Bourdieu, the State and Method" in Review of International Political Economy (November 2002), “NATIONALISM – Sounds of Nationhood" in Millennium - Journal of International Studies (2001), “Wanted Dead or Alive" in Theory & Event (2001), “Blues & Politics" in Theory & Event (2000), “Commentary on Peter Taylor’s essay" in Political Geography (2000), “Globalization and the Politics of Discourse" in Social Text (1999).

Michael J. Shapiro is the editor of the Taking on the Political book series. From 2004 to 2009, he edited the journal Theory and Event. He has also edited the comparative politics and international studies book series entitled Borderlines. Shapiro's post-disciplinary thought is going to be the subject of a retrospective: a publication of his most important essays as part of the Routledge book series entitled Innovators in Political Theory.



Michael Shapiro was a professor of philosophy at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland, where he taught an Intensive Summer Workshop.