CANCELLED: Achille Mbembe in conversation with Joshua Comaroff and John May

Headshot of Achille Mbembe, who wears a red shirt and glasses.

(c) DW/Stefan Mohl

The GSD’s Spring 2021 Public Programs are all virtual and require registration.

The Harvard GSD public lecture with Achille Mbembe has been postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. We hope to reschedule this lecture to Fall 2021. Please stay tuned for information about our upcoming events.

Scroll down to find complete registration instructions and additional information about accessing the GSD’s programs.


Professor Achille Mbembe, born in Cameroon, obtained his Ph.D in History at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1989 and a D.E.A. in Political Science at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Paris). He was Assistant Professor of History at Columbia University, New York (1988-1991), a Senior Research Fellow at the Brookings Institute in Washington, D.C. (1991-1992), Associate Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania (1992-1996), Executive Secretary of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) in Dakar, Senegal (1996-2000). He was also a Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (2001), at  Yale University (2003), at the University of California at Irvine (2004-2005), at Duke University (2006-2011) and at Harvard University (2012). 

He is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Paris VIII (France) and Universite Catholique de Louvain (Belgium). He has also held the Albert the Great Chair at the University of Koln (2019) and was an Honorary Professor at the Jakob Fugger-Zentrum, University of Augsburg (Germany). He has been awarded numerous awards including the 2015 Geswichter Scholl-Preis, the 2018 Gerda Henkel Award and the 2018 Ernst Bloch Award.

A co-founder of Les Ateliers de la pensee de Dakar and a  major figure in the emergence of a new wave of French critical theory, he has written extensively on contemporary politics and philosophy, including On the Postcolony (University of California Press, 2001), Critique of Black Reason (Duke University Press, 2016), Necropolitics (Duke University Press, 2019) and Out of the Dark Night. Essays on Decolonization (Columbia University Press, 2020).  Originally written in French, his books and numerous articles are translated in thirteen languages (English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Slovenian, Danish, Swedish, Romanian, Arabic, Chinese). He has an A1 rating from the South African National Research Foundation and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Joshua Comaroff, MArch ’01, MLA ’01, is Assistant Professor in Social Sciences at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. Comaroff studied literature and creative writing at Amherst College before joining the Master of Architecture and Master of Landscape Architecture programs at Harvard University Graduate School of Design, where he worked as part of Rem Koolhaas’ Harvard Project on the City. In 2009, Comaroff completed a PhD in cultural geography at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), writing on the subject of haunted landscapes and urban memory in Singapore. He has published writing about architecture, urbanism, and politics, with an Asian focus. His articles have been published in Public Culture, Cultural Geographies, Journal of Architectural Education, Journal of Southeast Asian StudiesCITY, and elsewhere. He is also a regular contributor to the Harvard Design Magazine.

Together with his partner, Ms Ong Ker-Shing, Comaroff oversees Lekker Architects, a multidisciplinary design practice in Singapore. Comaroff works across a broad creative spectrum, with a special emphasis on design for the arts, for children, and for seniors. He is the recipient of Singapore’s President’s Design Award, and Harvard’s Wheelwright Travelling Fellowship. Together with Ms Ong, he is the author of Horror in Architecture.


John May, MARch ’02, RAE ’10, is founding partner, with Zeina Koreitem, in MILLIØNS, an award-winning, Los Angeles-based design practice, and assistant professor of architecture at the Harvard Graduate school of design, where he served as director of the Master in Design Studies program from 2015-2020. Recently selected as the winner of an international competition to reimagine the east wing of I.M. Pei’s Everson Musum, in Syracuse, NY, MILLIØNS’ work includes completed and ongoing projects in California, New York, Germany, and in the 2020 Taipei Biennial. May is the author of Signal. Image. Architecture. (Columbia, 2019) and co-editor, with Zeynep Çelik Alexander, of Design Technics: Archaeologies of Architectural Practice (Minnesota, 2020). May previously taught at MIT, UCLA, SCI-Arc, the University of Toronto, and served as D. Kenneth Sargent Visiting Professor at Syracuse University, and National Endowment for the Humanities Visiting Professor in Architecture at Rice University.

Anyone requiring accessibility accommodations should contact the Public Programs Office at (617) 496-2414 or [email protected].