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David Palumbo-Liu

Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor and Professor, by courtesy, of English
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley, Comparative Literature (Chinese, French, English) (1988)
M.A., University of California, Berkeley, Comparative Literature (Chinese, French, English) (1988)
B.A., University of California, Berkeley, Comparative Literature (Chinese, French, English) (1988)
David Palumbo-Liu
Comparative Literature
I am the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor at Stanford University, and Professor of Comparative Literature and, by courtesy, English.

My fields of interest include human rights, environmental justice, race, ethnicity, social and cultural criticism, literary theory and criticism. I have published in each of these areas, including seven books and numerous articles that have been translated into Chinese, German, French and Portuguese. My most recent book is Speaking Out of Place: Regaining our Political Voice (Haymarket Books, 2021).

Reviews include:
"Months after the most historic protests in our lifetimes, we continue to confront the same stubborn inequities, crises and catastrophes. This stubborn continuity compels us to reevaluate our common assumptions about the nature of the problem. It compels us to renew our political commitments to change but not necessarily in the same ways that we have before. Most of all, the ongoing suffering and despair in our societies compel us to think anew and creatively for effective, sometimes new and sometimes drawing on the historical ways that ordinary people have confronted the powerful. It compels us to be radical by grabbing hold at the root of our problem—a neoliberal, capitalist world order built on human suffering and abject inequality.

David Palumbo-Liu’s Speaking Out of Place is a deeply moral and utterly human meditation on the nature of our despair but the means by which it can be transformed. Most of all, he argues that what is missing is our sense of place, belonging and mutuality that, when intact, showcases our connection and potential for solidarity in our shared struggle for a humane and just world. Is the exact book we need for the troubled historical moment through which we are living." —Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation

I am the founding editor of the e-journal Occasion: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities.

While pursuing a PhD in comparative literature (field of emphasis: classical Chinese poetry) at Berkeley, I began working in Asian American studies as well, teaching courses on Asian American history and literature. Upon completion of the PhD, I accepted a joint appointment as assistant professor in Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and Department of English, where I taught courses on Chinese literature and American ethnic literature, literary criticism and theory, and comparative literature.

In 1990, I joined the Department of Comparative Literature at Stanford. Part of my duties was to help establish Asian American Studies. I was a founding faculty member of Stanford’s Program in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CSRE), which was established in 1997. From 1999 to 2005 I served as director of the Program in Modern Thought and Literature. During that period I helped initiate and organize major conferences on Rational Choice Theory and the Humanities and World-Systems Analysis, among other events. Speakers included Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Jon Elster, Kenneth Arrow, Regenia Gagnier, John Dupre, Bruce Robbins, Linda Hutcheon, Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Anna Tsing, Michael Watts, Michael Hardt, and many others.

In 1998 I spent the fall term teaching courses on immigration, decolonization, and exoticism at the Stanford Program in Paris. In autumn 2011 I taught at the Oxford campus and gave a series of talks at Wadham and Brasenose colleges, and at the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford.

I am a past president of the American Comparative Literature Association, former member of the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association, and a former chair of the Stanford Faculty Senate.

I write online for The Nation, Truthout, Jacobin, Al Jazeera.