Dorian Bell

TitleAssociate Professor
DivisionHumanities Division
DepartmentLiterature Department,
Jewish Studies
AffiliationsCritical Race and Ethnic Studies,
Cowell College
Web Site Curriculum vitae homepage
Office HoursOn leave 2018-19
Campus Mail StopHumanities Academic Services
Mail1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA
Dorian Bell

Research Interests

Lately I have been working at the intersection of critical race studies, spatial theory, and cultural history. My first book, Globalizing Race: Antisemitism and Empire in French and European Culture (Northwestern University Press, 2018; downloadable here), explores articulations between antisemitism and imperialism that shaped the emergence of European racial thought. Drawing on an extensive body of antisemitic newspapers, treatises, and novels, I argue that colonial expansion helped modern antisemitism adopt the political, racializing guise that would haunt the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.


Globalizing Race builds on recent ferment around the ideas of racial relationality and comparative racialization, which understand racisms to interact with each other across space and time. Mobilizing the tools of critical geography, the book proposes the concept of racial scalarity: namely, the tendency of racializing logics to change scales in an effort to resolve contradictions internal to the logics themselves. Race, I argue, did not just become globalized when European race thinking drove and accompanied imperial penetration into the farthest reaches of the world, or when modern antisemitism's theory of global Jewish conspiracy helped make race into an apparent planetary principle. Rather, race became most thoroughgoingly global as a tool for constructing and negotiating scale in the era of late imperial capital.


A similarly scalar approach animates my current book-in-progress, Planetary Prejudices: Race, Migration, and Technology in the New Global Order. In it, I examine how contemporary upheavals like migration and populism are transforming racisms at a planetary level. I suggest, for instance, that Islamophobia has joined—and reinforces—antisemitism as a primary cognitive category through which many experience the world economy. I also explore the relationship between individual prejudice and structural racism, a dynamic transformed of late by social media but overlooked by constructivist theories of race that downplay the individual subject.

Biography, Education and Training

  • Member, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science, Princeton, NJ, 2018-19

  • Assistant Professor of French, Department of French and Italian, University of California, Irvine, 2008-2010

  • Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford Humanities Fellows Program, Department of French and Italian, Stanford University, 2007-2008

  • Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory, University of Pennsylvania, 2008

Honors, Awards and Grants

Selected Fellowships:

  • Member, Institute for Advanced Study (School of Social Science), Princeton, NJ, 2018-19

  • Camargo Foundation Fellowship, Cassis, France, 2018-19 (declined)

  • National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Fellowship, 2011-12

  • UC President's Faculty Research Fellowship in the Humanities, 2011-12

  • Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship, Stanford Humanities Fellows Program, Department of French and Italian, Stanford University, 2007-2008

  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies, 2007-2008 (declined)

  • Fulbright US Student Program Grant, Tunisia, 1999-2000

Awards and Distinctions:

  • Globalizing Race book selected for the Modern Language Initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support first books on cultural production in languages other than English, 2017

  • Chosen to participate in the Social Heterogeneity: Civil War workshop, part of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation's Horizons of the Humanities initiative at the University of California Humanities Research Institute, Irvine, CA, 2017 (Social Heterogeneity: Civil War)

  • Larry Schehr Memorial Award for the best junior faculty essay presented at the 2012 Nineteenth-Century French Studies Colloquium (for "Zola, Nietzsche, Marx: Anti-Anti-Semitism and the Politics of Scale")

  • Malcolm Bowie Prize for the best article in French studies published in 2009 by an early-career scholar, awarded by the Society for French Studies (for "The Jew as Model: Anti-Semitism, Aesthetics, and Epistemology in the Goncourt Brothers' Manette Salomon")

Selected Publications

Courses Taught

LIT 182K--Colonial Ghosts: French Literature and Imperialism
LIT 182K--Doubtful Selves: The Novel and 19th Century France
LIT 182K--France and Migration
LIT 101--Postcolonial Theory
LIT 61H--Introduction to Film Analysis: Film Noir
LIT 160G--Jews in Theory
LIT 149D--Technologies of Taste: Consuming Culture in the Internet Age
LIT 200--Stakes of the Global
LIT 280--Race and Space