People / Faculty


Keith Feldman

Associate Professor and Chair

Comparative Ethnic Studies

Arab and Arab American Studies, Critical Race Theory, Cultural Theory, Cultures of US Imperialism, Diaspora Studies, Transnational American Studies, Visual Culture Studies

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584 Social Sciences Building

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Bio & Research Interests

At its core, my research program takes cultural studies approaches to theorize and narrate the interface between race, culture, knowledge, and state power. My work explores race as a “master category” (following Omi and Winant) and as a “medium” (following WJT Mitchell) by crafting comparative, relational, intersectional, and transnational analyses situated in localized and embodied contexts. By turning to the domain of culture, I investigate how power differentials become sedimented and contested in narrative, subject and identity formations, memory, and knowledge production.

My first book, A Shadow over Palestine: The Imperial Life of Race in America (Minnesota, 2015), explores the changeful complexity of race in its historical particularity, its representational density, and its transnational circulation. It asks, how have Israel and Palestine impacted U.S. racial and imperial formations, how have shifting conceptions of race in the U.S. shaped symbolic and material relationships to Israel and Palestine, and how have different cultural forms been used to surface knowledge in the process? I provide a conjunctural analysis of the post-civil rights United States and Israel’s post-1967 occupation of Palestinian lands. I demonstrate how a range of culture workers linked the U.S. state’s combination of political inclusion and intensified projection of violence at home and abroad to shifting dynamics of rule in Israel and Palestine.

A Shadow over Palestine received the 2017 Best Book in Humanities and Cultural Studies (Literary Studies) from the Association for Asian American Studies; and was a Finalist for the American Studies Association’s 2016 Lora Romero First Book Publication prize.

In my current book-length project, “Patterns of Life: Race, Relation, and the Proximate Archives of Global War,” I explore literary and visual configurations of the body in the long war on terror, attending especially to the ways contemporary U.S. visual culture innovates, consolidates, and contests historical processes of racialization. My point of departure is the rise of what the Obama administration has termed “pattern of life” analysis to legitimate the globalized expression of sovereign violence. I ask, what are the contested histories of these heuristics, how do they produce aestheticizations of enmity and raciality, and what kinds of cultural forms have emerged to surface and trouble their common sense?

I am one of the faculty co-organizers of The Color of New Media, a working group sponsored by the Center for Race and Gender and Berkeley Center for New Media that focuses on intersections of critical race theory, gender and women’s studies, and transnational studies with new media studies. With Prof. Abigail De Kosnik, I have co-edited a collection of essays by the working group entitled #identity: Hashtagging Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Nation (Michigan, 2019), and am currently completing a second collection, tentatively titled “The Media Crease, and Other Essays on Repetition and Social Difference.”

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Courses Taught

Spring 2024

ES 250: Critical Ethnic Studies without Guarantees

Fall 2023

ES 11AC: Introduction to Ethnic Studies


Other Courses Taught

ES 302: Professional Orientation

ES 250 / DECT 240: Race, War, Culture

ES 250: On Edward W. Said

ES 250: Comparativity and the Crisis of Neoliberalism

ES 202: Cultural Texts: Contemporary Theories and Methods

ES 190: Race, War, Culture

ES 190: Translation and the Dialectic(s) of Diaspora

ES 181AC: Big Ideas: Prison

ES 180: Comparative Racialization in the Era of Permanent War

ES 101B: Humanities Methods in Ethnic Studies

ES 24: Reading Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk Today



A shadow over palastine

Select publications


Carceral Entanglement in the Work of Leila Abdelrazaq.Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social Sciences 29.1 (June 2020): 1-14. (Excerpt reprinted in Sajjilu Arab American: A Reader in SWANA Studies, eds. Louise Cainkar, et al. Syracuse University Press, 2022. 402-408).

You (Shall) Have the Body: Patterns of Life in the Shadow of Guantánamo.” The Comparatist 42 (October 2018): 189-203.

Framed in Black.” PMLA 123, no. 1 (2017): 156-163.

We Deportees: Race, Religion, and War on Palestine’s No-Man’s Land,” with Emily Drumsta. Social Text 129 (December 2016): 87-110.

Race/Religion/War: An Introduction,” with Leerom Medovoi. Social Text 129 (December 2016): 1-17.

On Relationalty, On Blackness: A Listening Post.” Comparative Literature 68, no. 2 (2016): 107-115. Introduction to edited ACLA Forum on “Blackness and Relationality.”

Seeing is Believing: U.S. Imperial Culture and the Jerusalem Exhibit of 1904.” Studies in American Jewish Literature 35, no. 1 (2016): 98-118.

The Globality of Whiteness in Post-racial Visual Culture.” Cultural Studies 30, no. 2 (2016): 289-311.

“Zionism and Anti-Zionism: A Necessary Detour, Not a Final Destination.” American Quarterly 67, no. 4 (December 2015): 1067-1073.

Empire’s Verticality: The Af/Pak Frontier, Visual Culture, and Racialization from Above.” Comparative American Studies 9, no. 4 (Winter 2011): 325-341. (Reprinted in Critical Ethnic Studies: An Anthology, eds. Nada Elia, et. al. Durham: Duke UP, 2016. 376-392).

Towards an Afro-Arab Diasporic Culture: The Translational Practice of David Graham Du Bois.” ALIF: Journal of Comparative Poetics 31 (2011): 152-172.

Representing Permanent War: Black Power’s Palestine and the End(s) of Civil Rights.” CR: New Centennial Review 8, no. 2 (Fall 2008): 193-231. (Reprinted in Black Routes to Islam, eds. Manning Marable and Hishaam D. Aidi. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009.)

The (Il)legible Arab Body and the Fantasy of National Democracy.” MELUS 31, no. 4 (Winter 2006): 33-53.


#notabugsplat: Becoming Human on the Terrain of Visual Culture.” Routledge Companion to Literature and Human Rights, eds. Sophia McClennen and Ali Schultheis Moore. London: Routledge, 2016. 224-232.

‘One Like Me’: The Refugee as Relational Figure.” Ethnic Literatures and Transnationalism: Critical Imaginaries for a Global Age, ed. Aparajita Nanda. London: Routledge, 2015. 28-40.

“America’s Last Taboo: Rethinking Orientalism in the Post-Civil Rights Era.” Liberty and Justice: America and the Middle East, ed. Patrick McGreevy. Beirut: American University of Beirut, 2009. 108-121.

“Poetic Geographies: Interracial Insurgency in Arab-American Autobiographical Spaces.” Arab Women’s Lives Retold: Exploring Identity Through Writing, ed. Nawar Al-Hassan Golley. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse UP, 2007. 51-70.


“Anti-Muslim Racism beyond Islamophobia.” American Quarterly 71.4 (December 2019): 1141-1153.

Osamah Khalil, America’s Dream Palace: Middle East Expertise and the Rise of the National Security State. Journal of American Studies 53.2 (May 2019): 577-579.

Smadar Lavie, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel: Mizrahi Single Mothers and Bureaucratic Torture. Tikkun Magazine 34.1 (2019): 127-130.

Zahi Zalloua, Continental Philosophy and the Palestinian Question. Symplokē 26.1-2 (2018): 539-541.

Julie Peteet, Space and Mobility in Palestine. Journal of Palestine Studies 47.2 (Winter 2018): 84-86.

Pamela Pennock, The Rise of the Arab American Left: Activists, Allies, and their Fight against Imperialism and Racism, 1960s-1980s. International Journal of Middle East Studies 50.1 (February 2018): 153-155.

“Double Critique and the Aesthetic Archaeologies of Islam.” Review of Sadia Abbas, At Freedom’s Limit: Islam and the Postcolonial PredicamentContemporary Literature 57.4 (December 2016): 575-582.

Karine V. Walther, Sacred Interests: The United States and the Islamic World, 1821-1921. Journal of American History 103.2 (September 2016): 435-437.

Moustafa Bayoumi, This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on TerrorThe American Historian (May 2016): 42-43.

Gretchen Murphy, Shadowing the White Man’s Burden: U.S. Imperialism and the Problem of the Color Line. Comparative Literature Studies 50.3 (2013): 540-543.

Eric J. Sundquist, Strangers in the Land: Blacks, Jews, and Post-Holocaust America. Intertexts 14.1 (2010): 63-66.

“fuga.” Review of Edward W. Said’s On Late Style. Postmodern Culture 18.3 (2008).

“The Black Panther” comic book series. MELUS  32.3 (Fall 2007): 255-258.


Profile of a Public Scholar.” The Simpson Center for the Humanities. 2 May 2013.

“Affect, Ethics, and the Imaginative Geographies of Permanent War: An Interview with Derek Gregory.” With Anoop Mirpuri and Georgia Roberts. Theory & Event 12.3 (2009).

Antiracism and Environmental Justice in an Age of Neoliberalism: An Interview with Van Jones.” With Anoop Mirpuri and Georgia Roberts. Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography 41.3 (2009): 401-415.


“Curricular Convergences.” Jewish Studies / Ethnic Studies. May 2021.

“Beyond Analogy.” Contending Modernities Blog. 18 November 2020.

“Racism and Refugee in One Hot Summer: The Importance of Comparative Ethnic Studies.” Daily Californian. 22 August 2019.

Flourishing Renewals: On Black-Palestinian Solidarity.” Palestine Square. 3 November 2015.

New Texts Out Now: A Shadow over Palestine: The Imperial Life of Race in America. Jadaliyya. 3 June 2015.

Invitations to the Process: Some Notes on Graduate Mentoring.” The Berkeley Teaching Blog. 30 April 2014.

Fragments from the Breach: On Anti-racism, American Studies, and the Question of Palestine.” Jadaliyya. 13 December 2013

“Freedom’s Futures: Contested Legacies of the Reconstruction Amendments.” UC Berkeley Constitution Day Lecture. 18 September 2013.

A Haunting Echo: WEB Du Bois in a Time of Permanent War.” Al Jazeera English. 10 February 2013.

Reprinted as “The Long Legacy of W. E. B. Du Bois: Remembering the Impact of an Historic Visionary and Civil Rights Leader.” San Quentin News. 2013.2 (2013): 10.

Awards & Honors

2021: Social Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award

2018: UC Critical Refugee Studies Grant

2017: American Cultures Engaged Scholarship Curriculum Continuity Award

2016-17: Presidential Chairs Fellows Curriculum Enrichment Grant, UC Berkeley

2015: Digital Humanities Fellowship, Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Berkeley

2014: Institute for International Studies Manuscript Workshop, UC Berkeley

2013-2014: Co-Convener, “Carceral Geographies” Course Thread, Townsend Center for the Humanities

2012-2013: Co-Convener, “Critical Prison Studies” Strategic Working Group, Townsend Center for the Humanities

2011-2012: Hellman Family Junior Faculty Award, UC Berkeley

2011-2012: Presidential Chair Fellowship, UC Berkeley

2011: Institute for International Studies Junior Faculty Fellowship, UC Berkeley

2010-2011: Presidential Chair Fellowship, UC Berkeley

2010: Faculty Research Grant, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies

2007-2008: John C. Flanagan Dissertation Fellowship, University of Washington

2007: Society of Scholars Research Fellowship, Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities (declined)

2006: Publicly Active Graduate Education Fellowship, Imagining America

2004-2006: Co-Principal Investigator, “Public Rhetorics and Permanent War,” funded by the Walter Chapin Simpson Center

2003: Distinguished Teacher Award, University of Washington Department of English