Institute for Social Justice

Academic Staff

Dr Magdalena Zolkos

Dr Magdalena Zolkos

Magdalena is a political theorist specializing in the fields of memory politics; historical justice and reconciliation; cultural and psychoanalytic trauma theory; emotions and affect; contemporary democratic theory; and feminist theory. 

She has held the Izaak Killam Postdoctoral position at the Department of Political Science, University of Alberta (Canada); the Irmgard Coninx Research Grant at Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin  Sozialforschung (Berlin); and Marie Curie Research Fellowship at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent at Canterbury (UK).

She is interested in how the legacy of historical trauma affects the trajectories of democratic transition and consolidation, conditions the play of affective politics, and inspires, though at times also constrains, practices of emancipatory politics and resistance. 

She is currently working on two research projects. The first project focuses on  memory objects and mnemonic object-worlds in politics and aesthetics of memorialization. It regards specifically the counter-monumental tradition of traumatic representation, as well as the recent scholarly and artistic attempts to establish non-humans as subjects of collective memory formation. The second project focuses on humanitarian restitution as a response to population displacement and dispossession – the project explores the genealogy of restitution, as well as critiques the contemporary restitutive politics, imaginaries and sentiments, while exploring its alternatives.

T (02) 9739 2727

  • Articles

    (forthcoming): “Hanya Yanagihara’s The People in the Trees and Post-Colonial Trauma Criticism,” Textual Practice.

    2017: “Life as a Political Problem: the Post-Human in Political Theory,”  Political Studies Review (published online). 


    2017: “‘The Return of Things as They Were’: New Humanitarianism, Restitutive Desire and the Politics of Unrectifiable Loss,” Contemporary Political Theory 16.3 : 321-341.

    available online

    2015: (co-written with Gerda Roelvink) ‘Posthumanist Perspectives on Affect: Framing the Field’, Angelaki. Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 20(3): 1-20.

    2015: ‘The ‘Origins’ of European Fascism. Memory of Violence in Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon’, European Legacy, 20(3): 205-223.

    2014: ‘Aporias of Belonging: Jean Améry on “Being a Jew without Judaism” and the Tradition of Conscious Pariah’, Journal of European Studies, 44(4): 362-377.

    2011: (co-written with Gerda Roelvink) ‘Climate Change as Experience of Affect’, Angelaki. Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 16(4): 43-57.

    2011: ‘Violent Affects: Nature and the Feminine in Lars von Trier’s Antichrist‘, Parrhesia. A Journal of Critical Philosophy, 13: 177-189.

    2011: ‘Can there be Costless War? Violent Exposures and (In)Vulnerable Selves in Benjamin Percy’s ‘Refresh, Refresh”, Critical Horizons. A Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory, 12(2): 251-269.

    2010: ‘Apocalyptic Writing, Trauma and Community in Imre Kertesz’s Fateless’, Angelaki. Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 15(3): 87-98.

    2009: ‘Reconciliation – No Pasaran. Trauma, Testimony and Language for Paul Celan’, European Legacy, 14(3): 269-282.

    2007: ‘Jean Amery’s Philosophy of Resentment at the Crossroads of Ethics and Politics’, European Legacy, 12(1): 23-38.

  • Book Chapters

    (forthcoming) “‘Where Counting No Longer Makes Sense’. Loss and Incalculability in Philosophic and Artistic Responses to Historical Injustice,” in Claire Garbett and Sari Wastell, eds., Transitional Justice beyond Blueprints (London: Routledge).

    2016: ‘Justice, the Confessional, and the Violin: Objects and Object-Mediated Relations of Loss in Jaume Cabré’s Confessions’ in Chris Andrews and Matt McGuire, eds., Post Conflict Literature: Human Rights, Peace and Justice (London: Routledge, 2016): 213-226.


    2016: (co-written with Emilian Kavalski) ‘The Recognition of Nature in International Relations’ in Patrick Hayden and Kate Schick, eds., Recognition and Global Politics: Critical Encounters between State and World (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2016): 139-156.

    2015: ‘“Ancestral Guilt”: Childhood as Redemption and the Descendants of Nazis in German Cultural Memory’ in J.Faulkner and M.Zolkos, eds., Critical Childhood Studies and the Practice of Interdisciplinarity: Disciplining the Child (Langham: Lexington Press, 2016): 39-60.

    2015: ‘Destruction and Pathos. Melancholy of Femininity in the Cinema of Lars von Trier’ (in Polish) in Katarzyna Balzewska et al. Women and History. From Invisibility to Agency (Gdansk: Gdansk University Press, 2015, 285pp., ISBN 978-83-7865-269-4): 175-184

    2014: ‘Apocalyptic Theory of Witnessing in Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones’ in Monica Germana & Aris Mousoutzanis, eds., Apocalyptic Discourse in Contemporary Culture. Post-Millennial Perspectives on the End of the World (London: Routledge): 148-161.

    2013: ‘Redressive Politics and the Nexus of Trauma, Transitional Justice and Reconciliation’ in C.Braun, S.Buckley-Zistel, T. Koloma Beck, and F.Mieth, eds., Transitional Justice Theories (London: Routledge): 163-183.

    2013: ‘”Un petit geste.” Silence and Gesturality in Shoah‘ in Meera Atkinson and Michael Richardson, eds., Traumatic Affect (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press): 59-79.

    2011: ‘Frau Mata Hari on Trial. Seduction, Espionage and Gendered Abjection in Reunifying Germany’ in S. Buckley-Zistel and R. Stanley, eds., Gender and Transitional Justice (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 312pp., ISBN 9780230246225): 241-263.

    2011: ‘Arendt on Marginality and Action: Metamorphic Figurations in “The Jew as Pariah”‘ in A.Yeatman, P.Hansen, M.Zolkos and C.Barbour, eds., Action and Appearance: Politics and Ethics of Writing in Hannah Arendt (New York: Continuum, 256pp., ISBN 9781441101730): 197-213.

    2010: “The Weight of the Other: Jean Laplanche and Cultural Trauma Theoryin M. Broderick and A. Traverso, eds., Trauma, Media, Art: New Perspectives (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2010; 299pp., ISBN 9781443822831): 60-78.

    2010: ‘The Subject “At the Gates of the Polis”: Theorizing Transitional Civic Order from the Site of Trauma’ in A.Yeatman and M.Zolkos, eds., State, Security and Subject Formation (New York: Continuum, 2009, 194pp., ISBN 9780826442840): 86-100.

    2008: ‘Forgiveness, Theologies of Justice and Amery’s Resenting Subject’ in J.-J. Defert, T.Tchir and D.Webb, eds., Declensions of the Self: A Bestiary of Modernity (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholar Press, ISBN 1-84718-726-9): 154-169.

  • Monographs

    2010: Reconciling Community and Subjective Life. Trauma Testimony as Political Theorizing in the Work of Jean Amery and Imre Kertesz (New York: Continuum).

  • Edited Volumes

    2015: (co-edited with J.Faulkner) Critical Childhood Studies and the Practice of Interdisciplinarity.Disciplining the Child (Rowman&Littlefield)

    2015: (co-edited with R. Colledge) Special journal issue of Parrhesia. A Journal of Critical Philosophy, 24.

    2015: (co-edited with G. Roelvink) ‘Sentient Subjects: Post-humanist Perspectives on Affect’, special journal issue of Angelaki. Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 20(3).

    2015: (co-edited with G. Roelvink) ‘Affective Ontologies. Post‐human Perspectives on Feeling, Critique and the Self’, special journal issue of Emotions, Space, and Society, 14.

    2011: On Jean Amery: Philosophy of Catastrophe (Langham: Lexington Press).

    2011: (co-edited with A.Yeatman, P.Hansen, C.Barbour) Action and Appearance: Ethics and the Politics of Writing in Hannah Arendt (New York: Continuum).

    2010: (co-edited with A.Yeatman) State, Security and Subject Formation (New York: Continuum).

    2009: (co-edited with S. Berking) Between Life and Death: Governing Populations in an Era of Human Rights(Berlin: Peter Lang).

    Kavalski, E. and Zolkos, M. (2008), Defunct Federalisms: Critical Perspectives on Federal Failure. Routledge.