Critical Theorists, Legal Advocate, Author, Professor of Law and Political Science

Columbia University

Bernard E. Harcourt is a contemporary critical theorist, legal advocate, and the author most recently of Critique & Praxis: A Critical Philosophy of Illusions, Values, and Action (Columbia, 2020) and of The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens (Basic Books, 2018). He is the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at Columbia University, and a directeur d’études (chaired professor) at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Harcourt is the founding director of the Initiative for a Just Society at the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought, which brings contemporary critical theory and practice to bear on current social problems and seeks to address them through practical engagements, including litigation and public policy transformation. Harcourt began his legal career representing individuals on Alabama’s death row, working with Bryan Stevenson at what is now the Equal Justice Initiative, in Montgomery, Alabama. He continues to represent pro bono persons sentenced to death and life imprisonment without parole, as well as detained at Guantanamo Bay. Harcourt has also served on human rights missions to South Africa and Guatemala, and has actively challenged the Trump administration’s Muslim Ban, representing pro bono a Syrian medical resident excluded under the executive order, as well as Moseb Zeiton, a Columbia SIPA student.


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