Ken Kawashima

Associate Professor, Department of East Asian Studies
Collaborative Master's Specialization in Contemporary East and Southeast Asian Studies,
Asian Institute




Room 14127, 130 St. George Street


Ken Kawashima is Associate Professor in the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Toronto. To date, his work has focused on how to advance Marxist critiques of political economy after the critique of “essentialism”. Refusing to accept contemporary interpretations of Marx’s own discourse as “determinist”, Kawashima has focused on the antinomies of the logic of capital in the work of Marx to pursue a deceptively simple question: What does it mean to say, “The commodification of labor power?” He has answered this question by elaborating upon Marx’s concept of “surplus populations” and exchange, which has led him to examine the relationship between contingency and repetition in the process of commodification. But more historically, his research never ignores the many ways in which imperialism and colonialism pervert the antinomies of the logic of capital through discourses (among others) of national culture, race and multi-ethnic pluralism. His book, The Proletarian Gamble: Korean workers in interwar Japan (Duke UP, 2009) fleshes out these questions and concepts while also mining the Japanese colonial and metropolitan archives of the 1920s and 1930s. His current research involves the first English translation of Uno Kozo’s Theory of Crisis; studies of biopolitics, commodification, and the “commons”; and, finally, practices of poesis and becoming in music and art.

Newsletter Signup Sign up for the Munk School Newsletter

× Strict NO SPAM policy. We value your privacy, and will never share your contact info.