Sergio Valverde

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Political Science
Room 1414 SocSci
267 19th Ave S

My dissertation In Praise of Partisanship: A Speculative Theorization of Political Reason draws from the theoretical production of Hegel, Marx, Theodor Adorno, and Gillian Rose to contend that the notion of the speculative is optimal to rethink the actuality of partisanship, a phenomenon that has been harshly criticized in the history of political thought, and neglected in the current universe of political theory. This is a paradox given that our regimes are constituted around political parties. Parties have been essential as mediators, as thirds between civil society and the State, as well as the key agents of political change and revolutions in the modern era.

I question and redefine existing views on partisanship arguing that mainstream liberal and critical post-structural theories of politics misrecognize partisan operations and formations resulting in post-political rhetoric and prescriptions. I reason that such misrecognition is not only contingent upon political conjunctures, especially those after 1968 and 1989, but also that liberal and post-structural critiques of partisanship depend on specific ontological presuppositions over identity and difference. Liberalism advances an outlook of absolute identity by educating or coercing the multiplicity and complexity of politics into a universal narrative of global norms and rules. Views on radical difference, that are distinctive of post-structuralism, largely prevent thinking such multiplicity in terms of political representation, parties, and party organization.

In opposition to these two forms of political reason, I argue that the speculative envisions an "identity-in-difference" (Hegel), a "unity of the diverse" (Marx), in which the partisan opponent is the other, the adversary, and at the same time, someone that stands in a common symbolic and political universe. Thus, I engage in a philosophical re-conceptualization of theories of political opposition stemming from the dialectical tradition in order to reconstruct a critical theory of parties and partisanship.

Different from the neo-Kantian and Weberian school, I show there is another forgotten tradition in political theory that began with Hegel and some Hegelian philosophers on the Left and Right in the 19th century (Rosenkranz, Bauer, Gans, Ruge, Marx and Engels, also F.J. Stahl, F. Rohmer, von Treitschke) until the mid-20th century (Gramsci, Lenin, Luxemburg, Lukács, Georg Jellinek, Otto Bauer, Kirchheimer) that saw the political party and partisans, not only as isolated professional organizations or agents dangerous to constituted powers, but also as essential elements to the spiritual, cultural, and political life of a modern nation. I call it a critical tradition of political parties and partisans, which accounted for both the objective integration of partisanship into the electoral system (partisanship in sensu stricto), and for partisanship's oppositional dimensions in the broader political, economic, and social arenas. This tradition has a dialectical conception between theory and practice, organization and tactics, party and class that rejects perspectives that see parties as autonomous entities.

Speculative critique constitutes my research program and future projects will extend this mode of theorization to the areas of political economy, political theology, philosophy of law, and political morality.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D Candidate:: Political Theory, University of Minnesota, (summer 2014).
  • M.A.: Political Science, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 2011.
  • Licentiate, Thesis "Allegory as Hermeneutics of Modernity in the work of Walter Benjamin": Philosophy, Universidad de Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica, 1999.
  • B.A.: Philosophy - Minor: Economics, Universidad de Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica, 1997.


  • History of philosophy and political thought
  • German Idealism: Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel
  • Classical and Western Marxism
  • The Frankfurt School
  • Marxist political economy
  • Latin American and Spanish politics and thought
  • Party theory and political parties
  • United States - Latin America Relations / Inter-American Relations
Courses Taught
  • Latin American Politics (UW-River Falls Spring 2015)
  • Renaissance to Marx (UW-River Falls Spring 2015)
  • Ancient and Medieval Thought (UW-River Falls Fall 2014)
  • Introduction to Political Philosophy and Ideologies (UW-River Falls Fall 2014)
  • Politics of Latin America (UW-Eau Claire Spring 2014)
  • Political Ideas and Ideologies: Democracy, Power, and Political Form (Fall 2012 - University of Minnesota)
  • Political Ideas and Ideologies: History of Western Political Thought (Spring 2012 - University of Minnesota)
  • Political Ideas and Government (Extension - University of Minnesota)
  • Instructor of Philosophy, (June 1999/ December 2002 - Universidad de Costa Rica)
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • Co-convener: Minnesota Political Theory Colloquium: 2011 - 2012
  • Member: American Political Science Association


  • "In Praise of Partisanship: A Speculative Theorization of Political Reason": Dissertation
  • "Partisanship and Political Reason: Philosophies of Identity and Difference in Practice": Working paper ready for submission
  • "The Speculative Experience: Hegelianism, revisited": Working paper ready for submission
  • "'Darker Speech': Sedition as a Normative Problem": Working paper ready for submission
  • "Derechos Individuales o Agravios del Demos: Rawls y Rancière en Contrapunto" : Working paper to resubmit
  • "Crashing the Party: A Critical Theory of Political Opposition": Working paper
  • "Crushing the Party: The Antinomian Imagination": Working paper
  • "Marx's Polar Unities and the Speculative Nature of Capital": Working paper
  • "¿Es posible el concepto de partidismo en la actual teoría política liberal?": Working paper
  • "Utopia and Realism: Walter Benjamin as a political thinker": Working paper
  • "Democracia y Superpotencia: La teoría política de Sheldon Wolin en contexto": Working paper
  • "Walter Benjamin: La alegoría como estética de la revolución": Book project
  • "Fredric Jameson's anti-speculative Hegelianism", Theory and Event , 17.1 Download
  • "La Estética como Filosofí­a Especulativa: Mimesis, forma y estructura del arte moderno en la Teorí­a Estética de Theodor W. Adorno" [Aesthetics as Speculative Philosophy: Mimesis, Form and Structure of Modern Art in Theodor Adorno's Aesthetic Theory], Revista Portuguesa de Filosofi­a , Universidade Catolica Portuguesa, Braga, Portugal, vol.67, fasc.3 (2011). p. 593-618 Download
  • "Historia Intensiva y Neomaterialismo" [Intensive History and New Materialism], Revista de Historia de la Universidad de Costa Rica , 2004, vol.9, n.25, 20pp.
  • "Paul Ricoeur: Hermenéutica y simbolismo" [The symbolic hermeneutics of Paul Ricoeur], Revista de Filosofía de la Universidad de Costa Rica, 2003, vol. 41, n.104, pp. 51-59 Download
  • "Estética y Teologí­a Negativa en Theodor Adorno y Ludwig Wittgenstein," [Aesthetics and Negative Theology in Theodor Adorno and Ludwig Wittgenstein] in Andoni Alonso Puelles and Carmen Galán Rodrí­guez (ed), Wittgenstein, 50 años después, Editora Regional de Extremadura, Mérida, Spain, 2002, pp. 211-218
  • "Poesía y filosofía: La lectura social de Baudelaire en Walter Benjamin," [Poetry and Philosophy: The social reading of Baudelaire's Flowers of Evil by Walter Benjamin], Revista de Filología y Linguística de la Universidad de Costa Rica , 2002, vol. 28, no1, pp. 69-79 Download
  • "Estética y Teología Negativa en Theodor Adorno y Ludwig Wittgenstein" [Aesthetics and Negative Theology in Theodor Adorno and Ludwig Wittgenstein], Revista Káñina de la Universidad de Costa Rica, 2002, vol.26, n.1, pp.119-128
  • "Sobre el concepto de sacrificio en la historia de las religiones: Adorno, Bataille, Eliade" [On the concept of sacrifice in the history of religions: Adorno, Bataille, Eliade], Revista Estudios de la Universidad de Costa Rica , n.16., 2002, pp. 83-98
  • "La Historicidad del Surrealismo: Una lectura sociocrítica del Paysan de Paris de Louis Aragon" [The historical character of Surrealism: A sociocritical reading of Louis Aragon's Paysan de Paris], Revista de Humanidades de la Universidad de Costa Rica , 2001, 3:18, 15-27.
  • "Guerra absoluta: el carácter de las guerras posmodernas" [Absolute War: the character of postmodern warfare], Revista de Historia de la Universidad de Costa Rica, 2000, vol. 3, n.5., 18pp.
  • Marbury Efimenco Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Fall 2013 - Spring 2014
  • Graduate School Fellowship, Summer 2012
  • The Charles H. Christensen Graduate Fellowship, University of Minnesota, 2011
  • Departmental Nominee for the Graduate School's William Stout and Thomas Wallace Fellowship, University of Minnesota, 2010
  • Andrew Dickinson Memorial Fellowship, Department of Political Science, University of Minnesota, September 2008 - June 2009
  • Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) Doctoral Research Grant. Department of Philosophy, Christian-Albrechts-Universitaet zu Kiel, Germany, 2002 (declined)