Robert Watkins - Columbia College Chicago

Robert Watkins

Associate Professor


Robert E. Watkins, PhD is Associate Professor of Political Science and Cultural Studies at Columbia College Chicago. He received his PhD and MA degrees in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania and his BA in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University. He is author of Freedom and Vegeance on Screen: Precarious Life and the Politics of Subjectivity (I.B. Tauris, 2016), a book which examines some contemporary feature films that illuminate precarious lives and the ways in which individual subjects are always already dependent upon and acting in contexts not of their own choosing.

Rob is a political theorist with broad and interdisciplinary interests in the intersection of politics and culture. In particular, his work explores the social and political tensions between independence and dependence, between ideas of liberal autonomy and realities of situated subjectivity. Informed significantly by the writings of Edmund Burke, Michel Foucault, and Judith Butler, Rob is interested in the ways in which subjectivity and social and political life are shaped by forces beyond individual control, using key terms such as inheritance, productive power, vulnerability, precariousness, and precarity to make sense of these forces. He is also attentive to the ways in which these tensions and forces are represented and play out in visual culture, particularly films.

Rob teaches courses in Political Science and Cultural Studies. His political science courses include “Political Philosophy,” “Equality and Justice,” and “Politics of Money.” He teaches courses in the Cultural Studies core curriculum, including “Introduction to Cultural Studies” and “Cultural Theories” as well as other more specialized Cultural Studies classes, including “Power and Freedom on Screen” (cross-listed in political science and cultural studies) and “Theorizing Power.”

Instructional Areas

Political Theory, Cultural Studies, American Politics

Creative Practice and Research Interests

Political Theory, Cultural Theory, Film Studies


B.A., Political Science Johns Hopkins University 1996
M.A., Political Science University of Pennsylvania 1999
Ph.D., Political Science University of Pennsylvania 2004