Peter Gratton has recently taken up a post in the Department of Philosophy at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, having previously taught at the University of San Diego. He runs a blog called Philosophy in a Time of Error. He became a co-editor of Society and Space earlier this year, along with Maia Green and Jane M. Jacobs. Interviews with Maia and Jane were previously published on this blog.
Stuart Elden: Thanks for talking to me Peter. Could you say something about your background and training?
Peter Gratton: Sure. I grew up in New York under less than ideal circumstances—parents on public aid, etc. After finding it impossible to continue at an expensive Boston school, I eventually attended SUNY, Stony Brook, which not only has one of the best Continental philosophy programs (I continue to be in touch with many of the faculty there), but also, as a research one institution, offered great courses in the sciences. A double major in political science and philosophy, I did work towards a master’s in public policy before heading off to DePaul University in Chicago, which was going through a transition of sorts when I arrived. In the 90s, most students were focusing on Heidegger. When I arrived in 2000, Emmanuel Eze, the late Africana philosopher, had just come in as well, along with Tina Chanter, whose courses in feminism would deeply influence me. Given my interests, I fit directly into the transition, becoming Eze’s assistant editor for Philosophia Africana, while also taking courses in the history of philosophy and contemporary Continental theory. I would point to Michael Naas as an indelible influence: an extraordinary teacher, he was also a model for close readings of classical texts (his focus being Plato) with another eye toward such figures as Derrida and Foucault. It’s not an experience I would trade: I had remarkable freedom with my own research projects (I was probably on the conference circuit as much then as now) and I have none of the hang-ups a lot of people derive from their graduate student days.
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