About Us

The Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College is the world's most expansive home for bold and risky humanities thinking about our political world inspired by the spirit of Hannah Arendt, the leading thinker of politics and active citizenship in the modern era.

About Us
Our Staff
  • Roger Berkowitz
    Academic Director: Roger Berkowitz is the Founder and Academic Director of the Hannah Arendt Center and Professor of Political Studies, Philosophy, and Human Rights at Bard College.  Professor Berkowitz writes and speaks about how justice is made present in the world. He is author of The Gift of Science: Leibniz and the Modern Legal Tradition, co-editor of Artifacts of Thinking: Reading Hannah Arendt's Denktagebuch (2017), Thinking in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics (2010), The Intellectual Origins of the Global Financial Crisis (2012), and editor of the annual journal HA: The Journal of the Hannah Arendt Center. His essay "Reconciling Oneself to the Impossibility of Reconciliation: Judgment and Worldliness in Hannah Arendt's Politics," has helped bring attention to the centrality of reconciliation in Hannah Arendt's work.  The Arendt Center organizes an annual conference every October. Professor Berkowitz edits the Hannah Arendt Center's weekly newsletter, Amor Mundi. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Bookforum, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Paris Review Online, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, The American Interest, and many other publications. (Photo Credit: Doug Menuez)

  • Samantha Rose Hill
    Acting Assistant Director and Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Studies Samantha Rose Hill came to Bard in 2015 as a postdoctoral fellow at the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities. She received her doctorate in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2014. Her research and teaching interests include critical theory, the Frankfurt School, aesthetic theory, and the History of Political Thought. Hill is completing a manuscript of Hannah Arendt's poetry, which has been edited and translated into English: Into the Dark: The Poems of Hannah Arendt. She is currently working on a monograph that explores the ethical dimensions of melancholia. At Bard, she teaches courses on historical political theory, contemporary political theory, radical political thought, affect theory, American political thought, aesthetics and politics. Before coming to Bard, she conducted post-doctoral work at the Institut für Philosophie at the Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main. 

  • Thomas Wild
    Research Director and Associate Professor of German and Director of the German Studies Program M.A., Free University of Berlin; Ph.D., University of Munich. Also studied at University of Rome, La Sapienza. Has taught at institutions of higher learning in Germany, Vanderbilt University, and Oberlin College, and recently served as Alexander von Humboldt / Feodor Lynen Research Fellow at the University of Chicago. His research and teaching interests include 20th-century German literature and film; the political dimensions of culture, art, and thought; Hannah Arendt; and contemporary developments in German media and society after 1989. Among his publications are a monograph on Arendt's relationships with key postwar German writers; an intellectual biography of Arendt; and a edition of poetry by Thomas Brasch. He coedited Arendt's conversations and correspondence with the eminent German historian and political essayist Joachim Fest. He is also a literary critic and cultural correspondent for the German dailies Sïddeutsche Zeitung and Der Tagesspiegel. At Bard since 2012.

About Us

The Arendt Center cares for and makes available the Hannah Arendt Library, with nearly 5000 books from Hannah Arendt’s personal library, many with marginalia and notes. The Arendt Center oversees projects including The Courage to Be, Hate and the Human Condition, and The American Jewish Peace Archive. At Bard, the Arendt Center sponsors short courses on Hannah Arendt and the themes for our conferences and sponsors numerous lectures and events for students, faculty, and members. Above all, the Arendt Center promotes thinking that challenges common sense assumptions and gives depth to public understandings. The effort is to provide an intellectual space for thinking that can reframe the questions that form the center of our democracy.

The McCarthy House, located on Annandale Road toward the north end of campus, houses the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities and the Human Rights Project. The house was occupied by novelist and critic Mary McCarthy when she taught English at Bard from 1946 to 1947, and when she returned, from 1986 to 1989. McCarthy and Hannah Arendt were good friends for many years, and McCarthy served as Arendt's literary executor from 1976 until her death in 1989. The conference room in the house features Arendt's desk from her last apartment in New York City.

More About Arendt: In her book Men in Dark Times, Arendt explains that darkness does not name the genocides, purges, and hunger that mark the tragedies of the twentieth century. Instead, darkness refers to the way these horrors appear in public discourse and yet remain hidden.

Concentration camps in the mid-twentieth century—and now environmental degradation, the emergence of a superfluous underclass, and dangerous economic irresponsibility—confront us daily. They are not shrouded in secrecy but are darkened by the "highly efficient talk and double-talk of nearly all official representatives, who, without interruption and in many ingenious variations, explained away unpleasant facts and justified concerns." Darkness, for Arendt, names the all-too-public invisibility of inconvenient facts.

In 2006, on the occasion of Arendt's 100th birthday, the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities convened its inaugural conference (now published as a book), "Thinking in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics." What, we asked of philosophers, businessmen, artists, and public intellectuals, can Hannah Arendt's insistence that the darkness of the public spotlight is not inevitable, that we "have the right to expect some illumination," teach us about engaged thinking and acting in our world? George Kateb, like many of our speakers, answered that thinking remains the core activity of Arendt's politics; it is thinking, he argued, that makes possible any resistance to political atrocities.

The political implications of thinking are brought front and center in Arendt's coverage of the trial of Adolf Eichmann for The New Yorker. Arendt was struck by Eichmann, the fact that he appeared to her and many others to be “terribly and terrifyingly normal.” The evil of Eichmann's deeds was indisputable, and Arendt is fully convinced he should be hanged for his crimes. 

Yet Eichmann struck Arendt as a clown rather than a monster, someone who defended his participation in horrifically evil crimes through a combination bureaucratic depersonalization and self-justifying ideological rationalizations. He was, she concluded, not stupid, but thoughtless, a joiner who found meaning and affirmation in movements to which he enthusiastically abdicated any independence and self-thinking. It was this “absence of thinking—which is so ordinary an experience in our everyday life, where we have hardly the time, let alone the inclination, to stop and think”—that Arendt came to see as one dangerous wellspring of evil in modern times. For a longer exploration of Arendt’s account of Adolf Eichmann, take a look at Arendt Center Director Roger Berkowitz’s essay, “Did Eichmann Think?