Bernardo Zacka

Bernardo Zacka

Assistant Professor

Contemporary political theory; bureaucracy; ethnographic methods; architecture and politics; 20th century European political thought.

Biography

Bernardo Zacka is a political theorist with an interest in ethnographic methods. His research focuses on the normative challenges that arise in the course of public policy implementation. He is interested in understanding how the organizational environment in which public officials are situated affects their capacity to operate as sound and balanced moral agents. Zacka is also interested, more broadly, in normative political theory, architecture and urbanism, and 20th century European political thought.

Zacka's first book, When the State Meets the Street: Public Service and Moral Agency, was published by Harvard University Press in 2017. It explores the everyday moral lives of the frontline public workers, or "street-level bureaucrats", who act as intermediaries between citizens and the state. It won the 2018 Charles Taylor book award from the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods group of the American Political Science Association, and it builds on Zacka's doctoral dissertation, which won the 2015 Robert Noxon Toppan prize for the best dissertation on a subject of political science at Harvard University.

Prior to joining MIT, Zacka was a junior research fellow at Christ's College, Cambridge and a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford.

He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT (2005), and received his Ph.D. from the Department of Government at Harvard University in 2015.

Publications

Books

"When the State Meets the Street: Public Service and Moral Agency." Harvard University Press. 2017

Peer Reviewed Articles

"Fieldwork in Political Theory: Five Arguments for an Ethnographic Sensibility,” British Journal of Political Science, published online in June 2017 (With Lisa Herzog)

“Adhocracy, Security, and Responsibility: Revisiting Abu Ghraib a Decade Later,” Contemporary Political Theory, 15, 38-57, 2016

“Travel as Ethos: Spatial Exercises in the Work of Tony Chakar,” Grey Room, 50, 46-65, 2013

“Abu Ghraib, the Security Apparatus, and the Performativity of Power,” American Ethnologist, 37 (2), 203-211, 2010 (With Steven Caton)

Book Chapters

"What is Public Space For? Political Imaginaries and Policy Implications," in The Routledge Handbook of Ethics and Public Policy, edited by Annabelle Lever and Andrei Poama. Forthcoming in 2018.

Book Reviews

Review of The Policy State: An American Predicament, by Karen Orren and Stephen Skowronek, Contemporary Political Theory, 2018

Review of Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight, by Timothy Pachirat, Contemporary Political Theory, 13 (2), 2014

“The Two Bodies of the Bureaucrat,” review of The Bureaucrat and the Poor, by Vincent Dubois, Public Administration Review, 72 (2), 302-305, 2012

Other Publications

"Security" in the International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, ed. Hilary Callan.  2018. 

Teaching

17.000J/24.611J Political Philosophy

17.01J/24.04J Justice

News

A bottom-up view of the state

Leda Zimmerman MIT Department of Political Science

http://student.mit.edu/catalog/m17a.html#17.01An endless wait in a crowded room. The official's impassive expression handling a client in need...
Bernardo Zacka '05, a newly appointed assistant professor of political science, is well acquainted with exasperating and sometimes infuriating public service bureaucracies.

Biography

Bernardo Zacka is a political theorist with an interest in ethnographic methods. His research focuses on the normative challenges that arise in the course of public policy implementation. He is interested in understanding how the organizational environment in which public officials are situated affects their capacity to operate as sound and balanced moral agents. Zacka is also interested, more broadly, in normative political theory, architecture and urbanism, and 20th century European political thought.

Zacka's first book, When the State Meets the Street: Public Service and Moral Agency, was published by Harvard University Press in 2017. It explores the everyday moral lives of the frontline public workers, or "street-level bureaucrats", who act as intermediaries between citizens and the state. It won the 2018 Charles Taylor book award from the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods group of the American Political Science Association, and it builds on Zacka's doctoral dissertation, which won the 2015 Robert Noxon Toppan prize for the best dissertation on a subject of political science at Harvard University.

Prior to joining MIT, Zacka was a junior research fellow at Christ's College, Cambridge and a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford.

He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT (2005), and received his Ph.D. from the Department of Government at Harvard University in 2015.

Publications

Books

"When the State Meets the Street: Public Service and Moral Agency." Harvard University Press. 2017

Peer Reviewed Articles

"Fieldwork in Political Theory: Five Arguments for an Ethnographic Sensibility,” British Journal of Political Science, published online in June 2017 (With Lisa Herzog)

“Adhocracy, Security, and Responsibility: Revisiting Abu Ghraib a Decade Later,” Contemporary Political Theory, 15, 38-57, 2016

“Travel as Ethos: Spatial Exercises in the Work of Tony Chakar,” Grey Room, 50, 46-65, 2013

“Abu Ghraib, the Security Apparatus, and the Performativity of Power,” American Ethnologist, 37 (2), 203-211, 2010 (With Steven Caton)

Book Chapters

"What is Public Space For? Political Imaginaries and Policy Implications," in The Routledge Handbook of Ethics and Public Policy, edited by Annabelle Lever and Andrei Poama. Forthcoming in 2018.

Book Reviews

Review of The Policy State: An American Predicament, by Karen Orren and Stephen Skowronek, Contemporary Political Theory, 2018

Review of Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Politics of Sight, by Timothy Pachirat, Contemporary Political Theory, 13 (2), 2014

“The Two Bodies of the Bureaucrat,” review of The Bureaucrat and the Poor, by Vincent Dubois, Public Administration Review, 72 (2), 302-305, 2012

Other Publications

"Security" in the International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, ed. Hilary Callan.  2018. 

Teaching

17.000J/24.611J Political Philosophy

17.01J/24.04J Justice

News

A bottom-up view of the state

Leda Zimmerman MIT Department of Political Science

http://student.mit.edu/catalog/m17a.html#17.01An endless wait in a crowded room. The official's impassive expression handling a client in need...
Bernardo Zacka '05, a newly appointed assistant professor of political science, is well acquainted with exasperating and sometimes infuriating public service bureaucracies.