The PROFile

Dr. Peter Ives

Photo by Daniel Crump

Professor - Political Science

Dr. Peter Ives is looking to our global past for insight into our political future.

“A lot of my recent research has been on Antonio Gramsci,” Ives says, speaking of the Communist Party of Italy co-founder who was imprisoned by Mussolini’s fascist government. “(Gramsci) was very into the importance of culture to politics.”

“He was interested in why Italian peasants were reading French literature and pulp novels rather than Italian ones. He was also trained as a linguist and was very interested in Italian language politics.”

Ives is exploring those themes of political language in his current research. The political science professor, who earned his BA at Reed College in Portland, Oregon along with a PhD and MA from York University, is investigating the political impact of “global English.”

“The basic idea there,” Ives explains, “is that standard languages have been key to nationalism, nation states and nation building from the 18th century onwards. And yet, there’s very little focus on the importance of this massive explosion of the English language being used mostly by non-native speakers. So, examining those many different contexts to see what extent that changes our sense of political community, and how that community is connected to language.”

Ives says he loves teaching all of his classes, though he dislikes the amount of grading required in his intro course. It’s a disposition that may have arisen from his days as a student at Reed College.

“(Reed) had what they called ‘deemphasized grades,’” Ives says, chuckling. “It was a compromise between the hippy-dippy notion of ‘grades are harmful’ and the normal system. So we got graded, but they never told us what our grades were.”


AGE: 47.

AREA OF RESEARCH: Political theory, language politics, global capitalism and inequality.

NUMBER OF PEER-REVIEWED PUBLICATIONS: Two single-authored books, co-editor of two collections, 11 articles and five book chapters.

LANGUAGES YOU’VE BEEN TRANSLATED INTO: Turkish, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Italian.

MEANING OF LIFE IN SHORT: “To think hard and be challenged.”

STUDENT PET PEEVE: “When they miss a class, and they come up to me and say, ‘Did I miss anything?’ As if I’d say, ‘Oh no, we didn’t do anything!’ I’ve started responding by saying, ‘I hope you missed something. Otherwise the rest of us were just wasting our time.’”



Published in Volume 70, Number 21 of The Uniter (February 25, 2016)

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