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B.A. Hope International University
M.A. Johns Hopkins University
J.D. University of Maryland School of Law
Ph.D. London School of Theology (UK)
Roberto Sirvent is a political theorist who studies race, law, and social movements. He also works at the intersection of ethics, philosophy of religion, and science and technology studies (STS). He has taught at Pomona College, Scripps College, and Claremont School of Theology. Roberto teaches regularly at Yale’s Summer Bioethics Institute and is an Affiliate Scholar at Yale’s Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, where he serves as Director of the Race, Bioethics, and Public Health Project. Prior to arriving at Yale, Roberto was Professor of Political and Social Ethics at Hope International University (HIU). During his time at HIU, he served as Chair of the Social Sciences Department and Director of the Center for Public Leadership.
Roberto is co-author, with Danny Haiphong, of the book, American Exceptionalism and American Innocence: A People’s History of Fake News―From the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror (Skyhorse, 2019). He is also author of Embracing Vulnerability: Human and Divine (Pickwick, 2014). With Ashon Crawley, Roberto co-edited the book, Spirituality and Abolition (Common Notions Press, 2023). His other co-edited books include Kierkegaard and Political Theology (Pickwick, 2018), Theologies of Failure (Cascade, 2019), and Decolonial Christianities: Latinx and Latin American Perspectives (Palgrave, 2019).
Roberto serves as a Contributing Editor of Parapraxis Magazine and has co-edited special issues of the Journal of Sport and Social Issues and the Journal of Disability and the Global South. He has published on topics ranging from presidential politics and critical pedagogy to sexual ethics and the cultural politics of sports. Roberto also collaborates with Interrupting Criminalization’s “Beyond Do No Harm Network” to write political education materials on prisons, policing, and medical ethics.
Roberto’s primary research considers how Marxist, psychoanalytic, and anarchist frameworks can inform debates on bioethics and public health. He is especially interested in the ways bioethics professionals can address structural determinants of health by centering the analysis of disability justice advocates, queer and trans liberation movements, mutual aid networks, and anti-colonial revolutionary struggles.
Roberto’s current research examines the prevalence of medical neglect, abuse, and torture in prisons and migrant detention centers. It shows how moral appeals to “national security” and “the health and prosperity of the nation” are used to override bioethical principles, especially in the state’s treatment of political prisoners and prisoners of war. The study chronicles ways that incarcerated dissidents have theorized medical violence as a “weapon of war” and, more specifically, as a form of counterinsurgency and state repression. This research builds off Roberto’s earlier work on American exceptionalism and is part of a larger project he is working on that explores the intersection of science, religion, and the ethics of patriotism.
Roberto is also working on two projects addressing public health issues related to schools, sports, and labor. The first argues that the creation of cooperative, non-hierarchical, and anti-authoritarian learning environments is fundamental to advancing any philosophical concept of educational justice or health justice. The second invites ethicists to draw on theories of libidinal economy and the “psychopolitics of race” to confront some of the most pressing issues in sports and medicine, including but not limited to: brain injuries and other physical violence in football; the rise of trans moral panics in youth and professional sport; and the societal, political, and economic pressures that exacerbate the mental health struggles of athletes.
Finally, Roberto’s work in clinical ethics centers on the structuring force of anti-Blackness in Latinx communities and the impact it has on everyday clinical encounters between patients, doctors, and other medical professionals.