Nico Jenkins (b. 1970) is a theorist and writer whose work focuses on finitude and uncertainty, using philosophical traditions from both classical Buddhism and contemporary continental thinking to explore the gaps and spaces in our knowable world(s). The challenge of the climate emergency has become a recent focus of study, drawing his previous work on uncertainty to bear on an uncertain future.
Using Heidegger’s concept of the lichtung and ereignis to examine a world perforated with voids and lacunae in which the event of truth makes its first inchoate appearances, Jenkins seeks, in Echoes of No Thing (Punctum, 2018), a book based on his doctoral dissertation of the same name, to question our own inherent certainties in a radically uncertain world. Jenkins’s areas of research include classical Buddhist thought, contemporary European thinking, ethics, alienation, and how our basic philosophic concepts are challenged and eroded through the predicted effects of cataclysmic climate change.
Another recent focus for Jenkins has been the role of practice (in the form of labor or craft) in returning one’s self to oneself, in bridging the gap that modern capitalist society cleaves. This practice of the self (with Foucault) is a practice of “form-giving activity” (with Marx) and works, if not to complete the whole, to at least gather the pieces in one place.
Jenkins teaches an intensive summer seminar at EGS “On Labor and Craft,” part of the EGS Cello Project with Robert Young and Chris Fynsk, and is Assistant Professor of Ethics and Philosophy at Husson University in the United States. In addition, he lectures on art and philosophy at the Maine College of Art in Portland. In the past, he has taught in the philosophy department at the University of Maine in Orono, where he was also a preceptor in the Honors College, leading a yearly seminar on reading the foundational texts of Western Civilization.
His recent paper “Ecstatic Critique and The End of The World: Baudrillard’s America and The Climate Emergency”, delivered at Oxford-Brookes University, read baudrillard’s text America as an unintentional dirge sung against climate change. Writing in Pedagogies of the Disaster, a text he co-edited and which features essays by Christopher Fynsk, Judith Balso, and Vincent Van Gerven Oei as well as others, he explored how the commercialization and corporatization of the modern university system has reduced learning—with Heidegger, thinking—to a rote series of exercises devoid of wonder.
In 2011, Jenkins co-founded the online para-academic journal continent. with Paul Boshears and Jamie Allen, where he was co-editor until 2014.
Before turning to writing and philosophy, as a photographer, Jenkins documented the sometimes violent, sometimes mundane changes that occurred in the wake of the revolutions in Eastern Europe in the 1990’s. His more recent work, entitled All The Lonely Places, chronicles the forgotten spaces of the contemporary urban and semi-urban landscape. His photographs explore and celebrate the ignored and neglected environments which exist just beyond the periphery of society’s gaze.
Prior to receiving his PhD at European Graduate School (PACT, summa cum laude), Jenkins achieved a Master of Arts in Eastern Classics from St John’s College (Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA), where his work focused on the early Pali cannon of Buddhist writings, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from San Francisco Art Institute (San Francisco, California, USA) in performance art. Jenkins has exhibited photographs, paintings and performed widely in both the United States and Europe.
An American born in Madrid, Jenkins has lived in Rome, Beirut, Hong Kong, Paris, and New York, among other locations, and now resides on the coast of Maine. His work experience, prior to being a professor, includes everything from working as a sommelier to boat builder, as well as being a rented bodyguard for Wong Faye in New York.