Zachary Reyna

Zachary Reyna
Key terms
  • Environmental humanities
  • Cultural study of law
  • New materialisms
  • Greek and medieval thought
  • Ecotheology
  • Eurasian indigenous politics
  • 19th-century comparative literature
  • Psychoanalysis and attachment theory
  • Masochism
  • Eco-cinema

Zachary Reyna is a political theorist working in the environmental humanities and cultural study of law. He received his PhD in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University (USA), where his dissertation offered an ecological reading of the natural law tradition that rethought the concept of political obligation for contemporary environmentalist politics. He he taught political theory and environmental thought at Johns Hopkins and Towson University, and is the assistant editor of the journal “Political Theory”. He is now professor in political theory at SAS.


Zachary’s research focuses on how social and political obligations create attachments, produce bonds, and engender belonging to shared environments and ecosystems that extend beyond the human world (link 1, link 2, link 3). He sees his work primarily as a response to questions about the place of embodiment, the hard sciences, and nature in the humanities and the role of the humanities scholar in the twenty-first century academy (link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4, link 5). His doctoral dissertation explored the concept of political obligation (link 1, link 2) in environmental political thought through the lens of the natural law tradition (link 1, link 2, link 3). Drawing on a diverse range of thinkers from Sophocles, Aquinas, Rousseau, and Sacher-Masoch to Lou Andreas-Salomé, Zachary argued that political obligation is not simply a “moral duty” restricted to rational human citizens, but an ecological practice binding human-nonhuman interaction—the “connective tissue” of the sublunary biosphere, as Aquinas puts it.

Currently he is working on two projects. The first explores the political-philosophical implications of the conservationist practice of “rewilding”. Here Zachary argues that rewilding projects should be seen as sites where new forms of political obligation are emerging. The second project considers how the rise and fall of the nineteenth-century folktale, and its structure of belief-unbelief-denial, can illuminate the contemporary phenomenon of climate-change denial.