Ásta Kristjana Sveinsdóttir '92


Asta Sveinsdottir, Associate Professor of Philosophy

I was born and raised in Iceland and came to Brandeis on a Wien scholarship. My chief motivation for coming to Brandeis was the chance to study both mathematics and philosophy, which was hard to combine in my home country. I had a wonderfully rich experience at Brandeis. Classes were small and professors were generous with their time and energy. I majored in both math and philosophy and have very fond memories both of my math professors who included Igusa, Monsky, Buchsbaum, and Auslander, and of the wonderful philosophy faculty.

I still remember vividly sitting in Fred Sommers' kitchen, eating chicken soup and discussing Aristotle's Categories and Sommers' term logic. I also remember being in distress as I handed Palle Yourgrau a paper on Frege's context principle as I thought my interpretation of the principle had a fundamental flaw. And I remember the many tutorials with Alan Berger in Café Pamplona on meaning, reference, and formal semantics, among other things. Other professors who were at Brandeis at the time and whom I remember fondly were William Johnson, Eli Hirsch, Jerry Samet, Robert Greenberg, and Andreas Teuber.

I wrote my senior thesis on possibility with Alan Berger. That was my beginning foray into metaphysics and that is where I have continued to focus my energies, although now I think of myself as being a metaphysician by training and temperament, but a metaphysician who also does social philosophy and feminist theory.

After Brandeis I went to Harvard and then to MIT, where I wrote my PhD thesis on what makes a property essential to an object, under the direction of Sally Haslanger. I am now Associate Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University. I'm currently working on two big book projects. The first is a monograph entitled Categories We Live By, in which I offer a metaphysics of social categories. The second is an edited volume, The Oxford Handbook of Feminist Philosophy, co-edited with Kim Q. Hall. Both will be published by Oxford University Press. I will be a Fellow at the National Humanities Center academic year 2016-2017.

asta@sfsu.edu ---