Étienne Balibar is best known as a Marxist philosopher and political theorist focused on historical materialism, critical theory, ethics, and political philosophy. As a student of Louis Althusser at the École Normale Supérieure from 1960 to 1965, Balibar contributed to Althusser's collective theoretical work Reading Capital (1965). Major books written by Balibar include Spinoza and Politics (1985), Race, Nation, Class (with Immanuel Wallerstein, 1991), The Philosophy of Marx (1993), Politics and the Other Scene (2002), and We, the People of Europe? Reflections on Transnational Citizenship (2004).
Etienne Balibar was born in Avallon, Yonne, Bourgogne, France on April 23, 1942. He earned a Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1962 and Diploma of Higher Studies in 1963 from the University of Paris (Sorbonne) while a student at the École Normale Supérieure. In 1987, he earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree, cum laude, from the Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen (Netherlands) for his dissertation entitled, "The infinite contradiction: elements of a philosophy in history."
Balibar received an honorary doctorate from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) in 2005. Etienne Balibar is Professor Emeritus of moral and political philosophy at the University of Paris, Nanterre and Distinguished Professor of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine.