Dr Eben Kirksey

Disciplinary Convener (Chair) of Environmental Humanities, ARC Fellow (2014-2017), and Senior Lecturer (Tenured)
2008 Ph.D. UC Santa Cruz - 2002 M.Phil. University of Oxford - 2000 B.A. New College
School of Humanities & Languages

Contact

+61 44 837 9170
Room 333, Morven Brown
Kensington Campus

Consultation

E-mail for consultation.
Fields: Social and Cultural Anthropology, Ecology not elsewhere classified, Cultural Studies, Poststructuralism
Tags: Conserving the Historic Environment

Eben Kirksey studies the political dimensions of imagination as well as the interplay of natural and cultural history.  Duke University Press has published his two books—Freedom in Entangled Worlds (2012) and Emergent Ecologies (2015)—as well as one edited collection: The Multispecies Salon (2014).

Dr. Kirksey is perhaps best known for his work in multispecies ethnography—a field that mixes ethnographic, historical, ethological, and genetic methods to study spaces where humans and other species meet.  He first entered this field as an editor and curator.  “The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography,” a special issue of Cultural Anthropology co-edited with Stefan Helmreich, situates contemporary scholarship on animals, microbes, plants, and fungi within deeply rooted traditions of environmental anthropology, continental philosophy, and the sociology of science.  Collaborations with bioartists, who work with living matter as their media, produced The Multispecies Salon, an edited book which brought together insights from the humanities on the microbiome, health, food, environmental justice, and synthetic biology.

Emergent Ecologies, his latest book monograph (Duke: 2015), explores how chance encounters, historical accidents, and parasitic invasions have shaped present and future multispecies communities.  The book asks: “How do certain plants, animals, and fungi move among worlds, navigate shifting circumstances, and find emergent opportunities?”  

Eben Kirksey first went to West Papua, the Indonesian-controlled half of New Guinea, as an exchange student in 1998. As a British Marshall Scholar at Oxford University, and a doctoral student under James Clifford at UC Santa Cruz, he later studied a popular indigenous political movement in West Papua.  Kirksey's research morphed as he discovered that collaboration, rather than resistance, was the primary strategy of indigenous Papuan leaders. Accompanying indigenous activists to Congressional offices in Washington D.C., Kirksey saw the revolutionaries' knack for getting inside institutions of power and building coalitions with unlikely allies.  Freedom in Engangled Worlds, his first book, blends ethnographic research with indigenous parables to illustrate visions of dramatic transformations on coming horizons.  Papuans have visions of a future when they will give away their natural resources in grand humanitarian gestures, rather than watch their homeland be drained of timber, gold, copper, and natural gas.

Princeton University hosted Dr. Kirksey as the 2015-2016 Currie C. and Thomas A. Barron Visiting Professor and he is currently an Executive Program Committee Member of the American Anthropological Association (AAA).

Dr. Kirksey is currently supervising six honors and PhD students who are conducting research on human entanglements with animals and plants as well as on indigeneity and gender.  He is not accepting new PhD students in 2017.  He is currently Convener of Environmental Humanities and Co-Convener of the Masters in Environmental Management. 

Research

Eben Kirksey studies the political dimensions of imagination as well as the interplay of natural and cultural history.

Writing in collaboration with Stefan Helmreich he coined the term "multispecies ethnography" to describe new approaches for studying contact zones where the lines separating nature and culture have broken down.



Eben first went to West Papua, the Indonesian-controlled half of New Guinea, as an exchange student in 1998. Later his study of West Papua's resistance to the Indonesian occupiers and the forces of globalization morphed as he discovered that collaboration, rather than resistance, was the primary strategy of this dynamic social movement. Duke University Press published this study as a book, Freedom in Entangled Worlds, in 2012.



His latest book, an edited collection called The Multispecies Salon: Gleanings from a Para-Site, explores a series of entangled questions: Which species flourish, and which fail, when natural and cultural worlds intermingle and collide? What happens when the bodies of organisms, and even entire ecosystems are enlisted in the schemes of biotechnology and the dreams of biocapitalism? And finally, in the aftermath of disaster--in blasted landscapes that have been transformed by multiple catastrophes--what are the possibilities of biocultural hope? The Multispecies Salon is in production with Duke University Press for publication in 2014.

 

In September 2010 Eben testified before the U.S. Congress about massacres in West Papua. His written testimony is available on the House of Representatives website and a video of the presentation is available on-line.

He joined Indonesian investigative reporter Andreas Harsono in 2008 to publish "Criminal Collaborations", a peer-reviewed article about Indonesian military involvement in the murder of two Americans. This research started a lively discussion in the Indonesian media and sparked a series of media articles in publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! invited Eben to discuss this research on her news show.

Publications

    Books

    Book Chapters

    Journal articles

    Curatorial Outputs

    • 1743543, 2016, Emergent Ecologies: NYC Emergence, exhibited at: Kilroy Metal Ceiling, 283 Greene Ave, Brooklyn, 11238, 30 April - 18 June 2016
    • 1743542, 2016, Emergent Ecologies, exhibited at: Princeton University, Studio '34 Cafe, Butler College, Princeton, NJ, 29 February - 30 March 2016
    • 1743555, 2015, Art as Multispecies Engagement, exhibited at: Synapse: The International Curator's Network, Sydney and Jakarta, 04 - 04 December 2015
    • 1743552, 2015, multispecies-salon.org, exhibited at: , 01 October - 31 December 2015
    • 1743541, 2015, Chemical Species, exhibited at: Princeton University, Aaron Burr Hall, Department of Anthropology, Princeton, NJ, 22 October - 20 January 2015
    • 925719, 2014, Biopolitical Tactics, exhibited at: Babycastles, New York City, 01 - 02 November 2014
    • 131408, 2012, The Multispecies Salon, exhibited at: Proteus Gowanus; Brooklyn, New York, 01 January 2012
    • 132380, 2011, The Multispecies Salon, exhibited at: The CUNY Graduate Center; New York, NY, 01 March - 01 December 2011
    • 131127, 2010, The Multispecies Salon, exhibited at: Kawliga Studios; New Orleans, LA, 01 November 2010
    • 131124, 2010, The Multispecies Salon, exhibited at: The Ironworks; New Orleans, LA, 01 November 2010

    Creative Written Works

    • Kirksey EE, 2016, Species, Lexicon for an Anthropocene Yet Unseen, Howe C; Pandian A, (eds.), Cultural Anthropology

    Recorded / Rendered Creative Works

    Creative Works (non-textual)

    • Kirksey EE, 2016, Endangered Frog Giveaway, Emergent Ecologies, NYC Emergence: Kilroy Metal Ceiling, 283 Greene Ave, Brooklyn, 11238, 20 April - 18 June 2016, medium: Living frogs, plants, fruit flies, and aquarium tank.
    • Kirksey EE, 2016, Mutant Fly Utopia, Emergent Ecologies, Kilroy Metal Ceiling, 283 Greene Ave, Brooklyn, NY, 31 March - 18 June 2016
    • Kirksey EE, 2016, Mutant Giveaway, Hope in a Time of Extinction, James Gallery, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, 365 Fifth Ave, New York, NY 11202, 24 - 24 February 2016, medium: Living mutant flies, glass, and culture media.
    • Kirksey EE, 2015, Emergent Ecologies: Parasites, multispecies-salon.org, https://vimeo.com/143422907, 01 - 31 December 2015, medium: Digital video.
    • Kirksey EE, 2014, Searching for Chytrids, Biopolitical Tactics, Babycastles, New York City, 01 - 02 November 2014, medium: digital projection, metal, glass, living microbes
    • Kirksey EE, 2013, Multispecies Intra-actions, Multispecies Intra-actions, MOP Projects, 2/39 Abercrombie St, Chippendale NSW 2008, 08 - 24 July 2013, medium: digital media, photography, sculpture, kinetic art, bioart, video
    • Kirksey E; Dragomer K, 2012, Multispecies Migrations, The Multispecies Salon, Proteus Gowanus; Brooklyn, New York, 01 July 2012
    • Kirksey E; Khadavi M; Earle G, 2012, Utopia for the Golden Frog of Panama, The Multispecies Salon, Proteus Gowanus; Brooklyn, New York, 01 May - 01 July 2012
    • Kirksey E; Khadavi M, 2012, The Frog Pregnancy Test, The Multispecies Salon, Proteus Gowanus; Brooklyn, New York, 01 August 2012

Teaching

Environment, Sustainability and Development - ARTS2240

Multispecies Worlds - ARTS3244

Environmental Humanities Capstone - ARTS3240

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