Vicki Kirby

Professor
Emeritus Professor

Vicki Kirby is Professor of Sociology and Anthropology in the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW. 

The motivating question behind Vicki’s research is the puzzle of the nature/culture, body/mind, body/technology division, because so many political and ethical decisions are configured in terms of this opposition. Vicki is also interested in ‘the language question’ - what is language, and how does the way we answer that question define the human and inaugurate the political?

Vicki’s fascination with origins and foundations, or what grounds an argument, has remained an enduring provocation in her work.  Drawing on a rich interdisciplinary tradition in Australian feminisms and critical theory more generally, she explores the sometimes hidden politics of everyday life.  Her particular interest is embodiment and matter, and she brings feminism and deconstruction into conversation in order to shift the terms of these inquiries.  We know that cultural meanings are biologically registered, producing symptoms and signs, but what ‘language’ enables these interior communications and how do they differ from a conventional notion of language? Can the nature/culture division be sustained if flesh is literate; if it calculates? Is the special status accorded the human considerably qualified if life’s animations are forms of reading and writing?

Investigating such questions, Vicki’s research explores the uncanny resonance between poststructural understandings of ‘the life of language’ and scientific evidence about ‘the language of life.’ The international acclaim received by Telling Flesh: the substance of the corporeal (1997, Routledge), which explores the semiological capacities of flesh, is evidence of the unique and fertile provocations in this line of inquiry. Telling Flesh is a book of exceptional significance and merit… original… a brilliant philosophical critique” (Mutman: 1999). ‘Kirby takes herself and her readers on a trip where even Derrida only sometimes dares to go. As with all the best scholarship, or writing of any stripe… it keeps generating insights and wonders through multiple readings’ (Weinstone: 2000). Eleven reviews.

Judith Butler: Live Theory (2006, Continuum) explores the question of materiality, language and the discursive and offers a sustained criticism of one of the giants of contemporary feminist and political theory. The book illuminates how a surreptitious recuperation of the nature/culture division can inform work that actively eschews the opposition, and suggests how this division can be engaged differently. ‘Vicki Kirby’s presentation of Butler is… thoughtful and rigorous, generous yet insubordinate… The level of scholarship here is superior. The reader is witness to a stimulating dialogue between two talented scholars… Kirby offers many excellent criticisms of and questions about Butler’s ideas that warrant development elsewhere’ (Kachra: 2007). Five reviews.

(2011) Judith Butler: Pensamiento en Acción trans. Diego Luis Sanromán Peña, Barcelona, Edicions Bellaterra, pp. 208. 

Quantum Anthropologies: Life at Large (2011 Duke) consolidates the innovative trajectory of Kirby’s work.  How is scholarship in the humanities already substantively implicated in the sciences? What challenges do we confront if Derrida’s ‘no outside of text’ is read as ‘no outside of Nature’? The anonymous manuscript readers for Duke University Press confirm the book’s path-finding significance. Reader #1: ‘Vicki Kirby has developed a uniquely challenging and amplifying response to deconstruction as a means of offering new reflections on nature, embodiment, materialism, and science… There have been few Derrida commentators who have been able to combine an extreme intelligence about, attention and sensitivity to Derrida’s work, with this kind of extensive challenge to it’. Reader #2: ‘Kirby is one of the foremost intellectuals of our time. …a creative and original thinker who offers profound challenges to some of our most cherished beliefs. She is a scholar whose contributions are not only making a significant impact now, but promise to do so for some time to come’. 6 reviews.

 What if Culture was Nature all Along? Editor (2017 (hb) 2018 (pb) Edinburgh University Press

What If Culture Was Nature All Along?is a collection of 11 essays curated by Vicki Kirby that proves that there is still something new to be said about feminist new materialisms and that there is value in facing this topic anew … Kirby's anthology not only adds to ongoing debates, but also puts feminist new materialisms into action, and by doing so she offers an insight into what feminist new materialisms can still do (and how)… The starting point for all the essays in this collection is an engaged and generous approach, full of curiosity and unable to be satisfied with shaky theoretical constructions. Thus, although essays engage in different topics and develop unique perspectives, the common attitude [is] of affirmative critique and genuine concern.- Monika Rogowska-Stangret, University of Warsaw, Hypatia

Vicki Kirby has already produced an impressive corpus on the relations amonglife, matter and inscription. This new volume takes her unique and formidable mode of argument to a new level. For Kirby, both our conceptions of nature/culture and our notion of ‘turns’ - back to reality, materialism or life - require a more complex and intellectually more generous approach to relations and mediations. Drawing powerfully from recent work in feminist and critical theory this book will redefine the ways in which we think about life, the human and the posthuman.- Claire Colebrook, Penn State University 2 Reviews

 

Vicki has held many teaching and research positions across Europe, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and India, most recently, Erasmus Mundus Professor Utrecht University and Visiting Professor, Winter School, Institute of Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences, Bern University. Her work is being archived by Brown University “since your work has been crucial to developments in your field and to feminist theory in general.” She was Chief Investigator of an ARC Discovery Project Grant, ‘The Life of Language and the Language of Life’ (2006-2009) $120,000; guest edited a special issue of Australian Feminist Studies in 2008, and is currently working on a manuscript provisionally titled, Human Exceptionalism on the Line.

She has an international reputation in the fields of deconstruction, feminism and new materialism, and regularly receives invitations to keynote and teach masterclasses. Invitations over the last 6 years include: Guangzhou University; Utrecht University; The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf; Somatechnics Conference, Southern Cross and University of Queensland; Department of Gender and Cultural Studies, Sydney University; Institute of Art and Architecture, Academy of Fine Arts Vienna; La Trobe University; Ghent University; Åbo Akademi University, Turku Finland; Maastricht University; Emory University; Franklin Humanities Institute Duke University; Yale University; Institute for Cultural Inquiry, Berlin; Europa Universität,Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder; Institute of Advanced Study in the Humanities and the Social Sciences, Bern University.

Vicki is currently a Founding Member of the Advisory Board Digital Semiotics Encyclopedia; A member of Terra Critica; International Editorial Advisory Board Borderlands journal; Editorial Board, New Materialisms Series, Edinburgh University Press; Editorial Associate, Critical Posthumanisms; Advisory Board, Itineration: Cross-Disciplinary Studies in Rhetoric, Media, and Culture; Advisory Panel, Wasteflow Project, Oxford University Centre for the Environment; Science Advisory Committee, Semiotica, filosofi, arte, letteratura, Athanor Book Series, Milan; Editorial Board Member: New Critical Humanities; Editorial Board Member: “Experimental Practices” Series, Brill; International Advisory BoardCatalyst: Feminism, Theory, and Technoscience.

Subject areas

Publications

Books
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Kirby V, 2011, Quantum Anthropologies: Life at large, 1st, Duke University Press, Durham, http://www.dukeupress.edu/Catalog/ViewProduct.php?productid=19894
2011
Kirby V, 2011, Judith Butler: Pensamiento en Accion, 1st, Edicions Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain, http://www.quelibroleo.com/libros/judith-butler-pensamiento-en-accion
2011
Kirby V, 2006, Judith Butler: Live Theory, First, Continuum Publishing Co, London and New York
2006
Kirby V, 1997, TELLING FLESH The substance of the corporeal, Original, Routledge Press, New York
1997
Book Chapters
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Kirby V, 2018, '“Autoimmunity: the political state of nature”', in Herbrechter S; Jamieson M (ed.), , Routledge, London
2018
Kirby V, 2018, 'Butler, Judith', in di Leo JR (ed.), , Bloomsbury Academic, London, New York, pp. 399 - 400
2018
Kirby V, 2018, 'Un/Limited Ecologies', in Fritsch M; Lynes P; Wood D (ed.), Eco-Deconstruction: Derrida and Environmental Philosophy, edn. 1st, Fordham University Press, New York, NY, pp. 121 - 140, https://www.fordhampress.com/9780823279500/eco-deconstruction/
2018
Kirby V, 2018, 'Wielogłosy o nowych materializmach', in Cielemęcka O; Rogowska-Stangret M (ed.), Feminist new materialisms: situated cartographies/ Feministyczne nowe materializmy: usytuowane kartografie, edn. N/A, e-naukowiec, Lublin, Poland, pp. 258, 288 - 260, 290
2018
Kirby V, 2018, 'Quantum Anthropology', in Braidotti R; Hlavajova M (ed.), Posthuman Glossary, edn. Theory Series, pp. 374 - 375
2018
Kirby V, 2017, 'Foreword: Where to Begin?', in Kirby V (ed.), What If Culture Was Nature All Along?, edn. New Materialisms, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. viii - xii, https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-what-if-culture-was-nature-all-along.html
2017
Kirby V, 2017, 'Embodiment', in Ivan Callus ; Stefan Herbrechter ; Manuela Rossini (ed.), Genealogy of The Posthuman, Critical Posthumanisms, e-site, pp. N/A - N/A, http://criticalposthumanism.net/genealogy/embodiment/
2017
Kirby V, 2017, 'Natural Convers(at)ions: Or, What if Culture Was Really Nature', in Queer Feminist Science Studies A Reader, edn. Feminist Technosciences, University of Washington Press, Washington, pp. 268 - 281
2017
Kirby V, 2017, 'Matter out of Place: ‘New Materialism’ in Review', in Kirby V (ed.), What If Culture Was Nature All Along?, edn. New Materialisms, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. 1 - 25, https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-what-if-culture-was-nature-all-along.html
2017
Kirby V, 2012, 'Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity', in Newall DD; Poke G (ed.), Fifty Key Texts in Art History, edn. 1st, Routledge, Oxford, pp. 227 - 231, http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415497701/
2012
Kirby V, 2010, 'Deconstruction', in Rossini M; Clarke B (ed.), Routledge companion to literature and science, edn. 1st ed., Routledge, London, pp. 287 - 297, http://www.amazon.com/Routledge-Companion-Literature-Science-Companions/dp/0415495253/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1306503264&sr=8-1#reader_0415495253
2010
Kirby V, 2008, 'Natural Convers(at)ions: or, what if Culture was really Nature all along?', in Alaimo S; Hekman S (ed.), Material Feminisms, edn. Original, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, USA, pp. 214 - 236
2008
Kirby V, 2008, '(Con)founding `the Human` Incestuous Beginnings', in Giffney N; Hird MJ (ed.), Queering the Non/Human, edn. First, Ashgate, Aldershot, pp. 35 - 54
2008
Kirby V, 2006, '`Culpability and the Double-Cross: Irigaray with Merleau-Ponty`', in Olkowski D; Weiss G (ed.), Feminist Interpretations of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, edn. Original, Pennsylvania State University Press, Pennsylvania, USA, pp. 127 - 145
2006
Kirby V; Blumenfeld WJ; Breen MS; Baer S; Brookey RA; Hall L; Shail R; Wilson N, 2005, ''There Is A Person Here’: An Interview with Judith Butler”', in Breen MS; Blumenfeld WJ (ed.), Butler Matters: Judith Butler’s Impact on Feminist and Queer Studies, edn. 1st, Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Hampshire, England, pp. 9 - 25
2005
Kirby V, 2005, 'When All That Is Solid Melts Into Language: Judith Butler and the Question of Matter', in Breen MS; Blumenfeld WJ (ed.), Butler Matters: Judith Butler’s Impact on Feminist and Queer Studies, edn. 1st, Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Hampshire, England, pp. 41 - 56
2005
Kirby V, 2005, 'Out of Africa: `Our Bodies Ourselves?`', in Nnaemeka O (ed.), Female Circumcision and the Politics of Knowledge: African Women in Imperialist Discourses, edn. First and only, Praeger Publishers, Westport, USA, pp. 81 - 96
2005
Kirby V, 2001, 'Quantum Anthropologies', in Simmons L; Worth H (ed.), Derrida Downunder, edn. Original, Dunmore Press, New Zealand, pp. 53 - 68
2001
Kirby V, 2001, 'Theory incorporated', in Advances in Gender Research, pp. 25 - 39
2001
Kirby V, 1998, 'Cultural difference', in Encyclopaedia of Semiotics, edn. Original, Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 153 - 157
1998
Kirby V, 1998, 'Value', in Encyclopaedia of Semiotics, edn. Original, Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 624 - 627
1998
Kirby V, 1996, 'Kopma Noktasinda:Feminizm ve Kliteroris Sunneti', in Oryantalizm, Hegemonya ve Kulturel Fark Istanbul: Iletisim Yayinlari, edn. Original, Illetisim Yaymlari, Istanbul, Turkey
1996
Journal articles
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Kirby V, 2018, 'Originary différance: “a quantum vitalism”', Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, vol. 48, pp. 1 - 5, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jtsb.12164
2018
Kirby V, 2018, 'Originary Humanicity: Locating Anthropos', philoSOPHIA, vol. 8, pp. 43 - 60, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/phi.2018.0002
2018
Kirby V, 2017, 'Autoimmunity: the political state of nature', Parallax, vol. 23, pp. 46 - 60, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13534645.2016.1261661
2017
Kirby V, 2017, 'O enigma do valor ou: pour onde começar?', Perspectivas: Revista de Ciencias Sociais (State University of Sao Paulo), vol. 49, pp. 83 - 99, http://seer.fclar.unesp.br/perspectivas/article/view/10982
2017
Kirby V, 2016, 'Grammatology: A Vital Science', DERRIDA TODAY, vol. 9, pp. 47 - 67, http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/drt.2016.0119
2016
Kirby V, 2015, 'Transgression: normativity’s self-inversion', Differences: a journal of feminist cultural studies, vol. 26, pp. 96 - 116, http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/10407391-2880618
2015
Kirby V, 2014, 'Human Exceptionalism on the Line', Substance: : a review of theory and literary criticism, vol. 43, pp. 50 - 67, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/sub.2014.0028
2014
Kirby V, 2013, 'Initial Conditions', Differences: a journal of feminist cultural studies, vol. 23, pp. 197 - 205, http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/10407391-1892934
2013
Kirby V; Wilson E, 2011, 'Feminist conversations with Vicki Kirby and Elizabeth A. Wilson', Feminist Theory, vol. 12, pp. 227 - 234, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1464700111404289
2011
Kirby V, 2011, 'Anthropomorphism, Again', Cr-The New Centennial Review, vol. 10, pp. 251 - 268, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/ncr.2010.0038
2011
Kirby V, 2010, 'Original Science: nature deconstructing itself', Derrida Today, vol. Vol. 3, pp. 201 - 220, http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/drt.2010.0204
2010
Kirby V, 2009, 'Tracing life: `La Vie La Mort`', Cr-The New Centennial Review, vol. 9, pp. 107 - 126
2009
Kirby V, 2008, 'Subject to Natural Law: A Meditation on the `Two Cultures` Problem', Australian Feminist Studies, vol. 23, pp. 5 - 17, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08164640701827162
2008
Kirby V, 2006, 'Review of Dominique Janicaud`s `On the Human Condition`', Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, vol. Sept 1, pp. 1 - 4
2006
Kirby V, 2005, 'Ethical Revisions of the Flesh: Irigaray with Merleau-Ponty', Journal of Contemporary Thought, vol. 21, pp. 7 - 23
2005
Kirby V, 2005, 'Just Figures? Forensic Clairvoyance, Mathematics and the Language Question', Formules de la poesie. Etudes sur Ponge, Leiris, Char et Du Bouchet., vol. 34, pp. 3 - 26, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/sub.2005.0033
2005
Kirby V, 2004, 'Humanism, Posthumanism and the Sociological Enterprise', NEXUS, pp. 8 - 9
2004
Kirby V, 2004, 'Enumerating Language: `The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics`', Configurations, vol. 11, pp. 417 - 439, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/con.2004.0028
2004
Kirby V, 2002, 'When all that is solid melts into language: Judith Butler and the Question of Matter', International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies, vol. 7(4), pp. 265 - 280
2002
Kirby V, 2001, '`There is a person here`: An interview with Judith Butler. Compiled by V.Kirby et.al.', International Journal of Sexuality and Gender Studies, pp. 7 - 24
2001
Kirby V, 1999, 'Human nature', Australian Feminist Studies, vol. 14, pp. 19 - 29, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08164649993308
1999
Kirby V, 1999, 'Turning corporeal', Semiotic Review of Books, vol. 10, pp. 4 - 6
1999
Kirby V, 1998, 'Review- Warren Shapiro and Uli Linke (eds.) Denying biology: essays on gender and pseudo procreation', TAJA - the Australian Journal of Anthropology, pp. 122 - 124
1998
Kirby V, 1991, 'Corporeal Habits: Addressing Essentialism Differently', Hypatia, vol. 6, pp. 4 - 24, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1527-2001.1991.tb00253.x
1991
Boyd S; Cleary BL; Coomer M; Cooper P; Cosner D; Cummins N; Decell K; Kemper B; Kirby V; Sims S; Van Den Dries D; Wingate L, 1991, 'Professional nursing roles: The reintegration of patient teaching', Journal of Nursing Staff Development, vol. 7, pp. 88 - 90
1991
Kirby V, 1989, 'Capitalising Difference: Feminism and Anthropology', Australian Feminist Studies, vol. 4, pp. 1 - 24, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08164649.1989.9961631
1989
Kirby V, 1988, 'REVIEW', Oceania, vol. 58, pp. 315 - 316, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/j.1834-4461.1988.tb02290.x
1988
Kirby V, 1987, 'On the cutting edge: Feminism and clitoridectomy', Australian Feminist Studies, vol. 2, pp. 35 - 55, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08164649.1987.9961564
1987
Other
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Kirby VICKI, 2015, Visceral politics: an oxymoron?”, Palgrave Macmillan, http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/biosoc.2015.40
2015