Stuart Kirsch

Professor of anthropology

Stuart Kirsch is professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (US). He is leading the Transitions: Pathways to a Post-Carbon Future project.

Kirsch earned a BA in anthropology in 1982 and a PhD in cultural anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania (US) in 1991. He has been on the faculty at the University of Michigan since 1995. Kirsch has consulted widely on indigenous rights and environmental conflicts in the Pacific and the Amazon. He received fellowships from the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland in urgent anthropology and the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University. Kirsch provided affidavits and expert opinions to the Supreme Court of Victoria in Australia, the Nuclear Claims Tribunal in the Marshall Islands and the Inter-American Commission on and Court of Human Rights. He has held visiting appointments at the University of Cambridge; Goldsmiths, University of London; and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Kirsch’s early work on reverse anthropology considered whether culture continues to matter in the face of overwhelming power disparities. It was based on ethnographic research in the lowland rainforest in Papua New Guinea. He subsequently investigated the relationship between corporations and their critics in work on mining capitalism. Kirsch is a leading figure in the field of engaged anthropology, which addresses the contributions scholars make to public debates and social change. He recently worked with engineers to design new methods and technologies for reducing the environmental impacts of mining. His research produces novel forms of academic knowledge through collaboration with partners located outside of university settings, including indigenous activists, lawyers, civil society actors and experts in various fields. Kirsch’s project, Transitions: Pathways to a Post-Carbon Future, is examining the social and technological changes being undertaken to limit global climate change.