Stuart Kirsch is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan. He has carried out long-term fieldwork with the Yonggom (or Muyu) people who live on both sides of the border between Papua New Guinea and West Papua, Indonesia. For many years, he collaborated with the Yonggom on their political campaign and legal struggle against the environmental impact of the Ok Tedi copper and gold mine. His research interests include corporations, indigenous movements, ‘lost tribes’, mining, political ecology, political violence, property, and ritual and myth. He is the author of Reverse Anthropology: Indigenous Analysis of Social and Environmental Relations in New Guinea (Stanford University Press 2006).
From 2007-2008, Kirsch was a postdoctoral fellow in the Program in Agrarian Studies at Yale University, where he began work on a project examining corporate responses to critique. He subsequently received an American Council of Learned Societies fellowship and a Michigan Humanities Award to complete this project. Mining Capitalism: The Relationship between Corporations and their Critics, which examines mining conflicts in Melanesia and elsewhere, is being published by the University of California Press and will be available in June 2014.
Professor Kirsch has consulted widely on indigenous rights and environmental issues, including work on mining and property rights in the Solomon Islands, compensation for damages caused by nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands, and conservation and development in the Lakekamu River Basin of Papua New Guinea. From 2000-2002, Kirsch was a participant in a collaborative research project on cultural property rights at the University of Cambridge. He subsequently received an ESRC-SSRC collaborative research fellowship to join a project on extractive conflicts in Latin America. Kirsch also collaborates with Amerindian communities in Suriname on the impact of bauxite mining and a court case on indigenous land rights. These projects are the focus of Kirsch’s next book, Engaged Anthropology Backstage: Politics and Reflexivity beyond the Text, which he will begin writing during his sabbatical in Winter 2014.
Professor Kirsch received his Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991 and taught at Mount Holyoke College for four years before coming to the University of Michigan in 1995. He has received grants and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the U.K. Economic and Social Research Council, Fulbright-Hays, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the Royal Anthropological Institute, the Social Science Research Council, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. He has held visiting research appointments at the University of Cambridge and Goldsmiths’ College in London. At the University of Michigan he teaches undergraduate courses and graduate seminars on anthropology and history, engaged anthropology, environmental anthropology, the anthropology of property, indigenous political movements, and the Pacific.