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Robin Whitaker


  • BA, Memorial, 1991
  • MA, York, 1994
  • PhD, California (Santa Cruz), 2001


  • Associate Professor

Contact Info

Research Interests

My scholarly work lies in the broad area of political anthropology; I am especially interested in problems of democracy, citizenship and human rights, the politics of representation, and feminist public anthropology. Northern Ireland is my main ethnographic area, but I also work in Newfoundland and the Republic of Ireland.

My earliest Northern Ireland fieldwork coincided with the start of the peace talks that led to the 1998 Belfast or Good Friday Agreement, and I have continued to do research in the post-Agreement context. This work addresses both the “traditional” ethnographic domain of face-to-face politics and what is conventionally understood as the public arena (mass media, electoral politics). The Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition, a party to the 1996-98 peace talks, provided my entry-point into the official peace process. Active membership in the Coalition – I was on the NIWC Talks team and was press officer in several elections – also forced me to grapple with problems of engaged and partisan research. Current research projects address debates about a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland and Newfoundland migrant labour in the Republic of Ireland. My MA research focused on Roman Catholic convents in Newfoundland. Future plans include new projects on international adoption and citizenship law in Canada and on human-animal relationships.

My teaching interests are quite varied: I regularly offer a course that gives second-year students a hands-on introduction to field research and have recently started teaching a senior undergraduate seminar in anthropological writing. I have developed a third year seminar in Engaged Anthropology and a fourth year course on the anthropology of Ireland. Other undergraduate and grad courses address the anthropology of gender and a range of issues relating to power and politics.

Selected Publications


  • Co-edited with Pamela J. Downie. "Feminism and Anthropology" a special issue of Anthropology in Action 18(1).


  • "Introduction: Feminist Anthropology Confronts Disengagement." (Co-authored with Pamela J. Downe). Anthropology in Action 18(1): 2-4.


  • "The politics of Friendship in Feminist Anthropology." Anthropology in Action 18(1): 56-66.


  • “Debating Rights in the New Northern Ireland” Irish Political Studies 25(1): 23-45.


  • “Writing as a Citizen? Some Thoughts on the Uses of Dilemmas.” Critique of Anthropology 28 (3): 321-338.


  • “Considering Róisín McAliskey: Engendering Justice in the Northern Ireland Peace Process.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 15 (1): 1-30.


  • “Stand Up and Be Counted!” Worker’s Voice Summer 2008: 12-15. (Co-author: Raylene Lang-Dion).


  • “Questions of National Identity.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 12 (4): 585-606.


  • “Where Difference Lies: Democracy and the Ethnographic Imagination in Northern Ireland.” In Nationalism and Multiculturalism: Irish Identity, Citizenship and the Peace Process. Andrew Finlay (ed.), Munster: LIT.


  • “Women With Facial Hair.” Source: Ireland’s Photographic Review 22 (Spring 2000): 34-35.


  • Reading Between the Lines: A Report on Political Women and the Press. Belfast: Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform.


  • From the Margins to the Mainstream: Working Towards Equality, Development and Peace, with Bronagh Hinds and Ann Hope. Belfast: Northern Ireland UN Beijing Co-ordinating Committee and Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform.


  • "'Nobody's Brother': Gender-Consciousness in Newfoundland Convents." In Carmelita McGrath, Barbara Neis and Marilyn Porter (eds.), Their Lives and Times: Women in Newfoundland and Labrador, A Collage. St. John's: Killick Press.