Robin Whitaker


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


Associate Professor

Phone: (709) 864-7451  Office: Queen's College, QC-4004

Research Interests:

My main research interests include: political anthropology, with a particular focus on problems of democracy, citizenship and human rights; reproductive rights; the anthropology of debt; lived neoliberalism; and public anthropology. Geographically, my research has focused on Northern Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador.

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 partisan research. Newer ongoing research projects address the politics of abortion access in both Northern Ireland and Newfoundland and Labrador; and the politics of household debt in post-boom Newfoundland. I am also committed to writing for the non-academic public and contribute an anthropologically informed column, Gadfly, to

 Selected Publications:

  • "Criminalizing Journalism: Justin Brake and The Independent." In
    Stephen Crocker and Lisa Moore (eds.), Muskrat Falls: How a Mega Dam
    Became a Predatory Formation (MUP, 2021).
  • "Thinking Outside the Crisis" - 2020 edited special series for the Independent. Introduction available here:;Series available at: 
  • “Begging to Differ in a Small Place.” In Alex Marland and Lisa Moore(eds.) The Democracy Cookbook. ISER Books. Reprinted in The Telegram 21 September 2017 (Available at: 
  • Archived Gadfly columns: 
  • “Abortion Governance in the New Northern Ireland.” (with Goretti Horgan). In: A Fragmented Landscape: Abortion Governance and Protest Logics in Europe. Silvia De Zordo, Joanna Z. Mishtal and Lorena Anton, eds. Berghahn books (2017). 
  • Presentation on “Everyday Debt” in “Affordable Housing and Housing Affordability for Mobile Workers and in Communities affected by E-GRM” (Panel). Forum on Housing and the Mobile Work Force in Newfoundland and Labrador. On the Move Partnership. The Fluvarium, St. John’s (2016). Synopsis available online through: 
  • Advocacy Report: New Feminist Organization Puts Choice in Women’s Hands.” Council on Anthropology and Reproduction Newsletter 22 (2): 7-8. 2015. 
  • Anthropology in Action: Journal for Applied Anthropology in Policy and Practice 18 (1). Special Issue on Feminism and Anthropology, co-edited with Pamela Downe. 
  • "Introduction: Feminist Anthropology Confronts Disengagement." (with Pamela J. Downe). Anthropology in Action 18(1): 2-4, 2011. 
  • "The politics of Friendship in Feminist Anthropology." Anthropology in Action 18(1): 56-66, 2011. 
  • “Debating Rights in the New Northern Ireland” Irish Political Studies 25(1): 23-45, 2010. 
  • “Writing as a Citizen? Some Thoughts on the Uses of Dilemmas.” Critique of Anthropology 28 (3): 321-338, 2008. 
  • “Considering Róisín McAliskey: Engendering Justice in the Northern Ireland Peace Process.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 15 (1): 1-30, 2008. 
  • “Questions of National Identity.” Identities: Global Studies in Culture and Power 12 (4): 585-606, 2005. 
  • “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, 2004.