Robin Kirk
  • Robin Kirk

  • Lecturer in the Department of Cultural Anthropology
  • International Comparative Studies Program
  • Smith Warehouse B183
  • Campus Box 90403
  • Phone: (919) 641-0635
  • Secondary web page
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Overview

    Kirk is currently a member of the BorderWork(s) Humanities Lab and is working on a book that will be a biography of the West Belfast Springfield Peace Wall. She is also completing a young adult trilogy exploring the issue of genocide and is the author of works of nonfiction, fiction, poetry, essays and children's picture books.
  • Bio

    Kirk is the author of numerous books, including The Tiger King (fiction), More Terrible Than Death: Massacres, Drugs and America’s War in Colombia (PublicAffairs) and The Monkey’s Paw: New Chronicles from Peru (University of Massachusetts Press). Her essay on Belfast is included in the Best American Travel Writing anthology of 2012 (Mariner Books). She coedits the The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Duke University) and is an editor of Duke University Press’s World Readers series. Kirk is a Faculty Co-Chair of the Duke Human Rights Center @ the Franklin Humanities Institute and is a founding member of the Pauli Murray Project, an initiative of the center that seeks to use the legacy of this Durham daughter to examine the region’s past of slavery, segregation and continuing economic inequality. An author and human rights advocate, Kirk directs the Belfast program for DukeEngage, in partnership with Healing Through Remembering, an extensive cross-community project dealing with the legacy of past conflict and human rights. She directs Undergraduate Studies for Duke’s International Comparative Studies major, where she teaches, and is a lecturer in the Department of Cultural Anthropology. An essayist and award-winning poet, she has published widely on issues as diverse as the Andes, torture, the politics of memory, family life and pop culture. An award-winning poet, Kirk also won the 2005 Glamour magazine non-fiction contest with her essay on the death penalty, available in the November 2005 issue. Her essay, “Best dog ever,” is featured in the Oxford American’s ”Best of the South” issue published in May 2010. She has been widely published; her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Mother Jones, the Washington Post, the American Scholar and Sojourners, among other publications. In the Fall of 2006, she was a Fulbright lecturer at the Human Rights Center at Istanbul Bilgi University in Turkey. In 2005-2006, she was a consultant to the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the first-ever truth commission within the United States. Kirk authored, co-authored and edited over twelve reports for Human Rights Watch, all available on-line. In the 1980s, Kirk reported for U.S. media from Peru, where she covered the war between the government and the Shining Path. During that time, she also prepared reports for the U.S. Committee on Refugees, including the first report ever on the plight of Peru’s internally displaced people. Kirk is a former Radcliffe Bunting Fellow and is a past winner of the Media Alliance Meritorious Achievement Award for Freelance Writing.
  • Other

    I blog and Twitter through “Talking Rights” ( I have written journal, magazine and newspaper articles as well as opinion pieces on Latin America, U.S. immigration policy, urban and suburban life, Latinos in the U.S., human rights, international humanitarian law, drug policy, urbanization, the environment and women. My articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Nation, the National Catholic Reporter, the American Scholar, Mother Jones, the Washington Post, the Columbia Journalism Review, the Washington Times, the London-based Observer, and the Raleigh News and Observer. I have appeared on the CBS Evening News, Sixty Minutes, All Things Considered, the BBC and Bill Moyers’ Now.
  • Specialties

    • Human Rights
    • Cultural Memory
    • Transnational Studies
  • Research Summary

    Human rights, post-conflict reconciliation
  • Research Description

    My interests include the place of human rights within a university course of study and how to deal with the past from a rights framework, including memorialization, post-conflict negotiation, cross-community relations and ways to visualize and construct frameworks around dialogue between different communities. I consider myself an engaged scholar, conducting research but also engaging in the creation of human rights advocacy, whether through anti-torture coalition-building, the Pauli Murray Project’s goals of recovering rights history in Durham or bringing Duke students to Northern Ireland to help fortify the peace process. Broadly, I am also interested in how and in what way societies create a human rights culture and the opportunities and drawbacks of different educational approaches. I am committed to promoting human rights work both at home, in communities like the one where Duke is located, and abroad.
  • Education

      • MFA,
      • Vermont College of Fine Arts,
      • 2014
      • BA,
      • English,
      • University of Chicago,
      • 1982
  • Recent Publications

      • R. Kirk.
      • "The Quiet Company."
      • Tomorrow.
      • Ed. Karen Henderson.
      • New South Wales, Australia:
      • Kayelle Press,
      • June, 2013.
      Publication Description

      • R. Kirk.
      • "The Dark Army."
      • The Moon Magazine
      • .
      • Ed. Leslee Goodman.
      • (2013)
      • .
      • R. Kirk.
      • Letter from Belfast.
      • Mariner Books,
      • 10-2-2012.
      • [web]
      Publication Description

      Some armchair travelers have an entire shelf of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's Best American Travel Writing annuals and there is no mystery why. Each year, this trade paperback features superlative writing chosen by a standout editor. Previous editors include Simon Winchester, Frances Mayes, Susan Orlean, and Jamaica Kincaid. In the 13th installment, editor William Vollman presides over an assemblage by standouts including Paul Theroux, Bryan Curtis, Lynn Freed, Robin Kirk, and Kimberly Meyer. Editor's recommendation.

      • R. Kirk.
      • "The Body in Pain: What do people of faith have to say about torture."
      • Sojourners
      • (06/2011)
      • .
      • [web]
      Publication Description

      An examination of why American Protestant churches have a higher likelihood to support torture

      • R. Kirk.
      • "Human Rights as a Contest of Meanings."
      • The World & Knowledges Otherwise Project
      • Human Rights, Democracy, and Islamic Law,
      • 1
      • .1
      • Center for Global Studies and the Humanities at Duke,
      • (2012)
      • :
      • 1-5.
      • [web]
  • View All Publications
  • Teaching

    • ICS 390S.05
      • Perkins 079
      • TuTh 10:05 AM-11:20 AM
    • ICS 489S.01
      • East Duke 204A
      • MW 10:05 AM-11:20 AM