Robin Kirk

Robin Kirk

Senior Lecturer of Cultural Anthropology

External address: 
114 S. Buchanan Blvd., Smith Warehouse B183, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: 
Box 90403, Durham, NC 27708
(919) 641-0635


Kirk is the Faculty Co-Chair of the Duke Human Rights Center at 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 is a lecturer in the Department of Cultural Anthropology and directs the Human Rights Certificate. Kirk has written three books, including More Terrible Than Death: Massacres, Drugs and America’s War in Colombia (Public Affairs) and The Monkey’s Paw: New Chronicles from Peru (University of Massachusetts Press). She is a co-editor of The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Duke University) and co edits Duke University Press’s “World Readers” series. 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. Her essay on Belfast, “City of Walls,” is included in the Best American Travel Writing anthology of 2012 (Mariner Books). 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. She continues to write for US media, and has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Sojourners, The American Scholar, the Raleigh News and Observer, the Boston Globe, the Durham Herald Sun and other media.

Degrees & Credentials

  • M.F.A., Vermont College 2014

  • B.A., University of Chicago 1982


Education & Training

  • M.F.A., Vermont College 2014

  • B.A., The University of Chicago 1982

Selected Grants

Pauli Murray Project-Anti-Oppression/Community Building Programs awarded by (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2016

Straight Up Queer Truth LGBTQQ Youth Resource Guide awarded by (Principal Investigator). 2014 to 2015

Weaving a Net of Accountability: Taking on Extraoridinary Rendition at the State and Regional Level awarded by Josiah Charles Trent Memorial Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2009 to 2010

Kirk, R. Peculiar Motion. Finishing Line Press, 2016. Open Access Copy

Kirk, R. The Monkey’s Paw: New Chronicles from Peru. University of Massachusetts Press, 1997.

Kirk, Robin. “Drugs, Thugs, and Diplomats: US Policymaking in Colombia by Winifred Tate.” Anthropological Quarterly, vol. 89, no. 4, Project Muse, 2016, pp. 1271–75. Crossref, doi:10.1353/anq.2016.0080. Full Text Open Access Copy

Kirk, R. “Drugs, Thugs and Diplomats: US Policy in Colombia.” Anthropological Quarterly, Institute for Ethnographic Research.

Kirk, R. “The Quiet Company.” Tomorrow, edited by Karen Henderson, Kayelle Press, 2013.

Kirk, R. “Letter From Belfast.” Best American Travel Writing 2012, edited by William T. Vollman, Mariner Books, 2011.

Kirk, R. “Colombia: Human rights in the midst of conflict.” Human Rights and Conflict Resolution in Context, 2009, pp. 23–45.

Kirk, R. “Reflections on a silent soldier.” American Scholar, vol. 88, no. 4, Sept. 2019, pp. 30–40.

Kirk, R. “When the shooting stops: How transitional justice turns knowledge into acknowledgment.” World Policy Journal, vol. 33, no. 3, Sept. 2016, pp. 39–44. Scopus, doi:10.1215/07402775-3712993. Full Text

Kirk, R. The Quiet Company. Edited by Karen Henderson, Kayelle Press, June 2013.

Kirk, R. “No right to be silent on torture.” Muslim World, vol. 103, no. 2, Apr. 2013, pp. 229–35. Scopus, doi:10.1111/muwo.12007. Full Text Open Access Copy

Kirk, R. “Human Rights as a Contest of Meanings.” The World & Knowledges Otherwise Project, vol. 1, Center for Global Studies and the Humanities at Duke, 2012, pp. 1–5. Open Access Copy

Kirk, R. “The Lessons of Mapiripán: A response to Lesley Gill.” Transforming Anthropology, vol. 13, no. 2 (Fall), American Anthropological Association, 2005, pp. 116–18.

Kirk, R. “The Dark Army.” The Moon Magazine, edited by Leslee Goodman, 2013.

Sugar Pop. Writer. story (2014)


"For one terrible moment, she saw the thing that lived in his eyes when he thought no one but Allison was looking."

The Quiet Company. Writer. story (2012)


A group of high schoolers discovers that the dividing line between humans and monsters can be as thin as a casual scratch on the arm or an unwanted embrace.

The Dark Army. Writer. story (2011)


Jesson thinks about his past as he is recovering from a stroke and must decide if he wants to confront the loss of his family.