Eben Kirksey is an American anthropologist who specializes on science and justice. Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study is hosting Kirksey in the 2019-2020 academic year, where he is conducting research on gene editing, the innovation economy, and social inequality.Read more on Eben's profile
Ph.D. 2008 UC Santa Cruz
M.Phil. 2003 University of Oxford
B.A. 2000 New College of Florida
Kirksey graduated with an honors degree from New College of Florida, with a double major in biology and cultural anthropology. Ever since, he has been working to integrate insights from the two fields. After studying History of Medicine at the University of Oxford, with a British Marshall Scholarship, he went on to complete his PhD under James Clifford and Donna Haraway at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Duke University Press has published his two books—Freedom in Entangled Worlds (2012) and Emergent Ecologies (2015)—as well as one edited collection: The Multispecies Salon (2014). Google Scholar has listed most of his academic publications.
Prof. Kirksey is perhaps best known for his work in multispecies ethnography—a field that situates contemporary scholarship on animals, microbes, plants, and fungi within deeply rooted traditions of environmental anthropology, continental philosophy, and the sociology of science. “The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography,” an article co-authored with Stefan Helmreich, has served as a charter for anthropologists and intellectual allies who study other species whose lives and deaths are linked to human social worlds.
Within the art world Kirksey has become an established curator. A 2012 cover story of Art Review celebrated his first New York City exhibit: The Multispecies Salon which brought together environmental artists with hackers who are remaking life itself. At Roskilde, the annual European music festival featuring 180 bands and over 130,000 festival-goers, Kirksey collaborated with performance artists to animate insights from his last book, Emergent Ecologies, with a site-specific installation. Princeton University hosted an art exhibit to launch the book, and a Brooklyn warehouse hosted a continuation of the show with over 90 artists his ideas.
Kirksey has delivered scores of invited lectures and keynote presentations at distinguished international institutions including Oxford University, Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle (Paris), Oxford University, Yale University, the New York Academy of Sciences, and Stanford University.
Eben Kirksey first went to West Papua, the Indonesian-controlled half of New Guinea, as an exchange student in 1998. These early experiences laid the ground work for his first book: Freedom in Engangled Worlds, which blends ethnographic research with indigenous parables to illustrate visions of dramatic transformations on coming horizons. In September 2010 Eben testified in a Congressional Hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives about massacres in West Papua.
Eben Kirksey is currently studying how CRISPR-Cas9, and other gene editing tools, are opening up new futures for the human species. While following this molecule around the world he is also experimenting with new methods for chemo-ethnography.
Close to two million people watched Eben Kirksey question Dr. Jiankui He about the ethics of CRISPR embryo editing as the proceedings of Human Genome Editing Summit streamed live from Hong Kong. Reporters from The Associated Press, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Democracy Now, Time Magazine, The Guardian, the BBC, ABC radio Australia, and the International Herald Tribune, among many other media outlets, have interviewed him about his work.