Robin Kirk

Lecturer in the Department 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 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). She coedits the The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics (Duke University) and is an editor of Duke University Press’s World Readers series.

Her essay on Belfast is included in the Best American Travel Writing anthology of 2012 (Mariner Books). A short story, “The Quiet Company,” is included in Tomorrow, an anthology of speculative fiction from Kayelle Press and also appears inBeyond the Nightlight published by A Murder of Storytellers. Another story, “The Dark Army,” appears in the November 2013 edition of The Moon Magazine. “Sugar Pop,” about a teen working in a Chicago bakery, won an honorable mention in the Chicago Reader’s 2014 Pure Fiction contest.

Kirk is a 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 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 is a lecturer in Duke’s 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. She's contributed to the New York Times, Washington Post, the Washington Post, DAME magazine, Sojourners, The American Scholar, the Raleigh News and Observer, the Boston Globe and others. 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. 

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.

She is a graduate of the University of Chicago and holds an MFA in Children’s and Young Adult literature from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

More of Kirk’s work is available on her Scribd site. Kirk is represented by The Choate Agency. She can be reached at, through her Facebook Page or on Twitter at @robinkirk.

Degrees & Credentials

  • M.F.A., Vermont College 2014

  • B.A., University of Chicago 1982

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

Straight Up Queer Truth LGBTQQ Youth Resource Guide awarded by Alliance For Full Acceptance (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 (In preparation). Georgetown, KY: Finishing Line Press, March 2016. (Collection) Open Access Copy

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

The Peru Reader: History, Culture, Politics. Ed. R Stein, O Starn, and CI DeGregori. Duke University Press, 1995.

Kirk, R. "Drugs, Thugs, and Diplomats: US Policymaking in Colombia." ANTHROPOLOGICAL QUARTERLY 89.4 (2016): 1271-1275.

Kirk, R. "The Quiet Company." Tomorrow. Ed. K Henderson. Kayelle Press, June 2013.

Kirk, R. "Letter From Belfast." Best American Travel Writing 2012. Ed. WT Vollman. Mariner Books, 2011.

Kirk, R. "Colombia: Human rights in the midst of conflict." Human Rights and Conflict Resolution in Context. December 1, 2009. 23-45.

Kirk, R. "When the shooting stops: How transitional justice turns knowledge into acknowledgment." World Policy Journal 33.3 (September 1, 2016): 39-44. Full Text

Kirk, R. "No Right to be Silent on Torture." MUSLIM WORLD 103.2 (April 2013): 229-235. Full Text Open Access Copy

Kirk, R. "Human Rights as a Contest of Meanings." The World & Knowledges Otherwise Project 1 (2012): 1-5. (Academic Article) Open Access Copy

Kirk, R. "The Lessons of Mapiripán: A response to Lesley Gill." Transforming Anthropology 13.2 (Fall) (2005): 116-118.

Kirk, R. "The Dark Army." Ed. L Goodman. The Moon Magazine (2013). (Academic Article)

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.