Dr Peter Wynn Kirby

Peter Wynn Kirby is a health/environmental specialist and ethnographer at the University of Oxford. Peter has taught, supervised graduate students, and conducted research in Oxford for over a decade. In addition to being a Senior Member of Saint Antony’s College, Oxford, he is also a ‘High-End’ Overseas Visiting Fellow at Shanghai University. He holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge.

Peter was recently selected as one of 100 ‘Foreign (Overseas) Experts’ by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and granted research support for his ongoing work on waste, robots, and circular economy. Peter’s latest research fellowship in Oxford was awarded by the Leverhulme Trust (held at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford).  

Peter has held full-time or tenured positions at several international universities and has been invited to take up visiting posts at the University of Tokyo, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, New York University, and elsewhere. Much of Peter’s latest research has been directed at electronic waste (‘e-waste’) conversion, or scavenging, in East Asia. In addition to investigating the challenges and opportunities posed by robotic waste, Peter has also done extensive research on nuclear power in Japan, France, and the UK; and nuclear fallout and decontamination in Fukushima, along with a cultural analysis of waste, pollution, and purity in Japan generally. While much of Peter’s research has, then, been directed toward environmental issues in East Asia – most harrowingly in ethnographic pursuit of toxic waste controversies – his interests span a range of themes including reckonings of illness and health; broad anthropological approaches to energy, including renewables; interpretation of ‘space’ and movement; architecture, discipline, and resistance in cities; operations of social exclusion; the complex ‘conversions’ of material culture, from recycled garbage to reprocessed radioactive matter; and popular culture, particularly involving representations of dystopia. 

He is the author of numerous articles and books including ‘Radiant Scars: Fallout, Trauma, Ghosts, and (Re)worlding in Fukushima’ and ‘Excavating Robotic Waste’. Along with his academic output, Peter regularly writes Op-Eds for publications such as The New York TimesThe GuardianThe South China Morning Post, and The Daily Beast, Newsweek.  

For more information on Peter’s publications, interviews, photographic material, and other research work, please consult his external website: https://www.peterwynnkirby.com/