Peter Wynn Kirby is a health/environmental specialist and ethnographer at the University of Oxford, where he is a Senior Member of Saint Antony's College, Oxford. Peter's latest research fellowship was awarded by the Leverhulme Trust (and based at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of 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 has been a researcher at the University of Oxford for over a decade. He came to Oxford as Brookes' Senior Lecturer in the Anthropology of Japan. Prior to taking up that post, Peter conducted nearly three years of research in France on waste and nuclear risk while based at the Centre de Recherches sur le Japon, EHESS, Paris. He also spent several years as a tenured assistant professor at Ritsumeikan in Japan and held a research post in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Tokyo University while engaging in extensive Japan-based fieldwork. While working in Japan, he returned to the UK to lecture on the 'cultures' of global environmentalism each winter in the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge.
Peter was awarded a grant from the John Fell OUP Research Fund, along with colleague Dr Anna Lora-Wainwright, to scrutinize e-waste flows in East Asia and the peculiar industrial ecology of sorts that has developed between Japan, China and the USA. The grant, entitled 'Urban Mining, Toxic Payload: Transnational Circuits of E-Waste Between Japan and China', sent Peter to China to embark on ethnographic fieldwork there. The Leverhulme Trust grant extends and deepens this multi-pronged research project.
Peter has also done extensive research on nuclear power in Japan, France, and the UK; nuclear fallout and decontamination in Fukushima; and a cultural analysis of waste, pollution, and purity in Japan generally. While much of Peter's research has, then, been directed toward an analysis of 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; 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.
Since 2011, he has helped develop and teach an innovative Masters seminar, winner of Oxford University's Teaching Excellence Award, along with colleagues from Oxford's interdisciplinary 'Health, Environment, Development' (HED) collaboration.
He was runner-up for the 2015 Area Prize for New Research in Geography.