Dr Kathleen Birrell

  • Dr Kathleen Birrell

    McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow

+61 3 8344 6902 | kbirrell@unimelb.edu.au


Dr Kathleen Birrell is a McKenzie Postdoctoral Fellow at Melbourne Law School.  Her research is strongly interdisciplinary, encompassing property law, native title, environmental and climate change law, human rights law and intersections between Indigenous peoples and the law, as well as critical legal theory, philosophy of law, sociolegal studies and law and literature.  It engages with critical approaches to native title; comparative work on Indigenous and non-Indigenous approaches to property and environment, focusing on Indigenous ontologies and epistemologies; Indigenous rights at international law, including climate justice; and Indigenous and local community engagement in climate change mitigation and abatement activities.  Her postdoctoral project investigates intersections between the global imperatives of international climate change initiatives and associated legal frameworks and their domestic implementation, international human rights, and the narratives of Indigenous communities.  This research critically compares global and local ‘narratives’ of climate change and imagines the impact of climate change transitions for local and Indigenous communities.  Following various philosophical and critical legal perspectives, her forthcoming book, Indigeneity: Before and Beyond the Law (Routledge, 2016), examines contested notions of indigeneity, the troubled juxtaposition of law and justice in the context of Indigenous legal claims and literary expressions, the contested history and jurisprudence of native title, international and national discourses of rights and recognition, postcolonialism and resistance in ‘settler’ nation states, and the mutually constitutive relation between law and literature.

Kathleen completed a PhD (Law) at Birkbeck, University of London, under the supervision of Professor Peter Fitzpatrick, and an LLB (Hons), BA (Hons) and Graduate Diploma in Arts (English Literature) at The University of Melbourne.  She has taught at Birkbeck, University of London and, prior to entering academia, worked in commercial legal practice, specialising in environmental, property and native title law.  She is a member of the Melbourne Law School Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law and Institute for International Law and the Humanities.

Recent Publications:

Birrell, Kathleen, Indigeneity: Before and Beyond the Law (forthcoming, Routledge, 2016).

Birrell, Kathleen, “An Idea of Justice” (2013) 22(1) Griffith Law Review 87.

Birrell, Kathleen, Lee Godden and Maureen Tehan, “Climate Change and REDD+: Property as a Prism for Conceiving Indigenous Peoples’ Engagement” (2012) 3(2) Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 196.

Birrell, Kathleen, “‘An Essential Ghost’: Indigeneity Within the Legal Archive” (2010) 33 Australian Feminist Law Journal 81.

Birrell, Kathleen, “Indigeneity: Before and Beyond the Law” (2010) 51 Studies in Law, Politics and Society, Special Issue: Interdisciplinary Legal Studies: The Next Generation 219.

Memberships and Affiliations

Law, Literature and the Humanities Association of Australasia

Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment

View Research Publications