DR Kathleen Birrell

DR Kathleen Birrell


  • Academic, Law



  • 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 Bi   


Selected publications



Education and training

  • PhD, University of London 2013
  • LLB, University of Melbourne 2005
  • BA, University of Melbourne 2005
  • Grad Dip Arts, University of Melbourne 2001