Dr Robert George William Kirk BA, MA, PhD

Reader in Medical History and Humanities

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I studied History and History of Science at Lancaster University, where I developed an interest in the role of the life sciences in shaping how we understand ourselves as ‘human’. Moving to the then Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine at the University of East Anglia, I embarked on studying the interconnectedness of human and nonhuman animals within medical and scientific cultures. In 2006, having completed a PhD at the then Wellcome Centre for the History of Medicine, University College London (UCL), I joined the Centre for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine (CHSTM) at the University of Manchester.

Distinctive contributions of my work include:

  • Utilising historical narrative as a resource to understand questions of contemporary relevance.
  • Demonstrating the relevance of investigating science, technology and medicine through the interdisciplinary lens of multi-species relations.
  • Investigating the historical emergence and transformation of moral values within medical science and health practices with specific focus on animal research
  • Exploring how social and material relations shape medical knowledge and identity and how affective (subjective) relations have been managed and harnessed within health practices.

In 2009, supported by the Animals and Society Institute (USA), I was a Visiting Research Fellow at Duke University Program in Women's Studies. This allowed me to develop an understanding of how the emerging field of 'Animal Studies' can productively inform the history of science, technology and medicine. In 2010, supported by the European Science Foundation, I was a visiting researcher at the Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture (University of Oslo). I have received invitations to speak to interdisciplinary audiences at world-class research centres including the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (2008), National Institutes of Health (USA, 2010), the Kennedy Institute of Ethics (USA, 2012), the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters (2016), NYU Shanghai (2017) and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University (2017).

External positions

Peer Review College, Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

1 Jan 2017 → …

Medical Humanities Early Career Researcher Expert Review Group , The Wellcome Trust

1 Nov 2016 → …


  • Centre for the History of Science Technology and Medicine CHSTM, Medical Humanities, Animal Studies, History

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