Elizabeth A. Povinelli

Elizabeth A. Povinelli

Research Interests

Research Concentrations

Critical Theory, Settler Late Liberalism, Colonialism, Language and Semiotics, Politics and Aesthetics


Australia, United States


Elizabeth Povinelli is a critical theorist and filmmaker. Her critical writing has focused on developing a critical theory of late settler liberalism that would support an anthropology of the otherwise. This potential theory has unfolded across five books, numerous essays, and a thirty-five years of collaboration with her Indigenous colleagues in north Australia including, most recently, six films they have created as members of the Karrabing Film Collective.

Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism was the 2017 recipient of the Lionel Trilling Book Award and The Cunning of Recognition was a Art Forum Best Book of the Year.  

Karrabing films were awarded the 2015 Visible Award and the 2015 Cinema Nova Award Best Short Fiction Film, Melbourne International Film Festival and have shown internationally including in the Berlinale Forum Expanded, Sydney Biennale; MIFF, the Tate Modern, documenta-14, the Contour Biennale, and MoMA PS1.


Yale University, PhD in Anthropology, 1991
Yale University, MPhil in Anthropology, 1988
St. John's College, Santa Fe, BA in Philosophy and Mathematics, 1984

2021. The Inheritance. Durham: Duke University Press.

2019. “The Urban Intensions of Geontopower.” E-flux journal

2018. Coauthor with Tess Lea. “Karrabing: An Essay in Keywords.” Visual Anthropology Review 34, no. 1: 36-46.

2017. Coauthor with Angela Lewis, Cecilia Lewis, Joclyn MacDonald, Linda Yarrowin, and Sandra Yarrowin. “Australian Babel: A Conversation with Karrabing.” Specimen: The Babel Review of Translation.

2016. Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism. Durham: Duke University Press.

2011. Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism. Durham: Duke University Press.

2006. The Empire of Love: Toward a Theory of Intimacy, Genealogy, and Carnality. Durham: Duke University Press

2002. The Cunning of Recognition: Indigenous Alterities and the Making of Australian Multiculturalism. Durham: Duke University Press.

1994. Labor’s Lot: the Power, History, and Culture of Aboriginal Action. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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Courses Taught


Selected Publications