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 A. Povinelli is Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Columbia University, where she has also been the Director of the Institute for Research on Women and Gender and the Co-Director of the Centre for the Study of Law and Culture. She is also Corresponding Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and a founding member of the Karrabing Film Collective. Povinelli's academic work has focused on developing a critical theory of settler late liberalism and its aftershocks, elaborated across eight monographs and numerous essays. 

Geontologies, A Requiem to Late Liberalism was the recipient of the 2017 Lionel Trilling Award. She has also explored similar thematics in a series of artworks shown in galleries and museums, including Prometeo Gallery, Milan, ar/ge gallery, Bolzano, the Biennale Gherdëina, and MADRE, Naples.  Her film, The Inheritance, made with Thomas Bartlett, premiered with Taxispalais, Innsbruck.  

A series of her drawings reimagining prehistory as a series of colonial sedimentations was part of the reopening of the Museo delle Civiltà, Rome, in 2022. With her Karrabing colleagues, Povinelli has also participated in eight award winning films, prizes of which include the 2015 Visible Award and the 2021 Eye Prize from the Eye Filmmuseum, Amsterdam.


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