Dr Melanie White

Senior Lecturer
PhD (Carleton University) MA (Carleton University) BA (University of British Columbia)
School of Social Sciences


+61 (2) 9385 2304
+61 (2) 9385 1040
Room 162, Morven Brown
Kensington Campus
Fields: Political Theory and Political Philosophy, Social Theory, Citizenship, Sociology, Poststructuralism

Melanie White is Senior Lecturer in Social Theory.  She teaches in Sociology and Anthropology and has research interests in classical and contemporary social theory.  



Melanie White is Senior Lecturer in Social Theory.  She teaches in the Sociology and Anthropology program in the School of Social Sciences.  Her research interests are in classical and contemporary social theory. 

Melanie joined UNSW in 2010.  She has a BA from the University of British Columbia, and an MA and PhD from Carleton University. She was a Canada Research Chair Postdoctoral Fellow and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow (2002-2004) at York University (Toronto, Canada). She was visiting scholar in the Department of Political Science at The Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, USA), and held academic positions at Trent University and Carleton University before coming to Australia.

Research Areas:

Melanie’s current research concerns the place of the animal in the constitution of the discipline of sociology in 19C France. She has particular interest in the social theories of Emile Durkheim, Gabriel Tarde, Henri Bergson, Michel Foucault and Georges Canguilhem.  She is interested in the shifting relations between habits & creativity, error & uncertainty, and the transformation of the ordinary into the extraordinary.  She has published in high-ranking international journals such as Body & Society, Journal of Classical Sociology and Economy and SocietyHer book Bergson, Politics, and Religion co-edited with Alexandre Lefebvre (University of Sydney) is published with Duke University Press.


Current Research Projects

Bergson's Social and Political Thought
In collaboration with A/Prof Alexandre Lefebvre (University of Sydney), this project develops the political, social and religious philosophy of Henri Bergson, an early twentieth century French philosopher. 

The Animal Question in Society
This project considers how the opposition between human and animal shaped the origins of the discipline of sociology.


Recent Research Projects



2016, Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision Award, UNSW Arc Postgraduate Student Council

2015, Dean's Award for Teaching Excellence (General Category)


Areas of Postgraduate Research Supervision


Postgraduate Research Completions 

  • Na'ama Carlin, Written through blood: the moral complexities of Jewish ritual circumcision, (Primary Supervisor) Sociology, UNSW, Sydney, Australia, 2016
  • Catherine Tuey, Remainders of Loss:  Memorialization Beyond the Funeral (Joint Supervisor with Professor Alan Hunt), Sociology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, 2015
  • Daniel Braun, The Aesthetic Intensity of Superheroes:  An Autoethnographic Interpretation of Contemporary Superhero Popularity (Joint Supervisor with Professor Bruce Curtis), Sociology, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada, 2013

Current Postgraduate Research Supervision (Primary Supervisor)

  • Dita Svelte, Fashion, Wit, Magic, Sociology - UNSW (Primary Supervisor)
  • Megan Russell, Identity Play: Rethinking Subculture through a Study of Harajuku Kawaii Fashion - UNSW (Primary Supervisor) 
  • Roxarne Moon, Ontological Security and Social Forms - UNSW (Primary Supervisor) 
  • Joseph Alizzi, Anxious to Act -- Understanding the human condition and (re)locating individual action through the climate change debate - UNSW (Claudia Tazreiter, Primary Supervisor)
  • Jacqueline Dalziell - UNSW (Vicki Kirby, Primary Supervisor)
  • Jonathan Talbot - UNSW (Vicki Kirby, Primary Supervisor)


Honours Research Completions

  • Yvette Kiddle, Imitation to Educate Children:  What Happens to Liberty? (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW), 2016
  • Roxarne Moon, In Defence of Home (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW), TASA Best Honours Thesis Prize, 2015
  • Nicholas Langley, The Festival of Distraction: The Search for Community (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW), 2014
  • Rickie-Lee McLauren-Smith, Uprooting Apathy: Towards Environmental Ethics of Care (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW), 2014
  • Holi Birman, Stillness and Remembering the Self (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW)TASA Best Honours Thesis Prize, 2012
  • Paula Houseman, The Cancer Myth (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW), 2012
  • Na’ama Carlin, (W)riting the Body and the Circumcised Text (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW), Sol Encel Thesis Prize, 2010
  • Meagan Curtis, Thomas Kuhn as Evolutionary Epistemlogist (Interdisciplinary Studies, Carleton University), 2008

Current Honours Research Supervision

  • Ida Iannou-Marsh
  • Victoria Rae


Teaching Areas


Current Teaching

ARTS1870 Rethinking the Social (S1, 2017)

ARTS2871 Power and Powerlessness (S1, 2017)

ARTS2876 Understanding the Self (S2, 2017)


Affiliations and Membership

Member of the Biopolitical Research Network

Adjunct Research Professor, Carleton University, Department of Sociology & Anthropology




    Book Chapters

    • White MA, 2016, 'Sympathy and the Criminological Imagination', in Frauley J (ed.), C. Wright Mills and the Criminological Imagination Prospects for Creative Inquiry, Routledge, New York, pp. 147 - 161, https://www.book2look.com/embed/9781317170228
    • White MA, 2015, 'Sympathy and the Criminological Imagination', in Frauley, Jon (ed.), C. Wright Mills and the Criminological Imagination, Ashgate, Surrey, UK, pp. 147 - 161, http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781472414762
    • Lefebvre A;White M, 2012, 'Religion within the bounds of emotion alone: Bergson and kant', in Emotions Matter: A relations Approach to Emotions, pp. 102 - 123
    • Lefebvre A;White M, 2012, 'Bergson, Politics, and Religion', in Lefebvre A; White M (ed.), Bergson, Politics, and Religion, edn. Original, Duke University Press, Durham, pp. 1 - 21, http://www.dukeupress.edu/Catalog/ViewProduct.php?productid=47194&viewby=title
    • White M, 2008, 'Can an Act of Citizenship be Creative?', in Isin E; Nielsen G (ed.), Acts of Citizenship, edn. Original, Zed Books, London, pp. 44 - 56
    • White M, 1999, 'Neo-liberalism and the Rise of the Citizen as Consumer', in Broad D; Antony W (ed.), Citizens or Consumers? Social Policy in a Market Society, edn. Original, Fernwood Publishing, Halifax, Canada, pp. 56 - 64, http://www.fernwoodpublishing.ca/Citizens-or-Consumers-Wayne-Antony-Dave-Broad/

    Journal articles

    • White M, 2015, 'Bergson and Bergsonism: A Reply to Riggio', Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, vol. 4, pp. 40 - 44, http://social-epistemology.com/2015/06/19/bergson-and-bergsonism-a-reply-to-riggio-melanie-white/
    • White M, 2014, 'Derrida and durkheim on suffering', Sub-Stance, vol. 43, pp. 100 - 114, http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/sub.2014.0021
    • Walker C;White M, 2014, 'Police, design, plan and manage: developing a framework for integrating staff roles and institutional policies into a plagiarism prevention strategy', Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, vol. 36, pp. 674 - 687, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1360080X.2014.957895
    • White M, 2013, 'Habit as a Force of Life in Durkheim and Bergson', Body and Society, vol. 19, pp. 240 - 262, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1357034X13477161
    • White M, 2012, 'Review Essay: The Social After Gabriel Tarde', Journal of Cultural Economy, vol. 5, pp. 361 - 367
    • Lefebvre A;White M, 2010, 'Bergson on Durkheim: Society sui generis', Journal of Classical Sociology, vol. 10, pp. 457 - 477, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1468795X10385186
    • Lefebvre A;White M, 2010, 'Mary Wollstonecraft's civic perfectionism', Citizenship Studies, vol. 14, pp. 461 - 471, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13621025.2010.490040
    • Lefebvre A;White M, 2010, 'Bergson on durkheim: Society sui generis', Criminology and Criminal Justice, vol. 10, pp. 457 - 477
    • White M, 2006, 'An Ambivalent Civility', Canadian Journal of Sociology - Cahiers Canadiens de Sociologie, vol. 31, pp. 445 - 460
    • White M, 2006, 'The Dispositions of Good Citizenship: Character, Symbolic Power and Disinterest', Journal of Civil Society, vol. 2, pp. 111 - 122
    • White M, 2005, 'On the Recent Apocalyptic Tone Adopted in Canadian Sociology', Canadian Journal of Sociology - Cahiers Canadiens de Sociologie, vol. 30, pp. 537 - 544
    • White M, 2005, 'The Liberal Character of Ethological Governance', Economy and Society, vol. 34, pp. 475 - 493
    • White M;Hunt A, 2000, 'Citizenship: Care of the Self, Character and Personality', Citizenship Studies, vol. 4, pp. 93 - 116

Affiliations and membership

Member of the Biopolitical Research Network

Adjunct Research Professor, Carleton University, Department of Sociology & Anthropology