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 at the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW Sydney.  Melanie is also Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University, Canada.

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 appointments at Trent University and Carleton University before coming to Australia.



Melanie White is Senior Lecturer in Social Theory at the School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW Sydney. 

Melanie is also Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.

Melanie's research is in the fields of classical and contemporary social theory.  Her primary research concerns the broad question of what it means to be social. 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 questions about the relations between habits & creativity, error & uncertainty, and the way that the ordinary becomes extraordinary.  She also enjoys rediscovering lost and forgotten thinkers and considering how they contribute to contemporary debates.  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.




    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
    • 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


Teaching Areas

Classical and Contemporary Social Theory


Current Teaching

ARTS1870 Rethinking the Social (S1, 2018)

ARTS2871 Power and Powerlessness (S1, 2018)

ARTS2876 Understanding the Self (S2, 2018)


Current Postgraduate Research Supervision

  • Dita Svelte (PhD Social Sciences, Sociology) Fashion, Wit, Magic, Sociology - UNSW (Primary Supervisor)

  • Megan Russell (PhD Social Sciences, Sociology) Affirmation and Affect: A Sociological Account of Kawaii Fashion Communities - UNSW (Primary Supervisor) 

  • Roxarne Moon (PhD Social Sciences, Sociology) Ontological Security and Social Forms - UNSW (Primary Supervisor) 

  • Joseph Alizzi (PhD Social Sciences, Sociology) Anxious to Act - Understanding the human condition and (re)locating individual action through the climate change debate - UNSW (Secondary Supervisor) 

  • Jacqueline Dalziell (PhD Social Sciences, Sociology) UNSW (Primary Supervisor with Prof. Vicki Kirby)

  • Jonathan Talbot (PhD Social Sciences, Sociology) UNSW (Primary Supervisor with Prof. Vicki Kirby)

  • Roberta Pala (PhD Humanities & Languages) Vaccines as Biopolitical Interventions - UNSW (Scientia Scholarship Project, Secondary Supervisor - Career Mentor)

  • Mary Cantrill (PhD Social Sciences, Social Work) The Family Experience:  Child and adolescent acute mental illness and the first hospitalisation - UNSW (Joint Supervisor)

  • Chelsea Van Deventer (PhD Social Sciences, Anthropology) How do different disciplines use language/terminology differently? - UNSW (Primary Supervisor with Prof. Vicki Kirby)


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

  • Will Johncock, The corporeal conditions of time and social synchronisation (Co-supervisor) Sociology, UNSW, Sydney, Australia, 2014

  • 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


Honours Supervision (Completed Projects)

  • Ida Iannou-Marsh, Political Purity and Innate Politics (Sociology and Anthropology, UNSW), 2017 
  • Victoria Rae, Where have all the experts gone?  A sociological consideration of post-truth and non-traditional news outlets (Sociology & Anthropology, UNSW), 2017

  • 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


Honours and prizes

2017    Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence (General Category), UNSW Sydney

2016    Excellence in Postgraduate Research Supervision Award, ARC Postgraduate Student Council, UNSW Student Life and Dean of Graduate Research School, UNSW Sydney 

2015    Dean's Award for Teaching Excellence (General Category), Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UNSW Sydney

2006    Nominated, Symons Award for Excellence in Teaching, Trent University, Canada

2002    Teaching Excellence Award, Carleton University Students' Association, Carleton University, Canada


Affiliations and membership

Member of the Biopolitical Research Network

Member de la Société des amis de Bergson

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