PhD (Sydney)
Political science

Professor Gelber is a globally influential free speech scholar whose original contributions have changed the field.

Her original theory supports a robust, non-absolutist, defence of free speech. It permits a reconciliation between theoretical defences of free speech (which find it difficult to justify regulation viably) and regulatory practice (which routinely restricts speech). This work has developed since her 2002 book, Speaking Back, described in reviews as ‘ingenious’ and ‘innovative’, and in other works including her 2010 Contemporary Political Theory article. Her innovative normative framework has high-profile international recognition, eg Prof Rae Langton (Cambridge) 2015 Locke Lectures, Oxford. Second, she has shown how political culture affects free speech practice, eg Speech Matters 2011 UQ Press, described in reviews as ‘an adroit analysis’, ‘innovative’, ‘challenging’ and ‘penetrating’. Third, her comparative work has illuminated how polities with different forms and scope for free speech pursue the same policy outcomes, eg a review of 2016 book, Free Speech After 9/11, describes it as ‘worthy, unique and timely’ Fourth, her collaborations with globally leading free speech scholars (eg James Weinstein, Frederick Schauer) have significantly expanded international recognition of Australian scholarship.

Prof Gelber has been awarded over .4m in research funding from numerous sources, including an ARC Future Fellowship (2012-2015). She has received a community award in recognition of her contributions to free speech, and acted as an Australian Expert Witness for the United Nations.

She has led greater interaction between political science and law, by engaging with interdisciplinary puzzles, collaborating with legal scholars, and founding (with Prof H Irving) the Politics and Law Network. Her interdisciplinarity has facilitated inter alia understanding how free speech is affected by political culture (ARCDP0663077), and the effects of harmful speech on its targets (ARC DP1096721).

She is a past President of the Australian Political Studies Association and convenor of the 2018 World Congress of the International Political Studies Association.

2019 - current Head of School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland.

2013-current Professor, School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland.

2011-2012 Associate Professor, School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland.

2002-2010 Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences and International Studies, University of New South Wales.

2001 Lecturer, Government and International Relations, University of Sydney.

  • Australian Research Council Future Fellowship 2012-2015.
  • Visiting Scholar, Global Freedom of Expression Project, Columbia University, New York, November-December 2017.
  • Mayer Journal Article Prize 2014, with co-author Prof Luke McNamara, for best article published in the Australian Journal of Political Science in 2013.
  • PEN Keneally Award, November 2011, for community leadership in the promotion of freedom of expression
  • Finalist, Australian Human Rights Awards 2011 Literature (Non-fiction) for Speech Matters (UQ Press, 2011).
  • Academic Board member (elected), University of Queensland 2018-2020.
  • Australian Political Studies Association (member)
  • International Political Science Association (member)

Gelber, K & Brison S (eds) 2019 Free Speech in the Digital Age Oxford University Press, New York.

Gelber, K 2016 Free Speech After 9/11, Oxford University Press, Oxford

Gelber, K 2018 ‘Incitement to hatred and countering terrorism – policy confusion in the UK and Australia’, Parliamentary Affairs 71(1): 28-49.

Gelber, K 2017 'Diagonal Accountability: Freedom of Speech in Australia', Australian Journal of Human Rights 23(2): 203-219.

Gelber, K & McNamara, L 2016 ‘Evidencing the harms of hate speech’, Social Identities, 22 (1-3): 324-341 (doi: 10.1080/13504630.2015.1128810).

Gelber, K & McNamara, L 2015 ‘The effects of civil hate speech laws: lessons from Australia’, Law and Society Review 49(3): 631-664. (doi: 10.1111/lasr.12152).

Gelber, K 2012. ‘Political Culture, Flag Use and Freedom of Speech’, Political Studies, 60(1): 163-179.