Christopher Watkin

  • Associate Professor, French Studies, at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.


Chris has written extensively on modern and contemporary European thought, atheism, and the relationship between the Bible and philosophy. He believes passionately in bringing the Bible into conversation with modern and contemporary secular thought, under the banner of audi alteram partem (listen to the other side). His books on the relationship between the Bible and philosophy include "Biblical Critical Theory", "Thinking Through Creation: Genesis 1 and 2 as Tools of Cultural Critique", and volumes on Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze (forthcoming) in the P&R ‘Great Thinkers’ series. Chris also curates, a site with resources, seminars and book excerpts aimed at helping Christian university students and faculty to think biblically about life and work. The site is guided by the principle that a full-orbed contemporary articulation of Christianity must not only explain the Bible to the culture. It must also explain the culture through the Bible. Chris also blogs about philosophy and academic research work at You can find him on Twitter @DrChrisWatkin.  

Academic biography

Research topics

Emancipation and identity. I am looking at how the West’s “emancipation narrative” (the idea that we find our identity in being progressively freed from historic constraints) makes it hard for us to come to terms with climate change and new surveillance technologies.

Concepts of freedom. I am critiquing how traditional taxonomies of freedom (positive/negative liberty, non-frustration/non-interference/non-domination) fail to account for the “collateral damage” caused by increased freedom. My thesis, in a nutshell, is that an increase in freedom in one area or for one person/group always necessitates a reduction of freedom elsewhere.

The social contract. I am just beginning a project looking at how the social contract (the implicit agreement according to which we each give up some of our natural freedoms in order to live together in society) is under great strain in Western societies (primarily Australia, the UK, France, Germany and the USA) at the moment. The project has a theoretical side, examining versions of contemporary social contract theory, and an empirical side, understanding how the use of social contract language in the media and online can act as a barometer for understanding societal tensions. 

Theology and contemporary social theory. I am currently finishing a book on how the doctrines of sin and judgment provide a platform, as part of a biblical theological approach, for a winsome, humble, constructive and genuinely distinctive Christian contribution to the great social and intellectual debates of our day.

Contributions to

Flourishing / Humanities (Preview Response)
Discipline(s): Humanities
Theology: Flourishing

Justice / Humanities (Preview Response)
Discipline(s): Humanities
Theology: Justice