I am a cultural and medical anthropologist. My research focuses on the ways social relationships impact embodied experience, intersections between public policy and well-being, and the co-production of scientific knowledge and subjective experiences, including narrative creation.
My first book project (Fragile Kinships: Child Welfare and Well-Being in Japan, under review) explored how social inclusion and exclusion shape holistic well-being. I conducted longitudinal ethnographic fieldwork with people connected to the Japanese child welfare system, examining the stakes of family disconnection in a country where the family is considered the basic social unit. This project investigated how kinship ideologies articulate with discourses of Japanese national and cultural identity, how these discourses shape understandings of what is “normal,” and how these concepts of normalcy are caught up in global circuits of knowledge surrounding human development, child rights, and concepts of “care” under the rubric of social welfare. This project’s analytical frameworks are shaped by kinship theory, medical anthropology, semiotics, feminist studies of science, and queer theory, investigating how past and present social relationships are experienced in visceral, embodied terms.
A new project, Knowing Air, takes the creation of and engagement with atmospheric data as a social field to study ethnographically. Knowing Air works to understand how shifting environmental factors—including increased wildfire activity and the COVID-19 pandemic—impact the ways people engage with air quality data (quantitative air quality indices and qualitative, sensory, story-based information) including measures of “invisible” pollutants such as ozone. Focused on the Front Range of Colorado, and specifically Boulder County, this project explores how principles of environmental justice might be served by framing air quality as a problem of equity outside of industrial pollution corridors. Project collaborators span disciplines in academia (anthropology, mechanical engineering, and law) and incorporate industry, city government, and community organizations.
I am privileged to collaborate with the Louisville Historical Museum on their Marshall Fire Story Project to support the collection and archiving of community experiences surrounding the devastating December 30, 2021 fire in Boulder County. I am also the Principal Investigator, with co-PI Arielle Milkman and CIRES/NOAA collaborators Owen Cooper and Audrey Gaudel, on a collaborative project funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/ National Weather Service project in Applied Meteorological Research, “Smoke Exposure and Underserved Wildland Fire Communities.”
(please contact me if you are interested in forthcoming or under review material):
- Under review: Fragile Kinships: Child Welfare and Well-being in Japan (book manuscript)
- In preparation: “Anonymity, Ancestry, and Family Registry: Adoption Debates in Contemporary Japan.”
- 2021. Goldfarb, Kathryn E. Parental Rights and the Temporality of Attachment: Law, Kinship, and Child Welfare in Japan. positions: asia critique 1 August 2021; 29 (3): 469–493.
- 2020 Goldfarb, Kathryn E. and Janet Carsten. “The 25th Anniversary of "The Substance of Kinship and the Heat of the Hearth: Feeding, Personhood, and Relatedness among Malays in Pulau Langkawi’.” American Ethnologist website, 4 October 2020
- 2020 “Dear COVIDiaries: Freewriting as Pandemic Pedagogy.” In “Pandemic Diaries,” Gabriela Manley, Bryan M. Dougan, and Carole McGranahan, eds., American Ethnologist website, May 16.
- 2020 “Relationships that Matter: Embodying Absent Kinships in the Japanese Child Welfare System.” In Handbook of Medical Humanities, ed. Alan Bleakley. London: Routledge, pp. 282-289.
- 2019 “Embodied relationality beyond ‘nature’ vs ‘nurture’: Materializing absent kinships in Japanese child welfare.” In The Cambridge Handbook for the Anthropology of Kinship, ed. S. Bamford. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.153-178.
- 2019 “Beyond blood ties: Intimate kinships in Japanese foster and adoptive care.” In Intimate Japan, ed. A. Alexy and E. Cook. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, pp. 181-198.
- 2017 “Food, Affect, and Experiments in Care: Constituting a ‘Household-like’ Child Welfare Institution in Japan.” In Child’s Play: Multi-sensory Histories of Children and Childhood in Japan, ed. S. Frühstück and A. Walthall. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp243-263.
- 2017 Plasticity and Pathology: On the Formation of the Neural Subject. David Bates Nima Bassiri, New York: Fordham University Press, 2016, 368pp. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 31(1): NA. doi:10.1111/maq.12318
- 2016 “Family at the margins: State, welfare, and well-being in Japan.” “Editor’s introduction” for special issue. Japanese Studies36(2): 151-154.
- 2016 “‘Self-Responsibility’ and the Politics of Chance: Theorizing the Experience of Japanese Child Welfare.”Japanese Studies36(2): 173-189.
- 2016 “Editor’s introduction” (with Caroline Schuster) for special issue, “(De)materializing kinship: Holding together mutuality and difference.” Social Analysis60(2): 1-12.
- 2016 “‘Coming to look alike’: Materializing affinity in Japanese foster and adoptive care.” Social Analysis60(2): 47-64.
- 2016 “Futures Past: Absent Kinships and the Japanese Child Welfare System.” Blog post for Anthropology of Children and Youth and Anthropology of Aging collaborative research network on life course, Apr. 27
- 2015 “Developmental logics: Brain science, child welfare, and the ethics of engagement in Japan.” Social Science & Medicine143:271-278.
- 2015 The Japanese Family: Touch, Intimacy and Feeling. Social Science Japan Journal. (Book review.) doi: 10.1093/ssjj/jyv023
- 2014 “Anne Allison’s Precarious Japan.” Somatosphere.net, May 29. (Book review.)
- 2013 “Japan.” In Child Protection and Child Welfare: A Global Appraisal of Cultures, Policy and Practice. Penelope Welbourne and John Dixon, eds. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 144-169.
- 2011 “‘Katei-teki yōgo’ ka ‘katei de no yōgo’ ka: Nihon no satooya seido ni okeru bunkateki sokumen ni tsuite” (‘Household-style care’ or ‘Care in a household’? Cultural factors shaping the Japanese foster care system), Satooya dayori89. [In Japanese]
- 2010 “Making the oral contraceptive ‘for me’ in Japan: Managing the semiotics of reproductive health in virtual space.” In Liberalizing, Feminizing and Popularizing Health Communications in Asia. K. K. Liew, ed. Farnham, England: Ashgate, 129-48.
- 2010 “The Violence of Blood Relationships: Lost and Found Kinship in Japan,” Japan Anthropology Workshop Newsletter 54: 51-54.
Graduate Studies Information
- Social studies of science (environmental science, neuroscience, mental health)
- Welfare and well-being, embodiment
- Kinship and relatedness
- Japan/ East Asia
- Collaborative and interdisciplinary research
Kathryn's Presentation on the "Underlying Conditions: 'Race,' Racism, and Health."