My research explores how social inclusion and exclusion shape holistic well-being and embodied experience. I bring together three domains that generally are understood separately—kinship, medical anthropology, and semiotics—to examine how past and present social relationships are experienced in visceral, embodied terms. I consider myself an “engaged anthropologist,” and endeavor for my research to be both theoretically rigorous and relevant to my interlocutors.
In Japan, my research focuses on the stakes of disconnection from family networks. I conduct ethnographic research at child welfare institutions, with foster and adoptive families, and with networks of youth who grew up in state care. I have also conducted research on infertility treatment, which informs my thinking on the ways “blood ties” are understood in Japan. I examine 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. My thinking is informed by feminist studies of science and queer theory.
I am developing a new, transnational project exploring how psychotherapists, psychiatrists, social workers, and former state wards in Japan and North America theorize attachment and childhood interpersonal trauma. I am particularly interested in the ways that neuroscientific evidence is mobilized in the context of claims regarding early life adversity, development, and a person’s ability to make interpersonal connections. In the context of transnational knowledge translation and the circulation of psychiatric expertise, this project considers how ideologies about culture play into understandings of health and well-being, policy development, and service provision in Japan and North America.
(please contact me if you are interested in forthcoming or under review material):
- In preparation: 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.
Kathryn's Presentation on the "Underlying Conditions: 'Race,' Racism, and Health."