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Goldfarb Kathryn, Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Colorado, Boulder

photo of Kathryn Goldfarb

Kathryn Goldfarb

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Colorado, Boulder

Adjunct Faculty
Department of Anthropology


Research & Supervisory Interests

Two major questions motivate my research: what are the effects of social inclusion and exclusion on well-being, and how do social relationships shape bodily 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.

In Japan, my research focuses on the stakes of disconnection from family networks. I conduct ethnographic research at children's homes, with foster and adoptive families, and with networks of youth who grew up in state care, as well as research on infertility treatment. More broadly, I explore how kinship ideologies articulate with discourses of Japanese national and cultural identity, and how these discourses shape understandings of what is "normal." I further examine 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.

Teaching and research interests: kinship and relatedness; embodied experience; social determinants of health and well-being; semiotics; engaged anthropology; Japanese and East Asian studies; memory and trauma; mental health; anthropological studies of neurology and brain development; child welfare; anthropology of social work and social welfare.


PhD University of Chicago, 2012


Courses (2014-15)

Fall - Anthrop 3HI3 - The Anthropology of Health, Illness, and Healing
Fall - Anthrop 712 - Being and Belonging: The Family in Global Perspective

Winter - Anthrop 4D03 - Applied Anthropology

Courses (2013-14)

Fall - Anthrop 3HI3 - The Anthropology of Health, Illness and Healing

Winter - Anthrop 4B03 - Current Problems in Cultural Anthropology I - Neuro: The Anthropology of Brain Science
Winter - Anthrop 4D03 - Applied Anthropology



2013 “Between State and Family: Child Welfare in Contemporary 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.

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 dayori 89. [In Japanese]

2010a “Making the Oral Contraceptive ‘for Me’ in Japan: Managing the Semiotics of Reproductive Health in Virtual Space.” InLiberalizing, Feminizing and Popularizing Health Communications in Asia. K. K. Liew, ed., 129-148.  Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

2010b “The Violence of Blood Relationships: Lost and Found Kinship in Japan,” Japan Anthropology Workshop Newsletter 54: 51-54.