Research seminar: November 3, 2023

Community Partnerships and Anthropological Engagements: Pandemic Lessons for Local Health Equity Work

November 3, 2023

In this compelling presentation, Kristin Yarris, PhD, MPH, delves into the frontline experiences of community health engagement during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Her talk draws upon a wealth of data: a rapid survey of Spanish-speaking community members conducted at COVID testing and vaccination clinics (2020-2021) and a qualitative assessment of community-based organizations in 2022.

Through these lenses, Yarris offers profound insights for crafting community-engaged and equity-focused responses to future public health emergencies. Notably, she reflects on the complexities and tensions inherent in navigating her multiple roles as an engaged anthropologist, volunteer health worker, and collaborator with Lane County Public Health.

Her presentation serves as a powerful reminder of the critical role of community engagement in effective public health interventions.


Kristin Yarris, PhD, MPH, MA
Associate Professor
Global Studies and Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies
University of Oregon

Areas of Interest: Global health and global mental health; medical & psychiatric anthropology; transnational migration, migrants, and refugees; humanitarianism and solidarity; gender, care, and caregiving; Nicaragua, México, Latin America.

Kristin has two primary areas of research interest: transnational migration and global mental health.

An initial major research project explores the impacts of mother migration for families in migrant sending countries; particularly, this work examines the role of grandmothers as caregivers in Nicaraguan transnational families.

In her book, Care Across Generations: Solidarity and Sacrifice in Transnational Families (Stanford University Press, 2017), she shows how intergenerational caregiving not only reflects gendered and political-economic constraints but also generates strong ties of solidarity across borders and over time in the face of the uncertainty and disruption of transnational migration.

In a second major research project, funded by the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, she worked with colleagues at the Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa and the University of South Florida to study the impacts of transit migration through Mexico (Central American migration and forced return or deportation from the U.S.) for responses of the Mexican state, civil society, and local communities.

A third active research project, also in Mexico, is a study of psychiatry, culture, and care in shaping the illness experiences of people living with diagnoses of schizophrenia and other major mental health challenges. [This work emerges out of my involvement as a Faculty Mentor with the Latino Mental Health Research Training Program ] With UO graduate students, during the summer of 2017, we conducted interviews with local volunteers in refugee resettlement and immigrant integration networks in Oregon; this project examines local humanitarianism or how people are fostering welcoming communities in a hostile political era.

In a new, interdisciplinary collaboration, she is working with Mary Wood (UO English) and a team of undergraduates in the UO medical humanities research group to examine mid-20th century American psychiatry through a case study of the Morningside Hospital, which operated in Portland from 1903-1963.