about

hi. i’m kathryn a. mariner.

please, call me kate.

i am a cultural anthropologist, additionally trained in clinical social work (NYS license #105112), and i study the relationship between intimacy and social inequality in the contemporary united states.

i grew up in rural oregon and moved to rochester in 2015, after extended pitstops in the bay area and chicago. i have a bachelor of arts in anthropological sciences from stanford university, and graduate degrees in anthropology and social service administration from the university of chicago. i sometimes make art at flower city arts center, and am partial to letterpress and bookbinding. i am totally a cat person. additionally, i am currently an assistant professor of anthropology and visual and cultural studies at the university of rochester, where i teach courses on race and kinship. (more professional and faculty-type stuff here).

another photo of me, by miguel a. cardona
photo by miguel a. cardona

my first research project was about transracial adoption in chicago. this social practice entailed moving children from predominantly black and low-income neighborhoods on the south and west sides of the city to predominantly white middle- and upper-class families often residing in the suburbs. i found that this form of adoption—through a process i termed “intimate speculation”—constituted a social practice in which high investment, observation and surveillance, and anxious anticipation converged in the construction of the black adoptable child as a potent and highly contingent imagined future.

i am on research leave for the 2019-2020 academic year in order to work on fertile ground. i think of myself as both a placemaker and a “space invader,” drawing on social theorist nirmal puwar’s investigation of “what happens when those bodies not expected to occupy certain places do so” (2004: 1). i strive to remain cognizant of this position as i navigate varied and complex structures of power, particularly within a discipline whose roots are unequivocally colonial.

eventually, to behold is to become beholden to.

jenny odell (2019: 145)