Barbara Herr Harthorn

Professor Emeriti

Contact Phone

(805) 893-3350


Gender, race, and health inequalities,Science & New Technologies



Areas of Study:

  • gender, race, and health inequalities
  • social construction of risk
  • science and new technologies
  • geographies of inequality

Barbara Herr Harthorn, Professor of Anthropology, Sociology, and Feminist Studies at UCSB, is also Principal Investigator and Director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society (CNS-UCSB), a National Science Foundation-funded national center. In the CNS-UCSB she leads Interdisciplinary Research Group 3, which focuses on public, expert and media views on nanotechnologies' risks. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the new NSF/EPA UC Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (UC CEIN). In the UC CEIN she leads Interdisciplinary Research Group 7, which conducts research on nanomaterials and Environmental Risk Perception. Her research broadly examines culture and health, health inequality, and technological risk and perception. Her current work in the CNS-UCSB examines nanotechnological risk perception among both experts and diverse US and comparative UK publics. In particular she is studying the intersections of socially constructed risk and perceptions of vulnerability and harm with gender, ethnicity/race, and other categories of difference.

She has conducted cross-cultural research on gender and inequality in East Africa, Melanesia and Polynesia, and Latina/o farmworker communities in California, as well as expert studies of primary care physicians and nanoscale scientists and engineers in the US. Her work is published in a variety of social science, medical care, public health, environmental science and technology, technology and society, and nanoscience journals. She is editor (with Laury Oaks) of Risk, Culture, and Health Inequality: Shifting Perceptions of Danger and Blame (2003). She received a doctorate in medical anthropology and transcultural psychiatry from UCLA and a bachelor's degree in anthropology from Bryn Mawr College; she completed postdoctoral research in social psychology at UCSB.

In Feminist Studies, she taught Feminist Research Methodologies (182) and Gender, Science, and New Technologies (186/132), and Feminist Studies Graduate Research Seminar (280). For the CNS, she leads a seminar every quarter (Soc. 591 BH) on societal implications of new technology.