Charis Boke


Boke's ethnographic research is informed by her work as an engaged scholar and activist. As such, her approach to conducting research—as much as to teaching—is grounded in efforts to link theoretical content with practical engagement. As a community organizer she creates social-scientifically informed workshops on environmental health, anti-racist work, and herbal medicine-- practices through which she has built tools for scholarly public engagement.  Her current research project is focused on the intersections of environmental health, climate change, race, and class politics in the United States, rooted in participant-observation research conducted with community organizers and herbalists in New England.

In her dissertation, “Ecological Bodies: North American Practices of Care in a Changing Climate,” she explore herbalists’ efforts to envision new forms of care—with and for both plants and people—and the ethics they entail. This research builds on the work she did during a Fulbright grant in Nepal, which she discussed in her Masters' thesis completed at the University of Chicago. Her undergraduate training as a creative writer through the rigorous program at Mills College strengthened her understanding of the intimate link between being able to think critically and being able to communicate clearly. As such, she writes as a species of discovery, and understands the teaching and practice of writing to be central to the project of anthropological research.