Beitbridge, South Africa Borderlands. Photo by author.

Circulations and The Social Life of Migration, In/equality, Space and Health

I have researched in Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America with diverse field-work in rural, remote areas of Zimbabwe-South Africa, in state schools in Finland, with homeless youth in the San Francisco Bay Area, at the borders of Tijuana-San Ysidro, among other multi-modal projects. My work has been generously supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Amgen Foundation, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Yale, UCLA and private donors.

I am an applied researcher with a clinical hat and I enjoy the methodological interpretive dance of daily interaction. In this dance, I empirically embed myself in the lifelines that underscore human existence, behavior, thought processes and productions of cultural, social, health, etc phenomena. The primary focus of my research is to find applied empiric solutions to pressing societal concerns such as in ameliorating in/equality, reducing stigma, improving health system access, delivery, etc.

Informal Circulations at the Limpopo River into South Africa from Zimbabwe in Beitbridge, Southern Africa. Photo by research assistant.

My current research focus investigates inclusive and sustainable societies, spaces, systems and economies with a particular focus on migration and social, spatial and health in/equality broadly. In my work, I employ multidisciplinary field training and mixed participatory methods including multi-modal, qualitative, quantitative, participatory and digital/big data.

Most recently, I have been performing field-work for the last three years in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mexico and the United States. This multi-sited field-work focuses on the comparative domains of global economic, health and spatial in/equality. As part of this work, I am writing a monograph entitled, BORDERS: Life on the Brink. I also have several published or forthcoming papers and other creative outputs.

These outputs include a collaborative participatory Photovoice monograph entitled, More than Lines, a paper entitled, To Make Society Uneven: Tracing the Life Lines of Infrastructure published in the proceeds of the American Ethnological Society conference at University of Texas, Austin, March 28, 2020, where I was selected to chair a session on Infrastructures, Inequality, and Independence.

A working paper entitled, Towards an Inclusive Society: What Does This Look Like? presented at University of Massachusetts, Amherst on October 4, 2019 where I chaired a session on social justice in anthropology, a working paper entitled, The Political Economy of Survival at Two Contested Borders: A Case Study of Southern Africa and North America, a pop-up art installation entitled Re/Imagining BORDERS at the 2019 AAA/CASCA annual meeting in Vancouver, Canada, among other outputs.

Re / Imagining BORDERS at the 2019 American Anthropological Association Annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Chi/Shona language with English subtitles.

Health Behavior in the US-Mexico Borderlands

In 2020-2021, I co-wrote a forthcoming paper as part of ongoing field-work on health seeking behavior and informal statuses of migrants circulating in liminal spaces of the US-Mexico borderlands. This article is entitled, Sick, Poor and Unequal: Migratory Health Seeking Behaviors and Barriers at the US-Mexico Borderlands.

Tijuana, México Informal Border Camps. Photo by Author.

Novel Applications of Visual Big Data and Machine Learning in Emerging Global Health Spaces

This line of inquiry focuses on developing novel health oriented applications for machine learning, neural networks and data visualization of targeted/emergent public and global health risks, concerns, trends, vulnerabilities and prevention/intervention strategies, particularly in health resource scarce settings.

The primary collaboration includes the development of a novel health education and behavior prevention/intervention curricular approach entitled “Halsa.” Halsa seeks to enhance and scale positive health seeking behaviors, statues and outcomes in health resource scarce populations globally. In addition, an adaption of Halsa entitled “Halsa Now” is being devloped. Halsa Now is a platformless natural language response neural network protocol, strategy and m/health back/font end UI program utilizing machine learning approaches in Python, TensorFlow and Matlab. Halsa and Halsa Now are being actively developed, utilized and piloted in preliminary experimental studies.

Secondarily, a project in rural Southern Africa in partnership with University of Witwatersrand, South Africa focuses on applying big data and machine learning strategies to develop protocols and applications that will automatically mine, analyze and contextualize global visual data from publicly, legally and sensitively available primary sources. Such big visual health data has highly impactful implications in academic, commercial and non-governmental contexts in potentially saving lives and enhancing health statuses, functioning and outcomes. This big visual data project broadly seeks to generate novel, intelligent, efficient and actionable empirical health insights to dynamically drive specific public, international and/or global health risks analysis, intelligence, threat inquiry, mitigation, triage and/or resolution strategy.

Photovoice 35mm in Beitbridge, South Africa Borderlands. Photo by Participant.

Multi-modal Ethnographies in Un/stable Places

I have lead several projects in resource scarce, conflict and/or un/stable font-line locations in 2014-2016 and 2017-2020 in the areas of participatory and multi-modal qualitative ethnography. This includes research from the perspective of the researched in the utilization of Photovoice, visual multi-modal focus groups/interviews, drawing/painting research, sensory data and additional multi/participatory medias/datas. The utilization and exploration of so called “gray data” and differential research methodologies is a keen research interest. This research has generated among other outputs the multi-author Photovoice monograph entitled, More than Lines, which details the daily social, health and economic lived experiences of Southern Africa’s busiest land border.

Excerpt from the monograph More than Lines. Photo and text by research participant.
Excerpt from the monograph More than Lines. Photo and text by research participant.

Global Health and Education System Inequality

My work has focused broadly on inequality/inequity, but especially in international education systems and other global state institutions. I performed related field-work in state institutions in Sweden, Finland and the United States in 2014-2017. Secondarily, during my psychotherapy training, my graduate work focused on psychopathology such as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and emotion and personality dis/regulation concerns especially as centered on (m)Health, digital, “last mile” and resource scarce settings. This work lead to the publication of the monograph, The Field Guide to ADHD, a number of paper talks such as Investigation of a Novel mHealth Behavioral Intervention Technology (BIT) for Improving Attention in Young Children presented at Stanford University School of Medicine in 2015 and a 2020 monograph in preparation entitled, ADHD Unwrapped: Really Easy and Effective ADHD Skills.

Figure from The Field Guide to ADHD illustrating regional diagnostic health inequality in the United States during 2003-2011.
Figure from The Field Guide to ADHD in Helsinki Region Finland Nature School.
Photo by Research Assistant.

Research in Relational and Conflict Psychotherapies

During 2017-2021, I wrote a forthcoming monograph in preparation entitled, You Can Be Happy Too, which introduces a constructed, holistic and general audience approach to relationship and dyadic psychotherapy. This multi-year clinical and scholarly project focuses on addressing and treating higher conflict relationship pathologies such as Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). The text centers around three emergent themes in relationship psychotherapy including boundaries, validation and authenticity. The text includes numerous visual figures and has been written for the general audience in flash non-fiction format but has empirical relevancy for academic, clinical and other stakeholder audiences.

Figure from You Can Be Happy Too by Blake Harding.

I have several forthcoming papers, monographs and other creative and scholarly outputs in progress, complete or in revise/re-submit stages, but you can read my book The Field Guide to ADHD here.

Areas of Expertise


Global health Systems, Economies and Policies, Economic and Social Development in Southern Africa and North America, Medical and Socio/cultural Anthropology, Disparities / Inequalities, Social Studies of Medicine, Global Affairs


Psychotherapy, Participatory and Multi-modal Research Methods, Social Theory, Development Macro-economics, Health and the Built Environment, Biomedical Sciences

© 2021 Blake Harding . Powered by WordPress. Theme by Viva Themes.