Kim Fortun

Contact Information

Social and Behavioral Sciences Gateway (SBSG) room 3302
Mail to:
UCI Department of Anthropology
3151 Social Science Plaza A
Irvine, CA 92697-5100

(949) 824-0646

Kim Fortun, professor and department chair in anthropology, studies environmental risk and disaster. She uses experimental ethnographic methods to understand how people in different geographic regions and organizations deal with environmental problems, health risks and major disasters. She’s particularly focused on industrial disasters – chemical plant explosions and massive breakdown of industrial systems. Her fieldwork has spanned highly populated regions in India and the United States where she’s focused on both catastrophic disasters and more recently on slower moving disasters, including air pollution. Through research, she’s found that that air pollution - recognized as a major killer of people worldwide - has reached catastrophic proportions in India and is responsible for a growing number of health concerns.
Together with her husband and anthropology associate professor Michael Fortun, they’ve found that scientific research on the sources and health impacts of air pollution has consolidated impressively in recent decades, showing that air pollution is not only responsible for a host of respiratory ailments, but may also contribute to conditions like Alzheimer’s and diabetes.  New understanding of the significance of air pollution has also transformed approaches to public health, challenging governments at municipal, state, regional and national levels as well as organizations like the World Health Organization.
Synergystic Activities

  • Editorial Board Member, Political and Legal Anthropology Review (2005-present)
  • Society for Cultural Anthropology Task Force on Open Access (2011)
  • Committee Member, Section Assembly Advisory Board to American Anthropology Association's Committee on the future of Print and Electronic Publishing (CFPEP) (2011)
  • Board Member, Society of Cultural Anthropology (2006-2009)
Research Interests: 

Environmental problems and disaster, air pollution, history of environmental science and public health, interdisciplinary and international scientific collaboration, India, United States