Kim Hopper, PhD

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Kim Hopper is a medical anthropologist who, for 25 years, worked as a research scientist for the NYC Office of Mental Health at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, where he co-directed the Center for the Study of Issues in Public Mental Health. From 2006 to 2016, he was also Visiting President's Professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He is author of Reckoning with Homelessness (Cornell University Press, 2003), a stocktaking of two decades of research, advocacy, and theoretical work, that was awarded the Anthony Award in Urban Anthropology. He is also co-editor of Recovery from Schizophrenia: An International Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2007), a report from the WHO collaborative study on the long-term course and outcome of schizophrenia. Since 1979, Hopper has done ethnographic and historical research on psychiatric care and on homelessness, chiefly in New York City. Active in homeless advocacy efforts since 1980, Hopper served as president of the National Coalition for the Homeless from 1991-1993, and teaches a seminar each spring in the Law School on current litigation and policy re homelessness. For the last 15 years, he has also taught in the Bard Prison Initiative. His present research interests include the fate of reforms in public mental health, terms and conditions of collaborative research, and prospects for reconciliation between ex-patients and their professional caretakers. Since the early months of the COVID pandemic, he has served as faculty advisor to the student-led CIPHER project at Mailman.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Clinical, Sociomedical Sciences
  • Adjunct Professor, School of Law

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • MPhil, 1975 Columbia University
  • PhD, 1987 Columbia University

Committees, Societies, Councils

George Foster Career Award in Practicing Medical Anthropology (2015)

Anthony Leeds Award in Urban Anthropology (2004)

Research Scientist Award, Office of Mental Health (1995)

Faculty, Bard Prison Initiative

Editorial Board, Community Mental Health Journal

Honors & Awards

Anthony Leeds Awards in Urban Anthropology, 2003

Finalist, C. Wright Mills Award, SSSP, 2003

Honorable Mention, Benjamin L. Hooks Institute, Book Award, 2003


Kim Hopper is a medical anthropologist who works as a Research Scientist at the Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, where he co-directs the Center for the Study of Issues in Public Mental Health. He also lectures at the Columbia University Schools of Public Health and Law. Since 1979, he has done ethnographic and historical research on psychiatric care and on homelessness, chiefly in New York City. Active in homeless advocacy efforts since 1980, he served as President of the National Coalition for the Homeless from 1991-1993. He is author of the forthcoming Reckoning with Homelessness (Cornell University Press), a stocktaking of two decades of research, advocacy and theoretical work in that field. His current research interests include the reconfiguration of public mental health (the so-called "de facto" system in place), long-term cross-cultural follow-up studies of psychotic disorder, modalities of coercion, and dimensions of recovery and support in severe mental illness.

Research Interests

  • Community Health
  • Mental health

Selected Publications

Hopper, K. Afterword: Out of practice, in Cubellis, L. and Lester, R. (eds.) Primary Care: Ethnographic Studies in the Ambiguous Imperatives of Caring. Durham: Duke University Press, forthcoming.

Hopper, K. Book Symposium Comment on Grohmann, S. Ethics of Space. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 2021.

Hopper, K., Van Tiem, J., Cubellis, I., Pope, L.G. Merging intentional peer support and dialogic practice: Implementation lessons from Parachute NYC. Psychiatric Services 71:199-201, 2020.

Lincoln, A., Adams, W., Eyllon, M., Garverich, S. Prener, C., Griffith, J. & Hopper, K. The double-stigma of limited literacy and mental illness: Examining barriers to recovery and participation among public mental health service users. Society and Mental Health 7:121-141, 2017.

Pope, L.G., Cubellis, L., Hopper, K. Signing on for dirty work: Taking stock of a public psychiatry project from the inside. Transcultural Psychiatry 53:506-526, 2016.

West, K.W., Hopkins, S.E., Hopper, K.J., Mohatt, G.V. and Boyer, B.B. Found in translation: Decoding local understandings of genetics and heredity in a Yup’ik Eskimo community. Public Understanding of Science 22: 80-90, 2013.

Hopper, K. Reframing early psychiatric crises: A capabilities-informed approach. Journal of Human Development, Disability, and Social Change 20(2): 23-39, 2012.

Hopper, K. Rethinking social recovery in schizophrenia: What a capabilities approach might offer. Social Science and Medicine 65: 868-879, 2007.

Hopper, K., Wanderling, J., and Narayanan, P. To have and to hold: A cross-cultural inquiry into marital prospects after psychosis. Global Public Health 2(3): 257-280, 2007.

Hopper, K. Redistribution and its discontents: On the prospects of committed work in public mental health and like settings. Human Organization 65: 218-226, 2006.

Global Health Activities

WHO-Collaborative International Study of Schizophrenia: Dr. Hopper was senior editor of the final collection of reports (Oxford 2007) on this long-term follow-up study of treated incidence cohorts of clinically defined schizophrenia in 14 communities across 10 countries.

Adolescent Narratives of Resilience in Circumpolar Communities: As President's Professor at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Hopper consulted on this narrative-based approach to adolescent passages in the Circumpolar North (NW and SW Alaska, Norway, Siberia, and Nunavit, Canada).

Urban Health Activities

Homelessness History + Present: For over four decades Hopper has been investigating the history, causes, and public response to homelessness, with particular emphasis on legal aspects and advocacy. He has written extensively on the requirements of scholarship and the courts with respect to evidence and its interpretation in formulating public policy, and continues to advise the New York Coalition for the Homeless on research issues.

Mental Health and Public Policy: As Research Scientist at the Nathan Kline Institute, Dr. Hopper co-directed the Center to Study Recovery in Social Contexts, which built a portfolio of CBPR-based research that attempted to apply Amartya Sen's "capabilities" approach to the practice of public mental health.

Field School in Social Research Method: Hopper co-founded this experimental school for mental health peers -- people with long experience in the public mental health system -- to become conversant with research methods so as to be better able to read and critique the literature, participate in collaborative research efforts, and undertake their own inquiries.