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Ann Kingsolver

B.A. in Anthropology & Sociology with Honors, Southwestern at Memphis (now Rhodes College), 1982; M.A. in Anthropology, U Mass. / Amherst, 1987; Ph.D. in Anthropology, U Mass. / Amherst, 1991. Dissertation: "Tobacco, Toyota, and Subaltern Development Discourses: Constructing Livelihoods and Community in Rural Kentucky."

My career came full circle when I moved back to Kentucky to direct the Appalachian Center and Appalachian Studies Program at UK from 2011-2015. I grew up in Nicholas County, Kentucky. In the 1980s, I returned to there to do ethnographic research for my dissertation in the Ph.D. program in Anthropology at U. Mass. / Amherst, where I was inspired by colleagues in a participatory research collective and by collective conversations at the intersections of political ecology, cultural geography, anthropology, and political economy. I continue to learn from residents in my home community along with residents of a number of other rural regions in the world. In the early 1990s, I participated in starting the Culture & Power Ph.D. program in Anthropology as a faculty member at UC Santa Cruz, and then in the late 1990s I helped start the Ph.D. program focused on comparative diasporas and social justice in Anthropology at the University of South Carolina (as a faculty member and then department chair), before coming to the University of Kentucky. In the fall of 2021, I have begun a four-year term as director of UK's Appalachian Studies Program, and look forward to supporting collaborative conversations across and beyond the UK campus. 

Research Interests:
critiques of racial capitalism
interpretations of place and identity
Anthropology of Work
transnational collaborations
university-community knowledge equity

As a cultural anthropologist, my topical focus is political anthropology and my ethnographic fieldwork has been primarily in the U.S., Mexico, Sri Lanka, and the U.K.. My work is informed by writings on political economy and power; interpretive approaches; and postcolonial, womanist, and participatory research perspectives, along with those I interview and the students I learn from in every class. I assume epistemological parity between those inside and outside academic contexts, and believe that everyone constructs, acts on, and reworks theories about social contexts all the time.

For over 30 years, I have been talking with people about how they make sense of the many events and processes glossed as “globalization” and act on those understandings to craft identities and livelihoods. This began with conversations in my hometown about imagined futures in relation to the changing global tobacco, textile, and auto industries and how the local activity of “placing” was used to situate not only people in social networks, histories, counterhistories, and landscapes, but also to situate ideas, power, and transnational decision-making. Related to that long-term project on interpretations of capitalist logic and practice, I have been interested in what gets articulated in the space opened by discussions of policies – free trade agreements and anti-immigrant legislation, for example – about cultural and market citizenship and racial capitalist bordering logics. I am especially interested in possibilities for people to communicate across different perspectives to find points of convergence in work toward economic, environmental, and social justice.

Cultural anthropology’s strongest contribution is engaged listening, I think, and I have listened to stories (and silences) situated widely across social, national, political, disciplinary, identity and occupational borders. My current research is focused on interpretations of foreign trade zones and jurisdictions of place in the U.S. as well as economic nationalism in global perspective.


In the spring semester of 2024, I am teaching Global Appalachia (ANT/APP 536), open to both undergraduate and graduate students and without prerequisites. 

I am accepting new MA students and postdoctoral scholars to advise, but am no longer accepting new doctoral advisees; I am happy to support students through service on thesis and dissertation committees. 

Selected Publications:


Global Mountain Regions: Conversations Toward the Future. Co-editor, with Sasikumar Balasundaram. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University   Press. 2018.

 Appalachia in Regional Context: Place Matters. Co-editor, with Dwight Billings. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky. 2018.

 The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Anthropology. Co-editor, with Simon Coleman and Susan B. Hyatt. NY: Routledge. 2017.

Tobacco Town Futures: Global Encounters in Rural Kentucky.  Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press. 2011.

The Gender of Globalization: Women Navigating Cultural and Economic Marginalities. Co-editor, with Nandini Gunewardena. Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research Press. 2007.

NAFTA Stories: Fears and Hopes in Mexico and the United States. Boulder, CO:  Lynne Rienner Publishers. 2001.

More than Class: Studying Power in U.S. Workplaces. Editor. Albany: SUNY Press Series in the Anthropology of Work. 1998.

Selected Articles and Chapters:

Sleights of hand: Free ports, bordering, and the racial capitalist roots of economic nationalist strategies in the US and the UK. Suomen Antropologi 47(1): 10-30. 2023. 

World anthropological perspectives on economic nationalisms. Ann E. Kingsolver, Annapurna Devi Pandey, Gustavo Onto, Chris C. Opesen, and Hannah Appel. Sociologia & Antropologia 12(2):1-32. 2022.

Dead or alive? Odishan and Appalachian mountains as partners in activism. Annapurna Devi Pandey and Ann Kingsolver. Sociological Bulletin 71(2): 232-54. 2022.

Ambiguous jurisdictions: Navigating US Foreign-Trade Zones as extraterritorial spaces. Culture, Theory and Critique (2021): 1-15.

Who's afraid of a living wage and a say for all?: Economic justice in Appalachia. Journal of Appalachian Studies 26(2): 156-172. 2020.

Economic nationalism in the U.S. and India: Comparing strategies and impact. Ann Kingsolver and Annapurna Devi Pandey. Economic and Political Weekly  LIV(23): 14-16. 2019.

Introduction: Listening to voices across global mountain regions. Ann Kingsolver and Sasikumar Balasundaram. In: Global Mountain Regions: Conversations Toward the Future. Ann Kingsolver and Sasikumar Balasundaram, eds., pp. 3-23. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 2018.

Comparing rural livelihood transitions in the Catalan and Sardinian regions of Europe and the Appalachian region of the United States. Domenica Farinella, Ann Kingsolver, Ismael Vaccaro, and Oriol Beltran. In: Global Mountain Regions: Conversations Toward the Future. Ann Kingsolver and Sasikumar Balasundaram, eds., pp. 285-294. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. 2018.

Introduction to an engaging discipline: The challenge of creating a companion to contemporary anthropology. Simon Coleman, Susan Brin Hyatt, and Ann Kingsolver. In: The Routledge Companion to Contemporary Anthropology. Simon Coleman, Susan Brin Hyatt, and Ann Kingsolver, eds., pp. 3-24. New York, NY: Routledge. 2017.

Ann Kingsolver, Manuel Boissiere, Michael Padmanaba, Ermayanti Sadjunin, and Sasikumar Balasundaram. Cultural and participatory mapping. In: Mapping Across Academia. S.D. Brunn and M. Dodge, eds. Pp. 305-322. Springer. 2017.

Zones of in/visibility: Commodification of rural unemployment in South Carolina. In: Anthropologies of Unemployment: New Perspectives on Work and its Absence. Jong Bum Kwon and Carrie M. Lane, eds. Pp. 187-212. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press (ILR). 2016.

Practical resources for critical science education in rural Appalachia. Cultural Studies of Science Education. August 2016: 1-7. doi:10.1007/s11422-016-9755-3.

When the smoke clears: Seeing beyond tobacco and other extractive industries in rural Appalachian Kentucky. In: The Anthropology of Postindustrialism: Ethnographies of Disconnection. Ismael Vicarro, Krista Harper, and Seth Murray, eds. Pp. 38-55. London: Routledge. 2016.

Farming the edges: Women’s natural resource management on small farms in eastern Kentucky. In: Gender, Livelihood and Environment: How Women Manage Resources. Subhadra Mitra Channa and Marilyn Porter, eds. Pp. 50-75. Delhi: Orient Blackswan. 2015.

The role of regional policy in reimagining the rural: Comparing contexts in Sardinia, Italy and Appalachia, U.S.A. Domenica Farinella and Ann Kingsolver. Proceedings of the European Society of Rural Sociology 2015: 43-44.

Applying anthropological practice through global engagement in the University of Kentucky Appalachian Center. Practicing Anthropology 36(4): 47-51. Fall 2014.

Everyday reconciliation. Invited essay. American Anthropologist 115(4): 663-666. December 2013.

A year in the life of cultural anthropology. Publication of invited lecture. Teaching Anthropology: SACC Notes 19(1&2): 44-49. September 2013.

Neoliberal governance and faith-based initiatives: Agentive cracks in the logic informing homeless sheltering in South Carolina’s capital. Rethinking Marxism 24(2): 202-214. April 2012.

Worker well-being: Uniting economic, environmental, and social justice concerns in the anthropology of work. Anthropology of Work Review 32(1): 2-3. July 2011.

Talk of `broken borders’ and stone walls: Anti-immigrant discourse and legislation from California to South Carolina. Southern Anthropologist 35(1): 21-40. 2010. [Republished as Chapter 11 in Reflecting on America: Anthropological Views of U.S. Culture, second edition. Clare L. Boulanger, ed., pp. 121-134. London: Routledge. 2016.]

Introduction: Researching living wage possibilities globally. Anthropology of Work Review 31(1): 2-3. 2010.

Living wage considerations in the right-to-work state of South Carolina. Anthropology of Work Review 31(1): 30-41. 2010.

`Like a frog in a well’: Young people’s views of the future expressed in two collaborative research projects in Sri Lanka. Human Organization 69(1): 1-9. 2010.

Ann Kingsolver and Sasikumar Balasundaram with Vijayakumar Sugumaran, Jennifer Engel, Timothy Gerber, Craig Spurrier, Colin Townsend, and Kristen Wolf. Collaborative research on food security in the U.S. and Sri Lanka. Practicing Anthropology 32(4): 24-28. 2010.

Learning from activist anthropologists’ praxis. New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry 2(2):73-77. 2009.

Walking with Amman: Young Malaiyaha Tamils’ views of their identity in practice. Ann Kingsolver and Sasikumar Balasundaram. In: New Demarcations: Essays in Tamil Studies. R. Cheran, Darshan Ambalavanar, and Chelva Kanaganayakam, eds. Pp. 31-42. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press. 2009.

`As we forgive our debtors’: Mexico’s El Barzón movement, bankruptcy policy in the U.S., and ethnography of neoliberal logic and practice. Rethinking Marxism 20(1):13-27. 2008. (Reprinted in English and in Greek in Re-Public: Imagining Democracy 10/8/2009.)

Capitalism. Encyclopedia of Race and Racism (volume 1). John Hartwell Moore, ed. Detroit, MI: Macmillan Reference USA. Pp. 268-271. 2008.

Farmers and farmworkers: Two centuries of strategic alterity in Kentucky’s tobacco fields. Critique of Anthropology 27(1):87-102. 2007.

Strategic alterity and silence in the promotion of California’s Proposition 187 and of the confederate battle flag in South Carolina. In: Silence: The Currency of Power. Maria-Luisa Achino-Loeb, ed. Pp. 73-91. New York: Berghahn Books. 2006.