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Dr. Kaitlin Zapel

Research Interests:
cultural anthropology
economic anthropology
Indigenous Peoples
Anthropology of craft

Katie to those who know me, I obtained my B.A. in Human Relations (an interdisciplinary major consisting of Anthropology, Sociology, and Psychology), with minors in Anthropology, Spanish, and International Studies, from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford in 2012. As one of three children of a single mom, I grew up in a household where everyone pitched in to accomplish what was necessary, stoking a personal interest in gendered labor. As a child, my grandpa shaped my love of history/anthropology, my mom encouraged my yearning to travel, my community taught me generosity, and all of these united in my dissertation project studying gendered labor in a small, indigenous community in Ecuador. The idea for my project originated during my first trip to Ecuador in 2009 as an undergraduate research assistant, but it feels like the culmination of a lifetime of experiences.

My research interests include gendered labor and craft production as part of cottage-style economies among the Otavaleños, an indigenous group of weavers in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador. In this region, households function as units of production, with tasks broken down along gender lines. Typically, women are considered secondary workers and do not weave the textiles that make Otavalans famous; however, they are generally responsible for selling these textiles in the market, since sales are considered to be social interactions. Increasingly, young, married women are traveling abroad with their husbands because of their supposed talents at making sales. Thus, women’s roles and the value of their market knowledge are of particular interest. Much has been written about gender in the Andes, specifically analyzing the presentation of indigeneity among women. In short, I am interested in the gendering of tasks, especially how women’s roles are determined, and the political economy of crafts. My research takes an economic anthropology approach to look at the marketing of identity.

Ph.D. in Anthropology, University of Kentucky, May 2022
M.A. in Anthropology, University of Kentucky, August 2016
B.A. in Human Relations (Interdisciplinary Major: Anthropology, Sociology, and Pyschology), University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, April 2012
Assistantships and Grants
2018            The Odear Award for Graduate Student Research in Latin America, University of Kentucky
2018            Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies Program’s Travel Grants for Research, University of Kentucky
2018            Adelski Dissertation Research Award, University of Kentucky 
2017            Philo & Sarah Blaisdell Foundation Research Grant, Bradford, PA 
2016            Teaching Assistantship, Spring, Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Kentucky
2015            Teaching Assistantship, Fall, Department of Anthropology, University of Kentucky 
2014-2015  Teaching Assistantship, Department of Anthropology, University of Kentucky 
Teaching Experience
Primary Instructor - University of Pittsburgh at Bradford
Ecological Anthropology
Ethnic and Tourist Arts (Anthropology)
Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
Introduction to Sociology
Political Anthropology
Poverty and Society (Cross-listed: Anthropology and Economics)
Religion and Culture (Anthropology)
Teaching Assistant - University of Kentucky
Cultural Diversity in the Modern World (Anthropology)
Introduction to Anthropology
People and Cultures of Africa (Anthropology – Online)
Sex and Power (Gender and Women’s Studies)
Grader - University of Kentucky 
Introduction to Anthropology
Service to Profession
2020-2021     Anthropology Graduate Student Fieldwork Committee, University of Kentucky
2019, 2020    Backpack to Briefcase, Networking Luncheon Alumni Mentor, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford
2019               Women’s History Month Planning Committee Member, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford
2014-2016    Dimensions of Political Ecology (DOPE) Organizer, Political Ecology Working Group, University of Kentucky
2014-2015    Chair of the Distinguished Lecture Series (DLS) Committee, Anthropology Department, University of Kentucky
Select Conference Activity and Invited Talks
2021      “Telling Cultural Stories though Textiles,” Virtual Workshop, One World Cultural Festival, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
2021      “Secrets of Graduate School Success,” Virtual Workshop with Dr. Liz Tillman, From Backpack to Briefcase, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
2020      “Challenges Women Face in the Workforce and How to Deal with Them,” Workshop, From Backpack to Briefcase, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
2019      Invited Talk: “Andean Textiles: Traditions and Changes,” Enchanted Mountain Weavers Guild.
2018      “Otavalan WomenWeavers: Rethinking Gendered Labor and Crafts in Ecuador,” Poster Presentation, the Society for Economic Anthropology 2018 Annual Meeting.
2018      “Indigenous Artisans: Stewards of Nature; Mestizo Artisans: Eco-Friendly Entrepreneurs,” Oral Presentation, the Dimensions of Political Ecology 2018 Conference.
2018      Dimensions of Political Ecology Session Organizer and Co-Chair for “Crossing Fields & Sparking Interest with Art:Sci” with Karen Stevens (University of Kentucky).