Ann Kingsolver will lead Appalachian Studies Program at University of Kentucky

Rural studies expert Ann Kingsolver has been named director of the University of Kentucky's Appalachian Studies Program and its Appalachian Center, which will combine under her leadership.

Kingsolver, who will leave her post as chairwoman of the University of South Carolina's Department of Anthropology, grew up in Nicholas County. She is the sister of writer Barbara Kingsolver, author of The Poisonwood Bible and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.

Ann Kingsolver will hold a tenured appointment in UK's Department of Anthropology. She has performed ethnographic research — the social science of describing a group or culture — in Nicholas County for the past 25 years.

A UK news release described Kingsolver's work as a combination of Appalachian studies and cultural anthropology, with a focus on addressing inequalities.

Ann Kingsolver's most recent book is Tobacco Town Futures: Global Encounters in Rural Kentucky, which documents how Nicholas County residents have planned alternative futures for their community as the economic effect of textiles and tobacco wanes.

In February, Kingsolver visited Lexington to deliver a speech on globalization at the edge of Appalachia.

"Nicholas Countians have taught me a lot about why place matters in making sense of globalization," she said at the time. "In the context of the current economic crisis, for example, residents of Appalachia and other world regions that have been marginalized in some discourses may be at the forefront of global conversations about alternative ways to organize economies."

As a Fulbright Scholar, Kingsolver studied the tea industry in Sri Lanka, comparing it with the tobacco industry in Kentucky.

"As someone from Eastern Kentucky, I look forward to working collaboratively with members of the UK community and other communities across the state," she said.

Kingsolver's appointment begins July 1.

The previous director, Evelyn Knight, is stepping down from her administrative role to return to a faculty appointment in the College of Public Health.