Kimbra Smith, Ph.D.

Kimbra Smith, Ph.D.

Kimbra Smith, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Associate Dean, LAS
COLU 2025B


Dr. Kimbra Smith (PhD University of Chicago 2001; AB Princeton University 1992) is a cultural anthropologist with longstanding interests in both archaeology and applied anthropology. She has been conducting research in Ecuador and Peru since 1991, and currently works primarily with coastal Ecuadorian indigenous communities. Dr. Smith's research looks at the complex processes of producing collective memory and developing strategies that enable communities to negotiate around and within oppressive political and economic systems. Her research interests include the anthropology of (local) knowledge and the production of authority; the interrelations of history, memory, representation, and power; and the implications of performance, constructions of interpracticality, and interpretive drift for practice theory.

Her theoretical research to date has considered the politics of cultural production and political uses of archaeology in the Andes; the production of racialized geographies in Ecuador; the politics of value and the concept of authenticity; and fluidity and the creation of fields of interactive practice as indigenous methodologies of decolonization. Dr. Smith's ongoing applied projects include a community-based initiative to produce alternative pedagogies for rural indigenous schools in Ecuador, development of local applied community theatre projects, and initiatives increasing access to and knowledge of labor rights for immigrant workers within the U.S. She also organized an international conference (2004) that brought together researchers, artisans, and indigenous community members from northern Peru and southern Ecuador for the first time.

Her first book, Practically Invisible: Coastal Ecuador and the Politics of Authenticity, is forthcoming from Vanderbilt University Press. In January 2015, she will begin research in Barcelona, Spain, on the potential for applied community theatre to reveal shared experience and enhance empathy among participants from different backgrounds.


  • ANTH 3430 Anthropological Approaches to Globalization
  • ANTH 3440 Anthropology of Latin America
  • ANTH 3630 Field Experience in Applied Anthropology
  • ANTH 3660 Applied Community Studie
  • ANTH 3970 History and Theory of Anthropology