Luke Eric Lassiter

Luke Eric LassiterDirector of the Graduate Humanities Program
Professor of Humanities and Anthropology

304-746-1923 /

Link to my collaborative ethnography page here.

I received my PhD in anthropology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1995.  I taught anthropology at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, until 2005 when I came to Marshall University.  As Director of Marshall’s Graduate Humanities Program I coordinate interdisciplinary graduate study in cultural, historical, literary, and Appalachian studies. I am jointly appointed in the College of Liberal Arts and the doctoral program of the College of Education and Professional Development, and direct graduate projects, theses, and dissertations, as well as teach a broad range of graduate seminars in the humanities, social sciences, and interdisciplinary research methods (including ethnography, qualitative and mixed methods research). My research interests include ethnographic theory and practice; reciprocal and collaborative research; social memory and oral history; race and ethnicity; folklore, ethnomusicology, and community aesthetics; belief and worldview; collaborative and community-based pedagogies.

In my early career, my research and writing focused on elaborating the relationships between community expressions (e.g., language, song, narrative) and larger systems of meaning (e.g., memory, belief, identity).  I did much of that work with Kiowa people in southwestern Oklahoma, who had an enormous influence on how I thought about doing new kinds of collaborative ethnography, an approach to ethnographic research that emphasizes how scholars and research participants/consultants can research and write together to advance multicultural understanding and social change.  When I was at Ball State, a series of collaborative research partnerships with African Americans in Muncie, Indiana (the site of the famous “Middletown” studies) prompted me to expand my thinking about how community partners, faculty, and—in particular—students can carry out collaborative research and writing projects in ways that foster collaborative and reciprocal learning.  One of the projects was the award-winning book The Other Side of Middletown, which a group of faculty, community members, and undergraduate students collaboratively conceptualized, researched, and wrote.  When I moved to Marshall, I turned my attention to doing this kind of collaborative research and writing with graduate students working in interdisciplinary contexts, and with a wide-range of community groups in southern West Virginia. Our recent book, I’m Afraid of that Water: A Collaborative Ethnography of a West Virginia Water Crisis (a Weatherford Award recipient) is an example of the kind of community-based, collaboratively engaged projects we do in this Program. I’ve spent much of my career reflecting on how this kind of research and writing can work with both undergraduate and graduate students (see, for example, here and here); but most recently, I’ve become increasingly interested in how collaborative modes of research and writing also engender collaborative modes of shared pedagogies where all parties (faculty, students, and community members) can be actively engaged in shared processes of teaching and learning from one another about difference.

Selected Awards and Honors

Margaret Mead Award, Society for Applied Anthropology and the American Anthropological Association (2005).
Distinguished Artists and Scholars Award, Marshall University (2007).
John & Frances Rucker Outstanding Graduate Advisor Award, Marshall University (2010).
Distinguished Artists and Scholars Team Award (with Brian Hoey), Marshall University (2019).
Weatherford Award, Best Non-fiction Book about Appalachia, I’m Afraid of that Water (2021).
Honorary Doctorate, Faculty of Education and Society, Malmö University (2023).
28th Distinguished Drinko Fellow, John Deaver Drinko Academy, Marshall University (2023-2025).

Books and Edited Volumes

The Power of Kiowa Song (University of Arizona Press, 1998).

The Jesus Road: Kiowas, Christianity, and Indian Hymns, with Clyde Ellis and Ralph Kotay (University of Nebraska Press, 2002).

Invitation to Anthropology, 1st – 4th edition (AltaMira Press / Rowman & Littlefield, 2002, 2006, 2009, 2014).

Signifying Serpents and Mardi Gras Runners: Representing Identity in Selected Souths, with Celeste Ray (U of Georgia Press, 2003).

The Other Side of Middletown: Exploring Muncie’s African American Community, with Hurley Goodall, Elizabeth Campbell, Michelle Natasya Johnson, and the students of the “Other Side of Middletown” Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry seminar (AltaMira Press, 2004). Recipient of the 2005 Margaret Mead Award.

Powwow: Ethnographic Texts, ed. with Clyde Ellis and Gary Dunham (U of Nebraska Press, 2005).

The Chicago Guide to Collaborative Ethnography (U of Chicago Press, 2005).

Explorations in Cultural Anthropology, ed. with Colleen Boyd (AltaMira Press, 2011).

Collaborative Anthropologies, ed., Vol. 1 – 6 (U of Nebraska Press, 2008, 2009 & [with Samuel R. Cook] 2010 – 2013).

Doing Ethnography Today, with Elizabeth Campbell (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015).

I’m Afraid of that Water: A Collaborative Ethnography of a West Virginia Water Crisis, with Brian Hoey, Elizabeth Campbell, and the Graduate Humanities Program faculty, students, and community research partners of the “Charleston Water Crisis” Graduate Humanities Program seminars (West Virginia U Press, 2020).  Recipient of the 2020 Weatherford Award.

The New Invitation to Anthropology, with Eric I. Karchmer and Dana E. Powell (Rowman & Littlefield, 2024).

Selected Articles and Essays

“We Keep What We Have by Giving it Away.”  Anthropology News 40(1):3, 7 (1999).

“‘Who Am I? I Am the One Who Sits in the Middle’: A Conversation with Billy Evans Horse, former Kiowa Tribal Chairman (1982-1986, 1994-1998).”  American Indian Quarterly 23(2):59-69 (1999).

“Authoritative Texts, Collaborative Ethnography, and Native American Studies.”  American Indian Quarterly 24(4):601-14 (2000).

“‘From Here On, I Will Be Praying to You’: Indian Churches, Kiowa Hymns, and Native American Christianity in Southwestern Oklahoma.”  Ethnomusicology 45(2):338-52 (2001).

“From ‘Reading Over the Shoulders of Natives’ to ‘Reading Alongside Natives’, Literally: Toward a Collaborative and Reciprocal Ethnography.”  Journal of Anthropological Research 57 (2):137-49 (2001).

“Kiowa: On Song and Memory.”  In Social Memory and History: Anthropological Perspectives, edited by Jacob Climo and Maria Cattell, pp. 131-41.  Lanham: AltaMira/Rowman & Littlefield (2002).

“The Muncie Race Riots of 1967, Representing Community Memory through Public Performance, and Collaborative Ethnography between Faculty, Students and the Local Community.”  Co-authored with Lee Papa [first author].  Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 32(2):147-66 (2003).

“Collaborative Ethnography.”  AnthroNotes 25(1):1-14 (2004).

“Music.”  In Companion to the Anthropology of American Indians, edited by Thomas Biolsi, pp. 196-211.  Oxford: Blackwell Publishers (2004).

“Kiowa Indian Hymns.” In Encyclopedia of American Indian Religious Traditions, edited by Suzanne J. Crawford and Dennis F. Kelley, 440-42.  Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO (2005).

“A Tribal Chair’s Perspective on Inherent Sovereignty.” Co-authored with Billy Evans Horse [first author]. In Sovereignty, Colonialism and the Future of the Indigenous Nations, edited by Robert Adawi Porter, 30-35.  Durham: Carolina Academic Pres (2005).

“Collaborative Ethnography and Public Anthropology” Current Anthropology 46(1):83-106 (2005).

“Kiowa Folklore.”  In Greenwood Encyclopedia of World Folklore and Folklife: Volume 4, North and South America, edited by William M. Clements, 60-67.  Westport: Greenwood Press (2006).

“Collaborative Ethnography Matters,” Anthropology News 47(5):20-21 (2006).

“On the Job: Applied Anthropology in a Graduate Humanities Program.”  Society for Applied Anthropology Newsletter 18(3):8-10 (2007).

“Moving Past Public Anthropology and Doing Collaborative Research.” In Careers in Applied Anthropology: Advice from Practitioners and Academics, edited by Carla Guerron-Montero.  National Association of Practicing Anthropologists, Bulletin 29, 70-86.  Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association (2008).

“American Indian Music.”  In The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, 994-95. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Historical Society (2009).

“Serious Fieldwork: On Re-functioning Ethnographic Pedagogies.” Co-authored with Elizabeth Campbell.  Anthropology News 51(6):4, 8 (2010).

“What Will We Have Ethnography Do?” Co-authored with Elizabeth Campbell. Qualitative Inquiry 16(9):757-67 (2010).

“From Collaborative Ethnography to Collaborative Pedagogy: Reflections on the Other Side of Middletown Project and Community-University Research Partnerships.” Co-authored with Elizabeth Campbell [first author]. Anthropology & Education Quarterly 41(4):370-85 (2010).

“’To Fill in the Missing Piece of the Middletown Puzzle’: Lessons from Re-studying Middletown.” Sociological Review 60:421-37 (2012).

“Rethinking our Pedagogies.” Comments on “The Undergraduate Ethnographic Field School as a Research Method.” Current Anthropology 55(5): 574-75 (2014).

Comments on “Co-Producing Efficacious Medicines: Collaborative Event Ethnography with Himalayan and Tibetan Sowa Rigpa Practitioners,” by Calum Blaikie, Sienna Craig, Barbara Gerke, and Theresia Hofer. Current Anthropology 56(2):197 (2015).

“Collaborative Ethnography in Context” (with Elizabeth Campbell [first author] and Kate Pahl [second author]), in Re-Imagining Contested Communities, edited by Elizabeth Campbell, Kate Pahl, , Elizabeth Pente, and Zanib Rasool, pp. 91-106.  Bristol, UK: Policy Press (2018).

“Ethnographic Engagement.”  International Encyclopedia of Anthropology, edited by Hillary Callan. Oxford: Wiley (2018).

“Collaborative Ethnography: What is It and How Can You Start Doing It?” in Building Research Design in Education: Theoretically Informed Advanced Methods, edited by Lorna Hamilton and John Ravenscroft, pp. 153-71.  London: Bloomsbury (2018).

“Collaborative Ethnography,” in SAGE Research Methods Foundations, edited by Paul Atkinson, Sara Delamont, Melissa Hardy, and Malcolm William (Sage, 2019).

“Community-University Partnerships and the Marshall University Major Scholar Seminar.” Practicing Anthropology 41(3):11-12 (2019).

“Foreword,” in Artistic Mentoring as a Decolonizing Methodology: An Evolving Collaborative Painting Ethnography with Maya Artists Pedro Rafael González Chavajay and Paula Nicho Cúmez, by Kryssi Staikidis, pp. xiv-xvii. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill (2020).

“Collaborative Ethnography: Trends, Developments, and Opportunities,” in Transforming Ethnomusicology: Methodologies, Institutional Structures and Policies, Vo1. 1, edited by Beverley Diamond  and Salwa El Shawan Castelo-Branco, pp. 59-72. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2021).

Selected Invited Lectures

“Teaching a Relevant and Public Anthropology.”  Department of Social Anthropology, Lund University, Sweden (2000).

“Hymns, History, and Experience: A Discussion of Collaborative Ethnography.” Co-presented with Clyde Ellis and Ralph Kotay, Native American Studies Program and the Department of Anthropology, Dartmouth College (2002).

“Kiowa Song and Collaborative Ethnography.” Southern Plains Lecture Series, University of Oklahoma, Norman (2005).

“Middletown, Collaboration, and Undergraduate Research.”  St. Mary’s College of Maryland (2005).

“Collaborative Research Methodologies.”  Keynote Address.  College of Education Spring Research Conference, Texas Tech University (2007).

“The Other Side of Middletown: Building Bridges Between Universities and Local Communities through Collaborative Ethnography.”  Elon University (2007).

“What Will We Have Ethnography Do?” Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2009).

“New Developments in Student Ethnography.”  Sewanee: University of the South (2009).

“Prospects for Collaborative Anthropologies.”  Department of Anthropology, Georgetown University (2010).

“’To Fill in the Missing Piece of the Middletown Puzzle’: Lessons from Re-studying Middletown,” School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham, England (2011).

“Collaborative (Participatory) Research in Anthropology: Concerning its Current Conditions and Future Trajectories,” Department of Anthropology, University of British Columbia (2011).

“Is Collaborative Ethnography Finished?” Department of Anthropology, University of Georgia, Athens (2012).

“Collaborative Anthropologies: Where to Next?” Department of Anthropology, Princeton University (2013).

“Collaborative Ethnography, Collaborative Research: Co-Imagining New Possibilities for Appalachian Studies” (with Elizabeth Campbell). Invited Plenary Lecture. Thirty-seventh Annual Appalachian Studies Conference (2014).

“Futures of Collaborative Ethnography (in/with African American Communities).”  Institute on Black Life and the Center for Africa and the Diaspora, University of South Florida (2014).

“Doing Ethnography Today.” Gehman Lecture, Department of Anthropology, University of Western Ontario (2014).

“Fields of Collaboration: On Collaborative Ethnography and Community-Based Research.” University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2015).

“Collaborative Ethnography: Recent Developments and Opportunities,” Invited Plenary, Joint International Forum of the International Council for Traditional Music and the Society for Ethnomusicology, University of Limerick, Ireland (2015).

“Collaborative Ethnography” (with Elizabeth Campbell).  United Kingdom National Centre for Research Methods Training, University of Edinburgh, Scotland (2015).

“The Charleston Water Crisis and Collaborative Ethnography.” Sewanee: University of the South (2017).

“The Glenwood Project, Charleston Slave Histories, and Community-University Research Partnerships.” The Dr. Carter G. Woodson Lyceum 2018 Black History Month.  Marshall University (2018).

“Collaborative Ethnography” (with Elizabeth Campbell). University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2019).

“Collaborative Complications: Shared Commitments, Competing Aims, and Ethical Exits in Collaborative Ethnographic Research” (with Elizabeth Campbell). Virtual presentation (during COVID-19 pandemic), Ohio Field School, Center for Folklore Studies, The Ohio State University (2021).

“Collaborative Ethnography: Contexts, Applications, and Outcomes” (with Elizabeth Campbell). Virtual Presentation, Glasgow School for Business and Society, Glasgow Caledonian University (Scotland) (2022).

“Tangled Convictions and Shared Uncertainties: What Can We Do with Collaborative Ethnography Today?” (with Elizabeth Campbell).  Malmö University (Sweden) (2023).