Katherine C. Zubko, Ph.D.

NEH Distinguished Professor in the Humanities, Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Contact Information

  • kzubko@unca.edu
  • 828-350-4560
  • 139 Zageir Hall

Office Hours

  • Monday 3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
  • Wednesday 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Note: Or by appointment.

UNC Asheville continues to be a wonderful academic home for all my professional commitments due to its teaching-focused mission and interdisciplinary approach. I was trained in a wide variety of methods within the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University, namely Sanskrit aesthetics and ethnographic fieldwork, in addition to comparative and embodied forms of analysis. As a dance anthropologist, my primary research focuses on a traditionally Hindu storytelling dance tradition that has been adapted to tell stories from Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and Jain traditions. My most recent work examines the incorporation of social and environmental themes, including works that explore refugee experiences, discrimination based on gender and/or sexuality, pollution of earthy elements, and human conflict within this performance genre.

A complementary research area of interest is in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). I not only love to teach, I also want to create spaces for others to discuss, present and publish what they have discovered in the classroom that enhances student learning. In particular, I am invested in highlighting what teaching strategies allows all students to be seen, heard and invited to participate in the learning communities that we create on campus. As the newly appointed NEH Professor in the Humanities, I will be facilitating two faculty working groups, the first on SoTL projects connected to the Humanities Program, and a second group on decolonizing and internationalizing curriculums.


  • Ph.D. Emory University, 2008 (West and South Asian Religions)
  • M.T.S. Harvard Divinity School, 1999
  • B.A. Northern Arizona University, 1996 (Religious Studies)

Courses Taught

  • RELS 179 Pilgrimage: Religious Road Trips
  • RELS 200 Introduction to the Study of Religion
  • RELS 280 DI: ARTS: Asian Religious Traditions
  • RELS 326 ARTS: Religion and Dance in South Asia
  • RELS 330 WGSS: Religion and Gender
  • RELS 373 Religion and Business in Asia
  • RELS 373 Religions of East Asia
  • RELS 381 DI: Religions of South Asia
  • RELS 386 DI: Buddhism
  • RELS 398 Theories and Methods in the Study of Religion
  • RELS 490 Senior Capstone
  • RELS 492 Senior Seminar: Religion and Food
  • HUM 124 Ancient World

Professional Interests

Religions of Asia; Performance, Ethnography and Ritual Studies; Body; Gender; Conflict Transformation; Business and Culture in Asia; Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Selected Publications


  • Dancing Bodies of Devotion: Fluid Gestures in Bharata Natyam. Lexington, 2014.
  • Inside the Indian Business Mind: A Tactical Guide for Managers. Co-authored with Raj R. Sahay.  Praeger, 2010.

Articles, Chapters, Blog Posts and Reviews

South Asian Studies, Hinduism, and Dance

  • "Intimate earthly embodiments: Dancing the seasons in bharatanatyam,” Dance, Movement & Spiritualities 4:2 (2017): 147-72.
  • "Hindu Traditions: Controlling and Embracing Desire,” Embodied Religion, edited by Kent Brintnall. New York: Macmillan Interdisciplinary Series, 2016: 37-54.
  • "Dancing the Bhagavadgita: Embodiment as Commentary." Journal of Hindu Studies 7:3 (2014): 392-417.
  • “Body.”  Encyclopedia of Hinduism. Volume II.  Leiden: Brill, 2010.

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL)

  • Intellectual hospitality: Inviting our students to engage with core materials, Humanities Readers Blog Series, May 30, 2018
  • “The Mock Conference as Teaching Tool: Role-Play and ‘Conplay’ in the Classroom,” (co-authored with Aaron Ricker, Jill Peterfeso, William Yoo, and Kate Blanchard) 21:1 Teaching Theology & Religion (2018): 60-72.
  • “Sensing the Gods: Utilizing Embodied Pedagogy to Teach Hindu Devotion,” Religious Studies News, Spotlight on Teaching, October 2016: 23-26.