Katherine C. Zubko, Ph.D.

Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning, Professor and Chair of Religious Studies

Contact Information

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

Office Hours

  • Monday 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
  • Wednesday 2:00 pm - 3:00 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 NEH Professor in the Humanities,  I support program initiatives in SoTL, engaging Eastern Band of Cherokee ways of knowing, and decolonizing and internationalizing curriculums.


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

Courses Taught

  • FYS 178 Pilgrimage: Religious Road Trips
  • RELS 145: Sensing Religion: Body, Emotion, and Desire
  • 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


Journal Editor-in-Chief

Articles, Chapters, Blog Posts and Reviews

South Asian Studies, Hinduism, and Dance

  • "How Do Hindus Learn the Stories of Hinduism? in Hinduism in 5 Minutes, edited by Steven Ramey. UK: Equinox, 2022.
  • "What Does Worship in Hinduism Look Like?" in Hinduism in 5 Minutes, edited by Steven Ramey. UK: Equinox, 2022.
  • "The Embodied Palimpsest: Dancing Kinesthetic Empathy in Bharatanatyam." Body and Religion 5.1 (2021): 69-95.
  • "Dance and Hinduism," Oxford Bibliographies in "Hinduism," edited by Tracy Coleman. New York: Oxford University Press, 30 October 2019 (138 entries).
  • Performance Review of Agathi: The Plight of the Refugee. Ecumenica 12:1 (2019): 56-62.
  • "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)

  • “Bringing the Introduction to Religious Studies Course to Its Senses,” in Teaching Critical Religious Studies, edited by Jenna Gray-Hildenbrand, Beverley McGuire, and Hussein Rashid. New York: Bloomsbury, 2022.
  • 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.