Kathryn Gillespie

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  • Postdoctoral Scholar
  • Geography
  • Environmental and Sustainability Studies
  • Applied Environmental and Sustainability Studies
Research Interests:


PhD, Geography, University of Washington, 2014

MA, Geography, University of Washington, 2010

BA, Creative Writing and Political Science, Sarah Lawrence College, 2006


Kathryn (Katie) Gillespie is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of Kentucky in the Department of Geography and the Applied Environmental and Sustainability Studies Program. Her research and teaching interests focus on: feminist and multi-species theory and methods; food and agriculture; political economy; critical animal studies;  human-environment relations; and critical race and postcolonial studies. She is the author of The Cow with Ear Tag #1389 [University of Chicago Press, 2018]. She has also published in numerous scholarly journals and has co-edited three books: Vulnerable Witness: The Politics of Grief in the Field [University of California Press, 2018, co-edited with Patricia J. Lopez]; Critical Animal Geographies: Politics, Intersections and Hierarchies in a Multispecies World [Routledge, 2015, co-edited with Rosemary-Claire Collard]; and Economies of Death: Economic Logics of Killable Life and Grievable Death [Routledge, 2015, co-edited with Patricia J. Lopez]. Gillespie was an Animal Studies Postdoctoral Fellow at Wesleyan University (2016-2018) and has taught various courses at the University of Washington. She has volunteered with Freedom Education Project Puget Sound (a Puget Sound, WA-based prison education organization), Food Empowerment Project (a food justice organization in Cotati, CA), and Pigs Peace Sanctuary (a sanctuary for pigs in Stanwood, WA)


This course will survey some of the most important environmental problems (climate change, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water scarcity) and the tools needed to analyze, understand, and respond to these problems (market-based solutions, political economy, institutional economic theories, environmental ethics). Students will also explore new scientific ideas on sustainability to better understand the contemporary environmental problems the world is facing. With rigorous thinking about the science of sustainability, students will have the knowledge and skills so that they can help institutions, business, public policy, and individuals understand and act on key principles of sustainability. Prereq: Admission to the MA or Graduate Certificate in Applied Environmental and Sustainability Studies or permission of instructor.

This course will explore the roles of governments, markets, and civil society in the creation, adoption, and implementation of environmental and sustainability rules and norms. We will evaluate leading environmental and policy strategies, including traditional state regulation, market-based incentives and regulations created by private actors (civil society and corporations/Corporate Social Responsibility). Increasingly, the interactions between different forms of regulation figure prominently in debates about environmental and sustainability governance. We will draw upon empirical examples of governance and policy for a diverse reference set of environmental and sustainability challenges and solutions. Students will develop strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills in order to contribute to environmental and sustainability policy and governance. Prereq: Admission to online MA program or Graduate Certificate in Applied Environmental and Sustainability Studies or consent of instructor. 

The course provides students an understanding of the latest scientific research in the field of environment and sustainability studies and the tools to communicate this research effectively to the public. In addition, students will learn key technical writing skills to apply knowledge in environmental and sustainability studies. For technical writing, students will develop skills for writing letters, grant proposals, reports, and presentations for specific audiences. To communicate with a broad audience about the questions central to environmental and sustainability studies, students will write short articles, record podcasts, make videos, craft memes, and author multimodal texts. Storytelling and clear description will also be emphasized across multiple platforms, which will include blogs, audio podcasts and short videos, among others. Students will build the critical skillsets necessary for technical writing as well as craft dynamic and compelling stories about environment and sustainability issues. Prereq: Admission to online MA or Graduate Certificate in Applied Environmental and Sustainability Studies or consent of instructor.

The climate crisis is arguably the most pressing and dire problem of our time, affecting (and poised to affect) nearly every aspect of life on this planet. We are seeing, at unprecedented scales, global warming, melting ice sheets, extreme weather events (drought, flooding, wildfires, hurricanes, etc.), mass extinctions, and the acceleration and escalation of planetary destruction as these and so many other environmental problems collide. Climate scientists have long been sounding the alarm with their dire predictions of the unfolding catastrophe, communicating with increasing desperation the scale of the problem even as the speed of the crisis surpasses their predictions. At the same time, political and economic interests often prioritize the maintenance of the status quo (business as usual) over a wholesale, radical response to this crisis. This course explores the complexities of the climate crisis, from causes and effects, to the uneven and unjust way the crisis has already disproportionately affected the most vulnerable human and nonhuman lives, to community responses and calls to action.  

Waste means many things: It can refer to garbage, sewage, excrement, toxic-, hazardous-, nuclear-, or e-waste – substances that are not wanted and whose disposal must be managed (or not); it can mean the careless use or expenditure of materials; it can refer to  wastelands – those vast expanses of barren and/or toxic land created by industrial destruction, for instance. Waste is all at once a necessary function of living (we can’t live, for instance, without creating excrement) and a manufactured phenomenon resulting from consumer culture and global capitalism (capital circulates around and through waste). Waste travels – both intentionally (as in the case of waste exports/imports around the globe) and unintentionally (as in the case of carelessly discarded plastic travelling through waterways to the ocean); and both legally (as in the case of waste management systems like landfills, recycling centers, and composting programs) and illegally (as in the case of illegal dumping of hazardous materials by industry). How waste is created and what we do with waste can be understood as a wicked problem within the current global system of capitalism and the climate crisis. In this course, we will explore core concepts related to waste and analyze the economic, political, social, and ecological dimensions of waste; we will look at a number of case studies that illuminate these complexities in the context of how waste is made and where it goes; and we will look at a range of solutions, from radical shifts in consumption and waste generation, to various forms of waste management and circular economies.     

Selected Publications: 

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2018. The Cow with Ear Tag #1389. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Gillespie, Kathryn, Patricia J. Lopez (Editors). 2019. Vulnerable Witness: The Politics of Grief in the Field. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Gillespie, Kathryn, Rosemary-Claire Collard (Editors). 2015. Critical Animal Geographies: Politics, Intersections and Hierarchies in a Multispecies World. New York: Routledge.

Lopez, Patricia J., Kathryn Gillespie (Editors). 2015. Economies of Death: Economic Logics of Killable Life and Grievable Death. New York: Routledge.


Gillespie, Kathryn, Yamini Narayanan (Guest Editors). 2020. “Animal Nationalisms: Multispecies Cultural Politics, Race, and the (Un)making of the Settler Nation-State.” Journal for Intercultural Studies. 41 (1).


Gillespie, Kathryn. “Animals.” Research Ethics in Human Geography, edited by Helen Wilson and Jonny Darling, SAGE. [Forthcoming]

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2020. The afterlives of the lively commodity: Life-worlds, death-worlds, rotting-world. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space. OnlineFirst.

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2020. Provocation from the field: A multispecies doula approach to death and dying, Animal Studies Journal. 9(1): 1-31.

Gillespie, Kathryn, Yamini Narayanan. 2020. Introduction to Special Issue: Animal Nationalisms: Multispecies Cultural Politics, Race, and the (Un)making of the Settler Nation-StateJournal for Intercultural Studies. 41 (1): 1-7. 

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2019. For a politicized multispecies ethnography: Reflections on a feminist geographic pedagogical experimentPolitics and Animals. 5: 1-16. 

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2019. “Animal welfare.” International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, 2nd Edition, edited by Audrey Kobayashi. Elsevier. 

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2018. Placing Angola: Racialisation, settler-colonialism, and anthropocentrism at the Louisiana State Penitentiary’s Angola RodeoAntipode. 50 (5): 1267-1289. 

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2018. The loneliness and madness of witnessing: Reflections from a vegan feminist killjoy. In Animaladies, coedited by Lori Gruen and Fiona Probyn-Rapsey. Bloomsbury.

Gillespie, Kathryn, Victoria Lawson. 2017. “My Dog is My Home:” Multispecies care and poverty politics in Los Angeles, CA and Austin, TX. Gender, Place, and Culture

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2017. Industrial Slaughter. In Gender: Animals, ed Rheanna S. Parrenas. Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Gender. 

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2017. Feminist Food Politics. In Gender: Animals, ed Rheanna S. Parrenas. Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Gender. 

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2017. Intimacy, animal emotion, and empathy: Multispecies intimacy as slow research practice. In Writing Intimacy into Geography, eds P Moss and C Donovan. Ashgate Publishing.

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2017. Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. In Humans and Animals: A Geography of Coexistence, eds J Urbanik and C Johnston. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO Press. 

Lopez, Patricia J., Kathryn Gillespie. 2016. A love story: For “buddy system research” in the academyGender, Place, and Culture 23 (12): 1689-1700. 

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2016. Witnessing animal others: Bearing witness, grief, and the political function of emotionHypatia 31 (3): 572-588. 

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2016. Nonhuman animal resistance and the improprieties of live property. In Animals, Biopolitics, Law: Lively Legalities, ed I Braverman. 

Gillespie, Kathryn & Patricia Lopez. 2015. Introducing Economies of Death. In Economies of Death: Economic logics of killable life and grievable death, eds. P. Lopez & K Gillespie. London: Routledge.

Gillespie, Kathryn & Patricia Lopez. 2015. Economies of Death: An ethical framework and future directions. In Economies of Death: Economic logics of killable life and grievable death, eds. P. Lopez & K Gillespie. London: Routledge.

Collard, Rosemary-Claire & Kathryn Gillespie. 2015. Introduction. In Critical Animal Geographies: Politics, Intersections and Hierarchies in a Multispecies World, eds K Gillespie & R-C Collard. New York: Routledge.

Collard, Rosemary-Claire & Kathryn Gillespie. 2015. Doing critical animal geographies: future directions. In Critical Animal Geographies: Politics, Intersections and Hierarchies in a Multispecies World, eds K Gillespie & R-C Collard. New York: Routledge.

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2014. Sexualized violence and the gendered commodification of the animal body in Pacific Northwest US dairy production. Gender, Place and Culture, 21(10): 1321-1337. 

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2011. How happy is your meat? Confronting (dis)connectedness in the ‘alternative’ meat industry. The Brock Review 12(1): 100-128.

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2011. Killing with kindness? Institutionalized violence in ‘humane’ slaughter. Nonkilling Geographies, James Tyner and Joshua Inwood (Eds.) Honolulu, Hawaii: Center for Global Nonkilling.


Gillespie, Kathryn. 2017. Book Review of The Wrongs of Injustice: Dehumanization and its Role in Feminist Philosophy by Mari MikkolaKennedy Institute of Ethics Journal.

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2016. Book Review of Political Ecologies of Meat edited by Jody Emel and Harvey NeoEconomic Geography, 3(2): 66-67. 

Gillespie, Kathryn. 2015. Book Review of Animal Oppression & Human Violence: Domesecration, Capitalism, and Global Conflict by David Nibert, The AAG Review of Books, 3 (2).