Virginia Tech® home

Katrina M. Powell

Katrina M. Powell, Professor and Director of the Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies

Katrina Powell portrait
Katrina M. Powell, Professor and Director of the Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies

220 Stanger Street
Blacksburg, VA 24061
540-231-1070 |

Katrina M. Powell, founding director of the Center for Refugee, Migrant, and Displacement Studies, is a professor of rhetoric and writing in the Department of English.

She teaches courses in Rhetorics of Social Justice, Feminist Autobiography, and Research Methodologies.

Powell’s research focuses on displacement narratives and the ethical dimensions of archiving those narratives in alternative spaces. Her current project, Resettled: Beginning (Again) in Appalachia, is an oral history collection in which narrators describe their experiences relocating to and within the Appalachian region. Resettled is funded by Voice of Witness.

  • Displacement Narratives
  • Rhetorics of Human Rights
  • Rhetorics of Social Justice
  • Performative Autobiography
  • Feminist Research Methodologies
  • Ph.D., University of Louisville
  • M.A., George Mason University
  • B.A., Mary Washington College
  • Alumni Award for Outreach Excellence, 2021
  • Land Grant Scholar Award, 2019
  • Voice of Witness Foundation Book Fellowship, 2019-2021
  • ASPECT Outstanding Graduate Faculty Award, 2017
  • Diggs Teaching Scholar Award, 2015
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2005-2006


Powell, Katrina M. Performing Autobiography: Narrating a Life as Activism. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2021.

Powell, Katrina M. Identity and Power in Narratives of Displacement. London & New York: Routledge, 2015.

Powell, Katrina M. The Anguish of Displacement: The Politics of Literacy in the Letters of Mountain Families in Shenandoah National Park. Charlottesville: The University of Virginia Press, 2007. 

Powell, Katrina M. and Pamela Takayoshi, eds. Practicing Research in Writing Studies: Reflexive and Ethically Responsible Research. New York: Hampton Press, Inc., 2012. 

Powell, Katrina M., ed. 'Answer at Once': Letters of Mountain Families in Shenandoah National Park: 1934-1938. Charlottesville: The University of Virginia Press, 2009.

Journal Articles

  • “Archives in Motion: Transitional Sites of Identity in Narratives of Displacement.” a/b: Auto/Biography Studies. 36.3 (2022): 577-601.
  • “A Necessary Tension: Editors, Editing, and Oral History for Social Justice.” Oral History Review, special issue “Ethics” w/ Ricia Chansky-Sancinito and Đào X. Trần. 48.2 (2021): 258-272.
  • "Resisting the Trauma Story: Ethical Concerns in the Oral History Archive." Displaced Voices: A Journal of Archives, Migration and Cultural Heritage 1.1 (2020), 76-79. With Katherine Randall and Brett Shadle.
  • “Hidden Archives: Revealing Untold Stories.” Journal of American Studies 52.1 (2018): 26-44. 
  • “(co)Constructing Public Memories: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Creating Born-Digital Oral History Archives.” With Ren Harman, Tarryn Abrahams, David Cline, Quinn Warnick, Jessie Rogers, Adrienne Serra, Shannon Larkin, Ashley Stant, and Ellen Boggs. Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals 13.2 (2017): 123-132.
  • “Converging Crises: Rhetorical Constructions of Eugenics and the Public Child.” JAC: Journal of Rhetoric, Culture & Politics 33.3 (2013): 455-485.
  • Powell, Katrina M. “Rhetorics of Displacement: Constructions of Identity in Forced Relocations.” College English 74.4 (March 2012): 297-322.

Selected Book Chapters

  • “The Gift of Good Land: Loss, Resettlement, and Stewardship Through Everyday Nature in the Shenandoah National Park and on the New River.” In Lost in Transition: Removing, Resettling, and Renewing Appalachia. Ed. Aaron Purcell. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2022. 67-88. With Savannah P. Murray.
  •  “Refugee and migrant partnerships in Virginia: Fostering connectivity and reciprocity.” Vibrant Virginia: Engaging the Commonwealth to Expand Economic Vitality. Virginia Tech Publishing, 2022. 237-253. With Rebecca Hester and Katie Randall.
  • “Reading Human Rights Literatures through Oral Traditions.” Routledge Companion to Human Rights Literature, Ed. Sophia McClennen and Alexandra Schultheis Moore.. New York: Routledge, 2015. 136-147.
  •  “Public and Private Memories of Displacement: Narrating Removal and Relocation.” Narrative Acts: Rhetoric, Race, and Identity. Eds. Debra Journet and Beth Boehm. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 2010. 163-184.
  • "The Embodiment of Memory: The Intellectual Body in Shirley Geok-lin Lim's Among the White Moon Faces."  Ed. Christopher John Stuart. New Essays on Autobiography and The Body. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009. 154-167.


Powell, Katrina M., Assistant Producer. “Rothstein’s First Assignment.” Directed by Richard Knox Robinson, Ekphratic Productions LLC, 2010

  • Mellon Foundation, “Monuments Across Appalachian Virginia,” 2022-2025 
  • National Endowment for the Humanities/Social Science Research Council, Sustaining the Humanities Grant for “Converging Displacements,” 2022-2023
  • American Council for Learned Societies, “Digital Justice for Citizenship,” 2022-23
  • 4VA, “Digital Justice for Resettlement,” 2022-23
  • Voice of Witness Book Fellowship, "Resettled: Beginning (Again) in Appalachia," 
  • 2018-2020
  • South Atlantic Humanities Fellowship, 2008-2009
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2005-2006