Mary Littrell, Ph.D., is Professor and Department Head Emeritus of Design and Merchandising at Colorado State University. She received her degrees from Kansas State University (B.S.), Michigan State University (M.A.), and Purdue University (Ph.D.) with an interdisciplinary focus in African Studies, Applied Anthropology, and Textiles. Mary’s first trip to Ghana was to conduct her doctoral research among the market women traders of Ghana’s dramatic printed textiles. She has returned on numerous occasions and is eager to share her Ghanaian experiences with students. Mary currently lives in Santa Fe, NM, where she is a Research Associate at the Museum of International Folk Art.
In her teaching Mary engages students in exploring how people throughout the world communicate and negotiate social situations through their dress and appearance. The study of textiles and retailing offer students a window on the world’s societies and cultures and on the many ways they produce and acquire goods for daily life. Mary has taught at University Pertanian Malaysia, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, and Fu Jen University in Taiwan. While at Colorado State University, she co-led a Fulbright Group Hays project for U.S. faculty to India focusing on textiles and religion. Mary has conducted numerous student and faculty study tours to Mexico, Guatemala, Uzbekistan, and India. Constant in all tours are opportunities for participants to meet with local retailers on global issues, visit textile artists in their workshops, explore museums and markets, and engage with local residents in conversations about daily life in urban centers and rural communities.
In her research, Mary addresses how textile artisan businesses achieve sustainability in the increasingly competitive global market for artisan products. She has co-authored two books: Social Responsibility in the Global Market: Fair Trade of Cultural Products (Sage Publications) and Artisans and Fair Trade: Crafting Development (Kumarian Press). In recognition of their research on fair trade marketing in India, the co-authors were named Rockefeller Center Scholars in Bellagio, Italy. Mary is also widely recognized for extensive research and publication on tourist consumers and tourism retailing. She is currently completing Embroidery Within Boundaries: Women’s Lives in Kandhar, Afghanistan (Thrums Publications), for which she conducted research in Afghanistan in 2015. Across her career, Mary Littrell has received numerous awards, including Iowa State University Distinguished Professorship, Colorado State University’s Distinguished Faculty Award and the Michael P. Malone International Leadership Award from the Commission on International Programs of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.