Right of passage: Backpacker subculture and the “gentrification” of tourism in Bolivia
(Ph.D., NYU Anthropology 2004)
Vail is the Associate Director of NYU’s Center for Media, Culture and History. Her academic work has focused on visual anthropology, Indigenous media and on the political economy of tourism in the developing world. She has taught on Film and Culture at NYU and Columbia University Anthropology Departments; Tourist Productions in the NYU Performance Studies Program; and documentary filmmaking through the NYU Department of Anthropology’s Culture and Media Program. Vail is a former Fulbright scholar who has additionally served as a lecturer internationally with the Columbia Alumni Travel Study tours and National Geographic, and through conferences on tourism and media anthropology. As a curator, she collaborates with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, American Museum of Natural History, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and The Moth, the storytelling collective for which she was a founding boardmember, curator, and storytelling alumna. Her award-winning feature documentary, Gringo Trails (Icarus Films/Andana Films), looks at the long term cultural and environmental effects of global tourism. It was broadcast and released theatrically in North America in 2014 and has been shown in over 50 festivals and screenings in 20 countries, now available on iTunes, Amazon, and at Icarus Films. Gringo Trails was featured in Hollywood Reporter, CNN, Today Show, Der Spiegel, and National Geographic and Vail has appeared on TV, radio, or in print as a sustainable travel expert, with appearances and commentary in New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Travel+Leisure, and Skift, among others. She has additionally served as a judge for the World Travel Tourism Council's Tourism for Tomorrow Awards and currently for National Geographic’s World Legacy Awards. Most recently, Pegi was the cultural consultant for Felix & Paul Studios' "Nomads" virtual reality series for Oculus / Facebook.