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Trained as a cultural and applied anthropologist (B.A. History, Vassar College; M.A. Latin American Studies, Stanford University; Ph.D. Anthropology, Columbia University), I specialize in the Caribbean with a focus on Franco/Creolophone regions around the world (Guadeloupe,

Martinique, La Réunion). This includes former French colonies in the Caribbean and Indian Ocean (Haiti, Mauritius, Madagascar). My ethnographic research examines issues in Creole studies, language politics, sociolinguistics, literacy, ethnic and cultural identity, gender relations, immigration in multi-cultural societies, the African and Indian diasporas, and, more recently, the relationship between food and culture.  This body of work draws on connections between the past and the present, linking anthropology with history.

When not conducting archival or field research, I engage in applied, problem-solving projects in public health, education, youth and community development as principal of Schnepel Consulting in Brooklyn, New York. My background, expertise, and skills include writing grants for non-profit organizations and educational institutions, and designing and conducting

assessment and evaluation of programs.

In 2000, when I won the chocolate Easter bunny raffle at Aldo’s, a biscotteria in Greenport, NY, I had an epiphany that led to a change of focus in my work. I wrote about this for Dan’s Papers Literary Prize in 2015 (see my short story to the right). Ever since, chocolate has been my muse. I have started to write stories in the genre of creative non-fiction, inspired by my overseas travel, love of languages, and chocolate adventures.

I invite you to come along on my fascinating, delicious chocolate journey.

Radio Cafe host Mary-Charlotte interviews Ellen about the origins and use of the Creole language; Ellen reads a short piece of her creative 

non-fiction story about learning the language from an old fisherman...

Santa Fe Radio - Ellen Schnepel
00:00 / 00:00

Suffolk Times reporter Julie Lane writes about how Ellen's chocolate journey began when she won a chocolate Easter bunny from Aldo's in 2000...

Read Ellen’s story of how a 5-kilo block of Callebaut’s dark chocolate propelled her into the world of chocolate -- from cacao estates to chocolate shows ...

Select Publications


  • “The Other Tongue, The Other Voice: Language and Gender in the French  Caribbean.” Ethnic Groups 10: 243-268 (1993)


  • In Search of a National Identity: Creole and Politics in Guadeloupe (Hamburg: Helmut Buske Verlag, 2004) (available on


  • Creole Movements in the Francophone Orbit. The International Journal of the Sociology of Language, no. 102, co-edited with Lambert-Félix Prudent (1993)

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