Kristina Lyons

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

University Museum Room 342


Kristina Lyons’ current research is situated at the interfaces of socio-ecological conflicts, feminist science studies, and legal anthropology in Latin America.  Her manuscript, Vital Decomposition: Soil Practitioners and Life Politics (Duke 2020), moves across laboratories, greenhouses, forests, and farms in the capital city of Bogotá, Colombia and the Andean-Amazonian department of Putumayo. It weaves together an intimate ethnography of two kinds of practitioners – state soil scientists and peasant farmers – who attempt to cultivate alternatives to commercial coca crops and the military-led, growth-oriented development paradigms intended to substitute them. In 2015, Dr. Lyons directed a popular education documentary film project based on farmer-to-farmer alternative agricultural practices called Cultivating a Bien Vivir (Living Well) in the Amazon. Her current work focuses on the memory and mourning of water, geological processes, participatory forms of territorial planning, socionatural disaster, and water-inspired subjecitivities. 

Research Interests

Feminist, postcolonial and decolonial interfaces with science studies, legal anthropology, environmental humanities, politics of 'nature' and 'matter',  experimental ethnography, socio-ecological justice, public engaged scholarship, Latin America.

Selected Publications

2022. " ´Nature´and Territories as Victims: Decolonizing Colombia's Transitional Justice Process, American Anthropologist 1-14.

2022.  “Rights of the Amazon in Cosmopolitical Worlds” in The Promise of Multispecies Justice, edited by Sophie Chao, Karin Bolender, and Eben Kirksey, pg. 53-76. Durham: Duke University Press. 

2022.   Lyons, K and M. Howarth. “The value of hemispheric perspectives for the Environmental Humanities: reflections on bilingual digital environmental justice storytelling,” Tapuya: Latin American Science, Technology and Society 5:1.

2022.  Territories as victims in Colombia’s transitional justice process,” Cultural Anthropology Theorizing the Contemporary Series: “Ecologies of War.” January 25.

2021.  Descomposición Vital: Suelos, Selva y Propuestas de Vida. Bogotá: Universidad del Rosario.

2020.  Vital Decomposition: Soil Practitioners and Life Politics. Durham: Duke University Press.

2018.  “Rivers have memory: The impossibility of floods and histories of urban de-and reconstruction in the Andean-Amazonian foothills,” City & Society 30(3).

2018.  “Chemical Warfare in Colombia, Evidentiary Ecologies, and Senti-actuando [Feeling-acting] Practices of Justice,” Social Studies of Science 0(00): 1-24. 

2017.  “On the Situated Politics of Analytic Symmetry,” Critical Perspectives: Engaging Decoloniality and Decolonization in and at the Interfaces of STS, Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience 3(1): 32-39.

2016.  “Decomposition as Life Politics: Soils, Selva, and Small Farmers under the Gun of the U.S.-Colombia War on Drugs,” Cultural Anthropology 31(1): 55-80.

2016.   “Selva Life and Death: A Conversation in Images with Kristina Lyons.” Cultural Anthropology Fieldsights. March 4.

2014.    “Soil Science, Development and the ‘Elusive Nature’ of Colombia’s Amazonian Plains," Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 19(2): 212-236.

2014.    “Fresh Leaves,” Creative Ethnographic Non-fiction and Photographic Installation published by the Centre for Imaginative Ethnography’s Galleria, York University May 14.

2005.   “Then Silence,”  Anthropology and Humanism 20(2): 232-233. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Courses Taught

Courses Taught:

ANTH 6010 Contemporary Approaches to the Study of Culture & Society

ANTH 3110. Transdisciplinary Environmental Humanities

ANTH 5410. Critical Engagements with Science(s) and Justice(s)

ANTH 2317. The Politics of Matter and the Matter of Politics

ANTH 5510. Experimental Ethnography at the Interfaces of the Arts and Sciences

ANTH 0031. The Rights of Nature in Times of Conflict and Transition

Previous Courses:

Conflicts and Collaborations over Bodies of Water


Center for Experimental Ethnography (CEE)

The Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (PPEH)

Center for Latin American and Latinx Studies (CLALS)



Faculty Status