Kristina Lyons

Assistant Professor of Anthropology

University Museum Room 342


Kristina Lyons’ research focuses on the sciences, technologies, and politics of human-soil relations in Colombia.  Her current manuscript under revision, Decomposition as Life Politics, moves across laboratories, greenhouses, forests, and farms in the capital city of Bogotá 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. She is currently working on a multimodal installation entitled the "Sounds of Soils" in collaboration with soil microbiologist, Kate Scow, and ethnomusicologist, Juan Castrillón. Her new research focuses on the interfaces of militarization, environmentalism, and socio-ecological justice; in particular, the reconstruction of the biocultural memory of a watershed in the Amazon and the emergence of participatory science practices in Colombia’s post-peace accord and transitional justice process.  

Research Interests

Feminist, postcolonial and decolonial interfaces with science studies, environmental humanities, politics of 'nature' and 'matter', ethnographic theory, experimental ethnography and poetics, politics and the political in Latin America, socio-ecological justice, Colombia and Latin America.

Selected Publications

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

2018.   Los ríos tienen memoria: La (im)possibilidad de las inundaciones y historias de (de) and (re) construcción urbana en el piedemonte amazónico.  [Rivers have memory: On the impossibility of flooding and histories of urban de and-reconstruction in the Amazonian foothills]. A la orilla del río. May 31. piedemonte-amazonico/

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.

2017.   ¿Cómo sería una paz territorial?: Iniciativas de Justicia Socioecológica en el Sur [How might a territorial peace be imagined? Initiatives of Socioecological Justice in the South]. A la orilla del río. May 25.

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”. Special Issue on Nature, Infrastructure and the State in Latin America, 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.

2006.   “The First Visit.”  Anthropology and Humanism 31(1):87-88. Berkeley: University of California Press.

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


Center for Experimental Ethnography 

The Penn Program in Environmental Humanities (PPEH)


Geographical Area


Faculty Status