Publications

VITAL DECOMPOSITION

SOIL PRACTITIONERS + LIFE POLITICS

In Colombia, decades of social and armed conflict and the US-led war on drugs have created a seemingly untenable situation for scientists and rural communities as they attempt to care for forests and grow non-illicit crops. In Vital Decomposition Kristina Lyons presents an ethnography of human-soil relations. She follows state soil scientists and small farmers across labs, greenhouses, forests, and farms and attends to the struggles and collaborations between campesinos, agrarian movements, state officials, and scientists over the meanings of peace, productivity, rural development, and sustainability in Colombia. In particular, Lyons examines the practices and philosophies of rural farmers who value the decomposing layers of leaves, which make the soils that sustain life in the Amazon, and shows how the study and stewardship of the soil point to alternative frameworks for living and dying. In outlining the life-making processes that compose and decompose into soil, Lyons theorizes how life can thrive in the face of the violence, criminalization, and poisoning produced by militarized, growth-oriented development. 

Kristina Lyons

SOIL PRACTITIONERS + LIFE POLITICS

VITAL DECOMPOSITION

BookPages: 232

Illustrations: 42 illustrations

Published: April 2020

Author: Kristina Lyons, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania.

SubjectsAnthropologyEnvironmental and Agrarian Studies, Feminist Science Studies, Latin American Studies

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The New Books Network is a consortium of author-interview podcast channels dedicated to raising the level of public discourse by introducing scholars and other serious writers to a wide public via new media. 

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WHAT PEOPLE SAY

“Vital Decomposition weaves enthralling ecopoetic writing with the finest ethnographic storytelling.

Kristina Lyons tells us a compelling story of human-soil relations nurturing insurgent life from the very grounds of eco-social devastation.

An indispensable and inspiring read for hopeful decolonial naturecultures.”

MARÍA PUIG DE LA BELLACASA

Author of 

Matters of Care:

Speculative Ethics in More Than Human Worlds

WHAT PEOPLE SAY

“Making several important interventions in biopolitics, multispecies ethnography, and feminist science studies, Vital Decomposition is a riveting, engaging, timely, and intimate book.

It is the best kind of ethnography; it takes us to the small, marginal, and forgotten and examines the world through them, making us feel as though we've been looking at everything the wrong way for a while.”

KREGG HETHERINGTON

Author of 

The Government of Beans:

Regulating Life in the Age of Monocrops

WHAT PEOPLE SAY

“Her analysis aligns unapologetically with these farmers, offering both a powerful critique of capitalist agriculture and a rich account of alternative practices.”

“A strength of the book is Lyons’ rejection of the academic conceit of being more knowledgeable than her interlocutors.” 

ALEX DIAMOND

 

NACLA Magazine

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Selected publications

TIMES OF PANDEMIC AND SOCIO-ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

Book chapter in Essays about the Pandemic, pg. 167-176.

(2020)

Essays about the Pandemic

Cali: Universidad ICESI

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(Spanish)

RÍOS Y RECONCILIACIÓN PROFUNDA

La reconstrucción de la memoria socioecológica en tiempos de conflicto y "transición" en Colombia (2019)

Maguaré 33 (2): 209-245.

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(Spanish)

RIVERS HAVE MEMORY

The (im)possibility of floods and histories of urban de‐and‐ reconstruction in the Andean‐Amazonian foothills (2018)

City & Society 30 (3)

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(Spanish)

LOS RÍOS TIENEN MEMORIA

La (im)posibilidad de las inundaciones e historias de (de) y (re)construcción urbana en el piedemonte amazónico (2018)

AlaOrilladelRío: Centro de pensamiento desde la Amazonía colombiana

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(Spanish)

CHEMICAL WARFARE IN COLOMBIA

Evidentiary ecologies and senti-actuando practices of justice (2018)

Social Studies of Science 48 (3): 414-437

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(Spanish)

GUERRA QUÍMICA EN COLOMBIA

Ecologías de la evidencia y senti-actuar prácticas de justicia (2017)

Universitas Humanísticas 84: 203-234

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(Spanish)

SELVA, LIFE AND DEATH

A conversation in Images with Kristina Lyons (2016)

Cultural Anthropology, Supplementals

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(Spanish)

DECOMPOSITION AS LIFE POLITICS

Soils, Selva, and Small Farmers under the Gun of the U.S.-Colombian War on Drugs (2016)

Cultural Anthropology 31 (1): 55-80

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(Spanish)

SOIL SCIENCE

Development and the "Elusive Nature" of Colombia's Amazonian Plains (2014)

Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 19 (2): 212-236

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(Spanish)

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KRISTINA LYONS

ANTHROPOLOGIST

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