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  • Professor
  • Associate Dean for Faculty Advancement & Strategic Initiatives
  • Anthropology
  • Gender and Women's Studies
  • Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies
257 Patterson Office Tower
859 257-5038, 859-539-1296
Other Affiliations:

Sarah Lyon

Research Interests:
economic anthropology
business and organizational anthropology
Latin America
gender and development
agri-food systems

Ph.D. Emory University
B.A. Smith College


My work is situated at the juncture of development studies, economic anthropology and food studies. I am particularly interested in how alternative food networks such as fair trade work to create and sustain diverse economies in the United States and Latin America.



My current research explores how changing labor practices, economic relations, and discourses surrounding marketable coffee qualities (e.g., organic, fairtrade) within global value chains affect cooperatives and communities. Specifically, we are investigating how these changing practices shape the gendered conditions of women's coffee production in Oaxaca, Mexico and struggles for gender equity across the value chain.

I also continue to investigate the nature of producer and consumer relations in certified commodity networks and the impact of fair trade and other consumption based development initiatives among agricultural smallholders in Mexico and Central America. Fair trade is a trading partnership based on dialogue, transparency, and respect that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers. Minimum prices and social premiums linked to fair trade certifications, which require independent audit of the environmental, economic, and social conditions of commodity production and exchange, are integral to the system.

Courses Taught

  • ANT 101: Introduction to Anthropology
  • ANT 245: Food, Culture, and Society 
  • ANT 301: History of Anthropological Thought
  • ANT 311: Anthropological Perspectives on Globalization
  • ANT 324: Contemporary Cultures of Latin America
  • ANT 338: Economic Anthropology
  • ANT 352: Business, Culture, and Society
  • ANT 352: Anthropology of Tourism
  • ANT 480: Business and Organizational Cultures
  • ANT 582: Public Anthropology - Senior Seminar
  • ANT 601: Contemporary Theory
  • ANT 610: History of Anthropological Theory
  • ANT 680: Business and Organizational Cultures
  • ANT 734: Economic Anthropology
  • ANT 770: Globalization
  • ANT 770: Culture and Power in Latin America


Selected Publications:




  • 2021 Lyon, S. Anthropological Perspectives on Fair Trade. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Published online October 29, 2021.
  • 2021 Lyon, S. Fair Trade's Impact on Smallholders. Handbook on the Human Impact of Agriculture. James, Harvey S. Jr., ed. Pp. 194-217. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • 2021 Lyon, S. Business Anthropology. In Sage Handbook of Cultural Anthropology. Pedersen, Lene and Lisa Cliggett, eds. Pp. 364-382. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.
  • 2018 Lyon, S. Digital Connections: Coffee, Agency, and Unequal Platforms. In Digital Food Activism. Schneider, Tanja, et al., eds. Pp. 70-88. New York: Routledge.
  • 2017 ​Lyon, S.  Economics. In Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology. Brown, Nina, et al, eds. Pp. 1-27. Wasington DC: American Anthropological Association.
  • 2015 Lyon, S. Fair Trade and Indigenous Communities in Latin America. In Handbook of Research on Fair Trade.  Raynolds, Laura and Elizabeth Bennett, eds. Edward Elgar.
  • 2012 Lyon, S. “Here The Campesino is Dead”: Can Central America’s Smallholders Be Saved? In Central America and the New Millennium: Living Transition and Reimagining Democracy. Moodie, Ellen and Jennifer Burrell, eds. Pp. 196-211. New York: Berghan Books.
  • 2012 Lyon, S. and C. Wells. Ethnographies of Global Tourism: Cultural Heritage, Economic Encounters, and the Redefinition of Impact. In Global Tourism: Cultural Heritage and Economic Encounters.  Lyon, S. and E. Christian Wells, eds. Pp. 1-20. Walnut Creek: CA: Alta Mira Press.
  • 2010 Lyon, S. A Market of Our Own: Women’s Livelihoods and Fair Trade Coffee Markets. In Fair Trade and Social Justice: Global Ethnographies. Lyon, S. and M. Moberg, eds. Pp. 125-146. New York: New York University Press.
  • 2010 Lyon, S. and M. Moberg. What’s Fair? The Paradox of Seeking Justice through Markets. In Fair Trade and Social Justice: Global Ethnographies. Lyon, S. and M. Moberg, eds. Pp. 1-24. New York: New York University Press.
  • 2006 Just Java: Roasting Fair Trade Coffee. In, Fast Food-Slow Food: The Economic Anthropology of the Global Food System. Wilk, R., ed. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira Press.