I grew up on a small goat farm in rural Vermont and this personal experience directly influenced my research interests in rural livelihoods, sustainability, and agriculture. While I'm passionate about anthropology I happily devote my free time to my two young daughters and husband. When I'm not with them you'll find me gardening, traveling for fun or devouring stacks of novels.
Economic anthropology, tourism, globalization, agricultural production and commodity chains, sustainable consumption, Latin America, Maya culture and identity
In the broadest terms, my research program is situated within ongoing debates over globalization. As an economic anthropologist I am specifically interested in how globalization—the complex flows of information, goods, ideologies, capital, images and people around the world—impacts and intersects with economic livelihoods and communities in Latin America and the United States.
My past research critically examined the nature of producer and consumer relations in certified commodity networks and questioned the promise that fair trade and other consumption based development initiatives hold for agricultural smallholders in developing countries. Fair trade is a form of alternative trade that seeks to improve the position of disempowered small-scale producers through trade as a means of development. The movement, which promotes labeling, certification, and consumer action, rejects the narrow view of third world producers as victims and instead emphasizes the role that northern consumption can play in their economic empowerment and well-being. My book, Coffee and Community: Maya Farmers and Fair Trade Markets (University Press of Colorado, 2011), makes a critical contribution to economic anthropology by providing important insights into how exchange is vested in social relations and inequities in a globalizing world. It represents both the culmination of my long-term research on the impact of certified coffee market participation on Tz’utujil Maya cooperative members in Guatemala and the inspiration for my current research on the Fair Trade Towns USA movement.
While the Fair Trade Labeling Organization International estimates that up to six million producers in developing countries benefited from access to certified fair trade markets, there are close to five hundred million small scale and family farmers in the world today. Therefore, after ten years of research on fair trade I have concluded that one of the strongest limitations of the movement is the relatively small size of the consumer market. Building on questions of consumer politics, community development, and social movement participation, my current research explores the Fair Trade Towns USA grassroots movement which is dedicated to galvanizing support for fair trade throughout multiple community sectors such as consumers, retailers, government leaders, and faith based organizations. I am presently investigating the successes and challenges experienced by existing Fair Trade Towns, the factors motivating retailer and advocate participation and the long-term benefits for both retailers and communities.
In addition to my multi-faceted research on fair trade, my scholarly interest in how globalization impacts and intersects with economic livelihoods and communities in Latin America has more recently led me to focus on the world’s largest industry, tourism. My long-term research goals include an exploration of the understudied dimensions of domestic tourism in Mexico and the ways in which indigenous identity is conceptualized and marketed in the Veracruz tourism industry.
- ANT 101: Introduction to Anthropology
- ANT 311: Anthropological Perspectives on Globalization
- ANT 324: Contemporary Cultures of Latin America
- ANT 301: History of Anthropological Thought
- ANT 338: Economic Anthropology
- ANT 352: Anthropology of Tourism
- ANT 610: History of Anthropological Theory
- ANT 734: Economic Anthropology
- ANT 770: Globalization
- ANT 770: Culture and Power in Latin America
- ANT 538: Beyond Economic Growth
- 2012 Lyon, Sarah and E. Christian Wells, eds. Global Tourism: Cultural Heritage and Economic Encounters. New York: Alta Mira Press. (https://rowman.com/isbn/9780759120914)
- 2011 Coffee and Community: Maya Farmers and Fair Trade Markets. Boulder: University Press of Colorado. [Winner of the Society for Economic Anthropology's Book Prize] (http://www.upcolorado.com/book/Coffee_and_Community-Paperback)
- 2010 Lyon, S. and M. Moberg, eds. Fair Trade and Social Justice: Global Ethnographies. New York: New York University Press. (http://nyupress.org/books/book-details.aspx?bookId=6099)
- 2010 Lyon, S., J. Aranda and T. Mutersbaugh. Gender and Governanace in Fairtrade-Organic Coffee. Geo-Forum 41(1): 93-103. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016718509000402)
- 2010 Lyon, S. What Good Will Two More Trees Do? The Political Economy of Sustainable Coffee Certification, Local Livelihoods and Maya Identities. Landscape Research 34(2): 223-240. (http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/routledg/clar/2009/00000034/00000002/art00005)
- 2008 We Want to Be Equal to Them: Fair Trade Coffee Certification and Gender Equity within Organizations. Human Organization 68(3):258-268. (http://sfaa.metapress.com/content/amh032451h1h5114/?p=6260d56728ae4898a113179656cc6b70&pi=3)
- 2007 Maya Coffee Farmers and the Fair Trade Commodity Chain. Culture and Agriculture 29(2): 100-112. (http://www.anthrosource.net/Abstract.aspx?issn=2153-9553&volume=29&issue=2&SuppNo=0&article=240139&jstor=False&cyear=2007)
- 2007 Fair Trade Coffee and Human Rights in Guatemala. Journal of Consumer Policy 30(3): 241-261. (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10603-007-9040-7)
- 2006 Evaluating Fair Trade Consumption: Politics, Defetishization, and Producer Participation. International Journal of Consumer Studies 30(5): 452-465. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2006.00530.x/abstract)
- 2006 Migratory Imaginations: The Commodification and Contradictions of Shade Grown Coffee. Social Anthropology 14(3): 1-14. (http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=556828&fulltextType=RA&fileId=S0964028206002655)
- 2012 Lyon, S. “Here The Campesino is Dead”: Can Central America’s Smallholders Be Saved? In Moodie, Ellen and Jennifer Burrell, eds. Central America and the New Millennium: Living Transition and Reimagining Democracy. 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.
Please see: http://uky.academia.edu/SarahLyon for a complete list.