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Nicholas C. Kawa

A white man with short brown hair wearing a black bomber jacket

Nicholas C. Kawa

Associate Professor


(614) 292-2391

4030 Smith Laboratory
174. W. 18th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210

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I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology as well as an affiliate faculty member in Comparative Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies, and the Environmental Sciences Graduate Program at Ohio State. My research centers primarily on human cultural relationships to plants, soils, and waste. Specifically, I have studied the contemporary management of Amazonian Dark Earth (an anthropogenic soil associated with pre-colonial Indigenous settlements of the Amazon region) as well as the botanical diversity found in association with it. I have also investigated the role that social networks play in the distribution of crop varieties found in rural Amazonian communities as well as hiring practices in American academic anthropology. Most recently, I have been investigating the use of biosolids (i.e. treated sewage sludge) for agricultural production, urban gardening, landscaping, and ecological restoration in the American Midwest. Though much of my work is disseminated through peer-reviewed research articles and books, I also contribute regularly to popular journalistic outlets including NPRThe AtlanticThe Conversation, and SAPIENS as well as informal multimedia publications, such as podcasts, blogs, and zines.

Dr. Kawa's CV page


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Current Graduate Students
Maddison Elliott

Selected Recent Publications

Kawa, N.C., ArceƱo, M.A., Goeckner, R., Hunter, C., Rhue, S.J., Scaggs, S.A., Biwer, M.E., Downey, S.S., Field, J.S., Gremillion, K., McCorriston, J., Willow, A., Newton, E., and Moritz, M. 2021. Training Wicked Scientists for a World of Wicked Problems. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications 8: 189

Hoelle, J.A., and Kawa, N.C. 2021. Placing the Anthropos in the Anthropocene. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 111(3): 655-662.

Kawa, N.C. 2020. Plants that Keep the Bad Vibes Away: Boundary Maintenance and Phyto-Communicability in Urban Amazonia. Ethnos https://doi.org/10.1080/00141844.2020.1765830

Kawa, N.C., Ding, Y., Kingsbury, J., Goldberg, K., Lipschitz, F., Scherer, M., and Bonkiye, F. 2019. Night Soil: Origins, Discontinuities, and Possibilities for Bridging the Metabolic Rift. Ethnobiology Letters 10(1): 40-49.

Kawa, N.C., Clavijo Michelangeli, J.A., Clark, J.L., Ginsberg, D., and McCarty, C. 2019. The Social Network of U.S. Academic Anthropology and Its Inequalities. American Anthropologist 121(1): 14-29.

Kawa, N.C., Ulmer, G.L., and Silverstein, S.M. 2018. A Pretext for Plunder? Environmental Change and State-Led Redevelopment in the Peruvian Amazon. Anthropology Today 34(2): 13-16.

Kawa, N.C. 2016. Amazonia in the Anthropocene: People, Soils, Plants, Forests. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Kawa, N.C. 2016. What Happens When We Flush? Anthropology Now 8(2): 34-43.

Kawa, N.C. 2016. Shit. Lexicon for an Anthropocene Yet Unseen. Cultural Anthropology website. 6 Apr.



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