Nicholas C. Kawa

Nicholas C. Kawa

Nicholas C. Kawa

Assistant Professor

(614) 292-2391

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

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My research centers on questions of human-environment interaction, with specific focus on human relationships to plants, soils, and bodily waste. I have studied the management of Amazonian Dark Earth (a fertile anthropogenic soil associated with Pre-Columbian Amerindian settlements), examining how past and present human activity has shaped the botanical diversity found in association with it. I have also investigated the roles that social networks and religious affiliation play in the maintenance and distribution of botanical species and crop varieties managed in rural Amazonian communities.

Currently, I am developing new research with the support of a Wenner-Gren Post-PhD grant that investigates the use and management of human excrement in American agriculture. Human waste has been used for millennia as an agricultural amendment, but its application is significantly limited in many industrialized societies today. This project considers how cultural taboos, sanitation infrastructure, and legal regulation influence the use of biosolids (i.e. treated sanitation waste) for agricultural production in the contemporary United States.

Selected Recent Publications

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. 

Amazonas, I.T., Kawa, N.C., Zanetti, V., Linke, I., and Sinisgalli, P. 2019. Using Rich Pictures to Model the ‘Good Life’ in Indigenous Communities of the Tumucumaque Complex in Brazilian Amazonia. Human Ecology 47(3): 1-14. 

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. How Religion, Race, and the Weedy Agency of Plants Shape Amazonian Home Gardens. Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment 38(2): 84-93.

Kawa, N.C. 2016. American Confederates and the Origins of Archaeology in the Amazon Basin. SAPIENS. 4 Nov.

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


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