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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I am a core faculty member of OSU’s Initiative for Food and Agricultural Transformation (InFACT) as well as an affiliate faculty member in the Center for Latin American Studies and the Environmental Sciences Graduate Program. My research centers on human-environment interactions, with specific focus on human cultural relationships to plants, soils, and bodily waste. I have studied the contemporary management of Amazonian Dark Earth (a fertile, anthropogenic soil associated with Pre-Columbian indigenous settlements) 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.  My most recent project, funded by a post-PhD grant from the Wenner-Gren Foundation, examines the use of biosolids (i.e. treated sanitation waste) for agricultural production, urban gardening, and ecological restoration in the contemporary US. Though much of my work is disseminated through peer-reviewed research articles and books, I also contribute regularly to popular outlets including NPRThe AtlanticThe Conversation, and SAPIENS as well as informal publications, such as blogs and zines.

Selected Recent Publications

Kawa, N.C., Arceño, 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

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.


Kawa cv.pdf217.73 KB


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