Dr. Lisa Markowitz



My concern with the inequities in regional and global agrifood systems and popular efforts to transform them has oriented and grounded my work as a cultural anthropologist. These linked themes have informed much of my writing and scholarly-civic engagement in Andean South America and the upper U.S. South.

As a graduate student and post-doctoral investigator, trained in economic anthropology and peasant studies, I carried out field research in Peru and Bolivia, focusing on the situation of small-holding farmers and ranchers and their use of communal or collective strategies to improve their production systems and economic bargaining power.  This experience led not only to a long-term interest in Andean food and agriculture but to an engagement with building equitable food systems in the United States. My Peruvian fieldwork also sparked a curiosity about the roles and operation of Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs), then ubiquitous in rural Latin America. I’ve continued to study and participate in NGOs here in Kentucky, and currently serve on the Board of the Louisville Association for Community Economics (LACE), a nonprofit committed to supporting cooperatives and other collective enterprises. LACE is currently dedicated to building a community owned, cooperative grocery store in Smoketown. Anthropologists know very well that capitalism is just one way to organize economic life so it intrigues me, both as a researcher and activist to learn more about alternative social arrangements, especially the variety of and prospects for mutual aid and cooperation.