Winner of the 2012 SEA Book Prize: Sarah Lyon, Coffee and Community: Maya Farmers and Fair-Trade Markets

While many people believe that drinking fair-trade coffee, purchased directly from the growers, promotes healthier working conditions, environmentally friendly agricultural standards and fair prices, Lyon’s work, “Coffee and Community: Maya Farmers and Fair-Trade Markets,” (University of Colorado Press, 2010) analyzes the real implications of fair-trade networks.

Through an ethnographic analysis of Mayan coffee farmers in Guatemala, Lyon analyzes the collective action of fair-trade participants in creating new economic realities. “A lot of people have heard about fair trade and they may even purchase fair trade products, like coffee, so in that sense even though the book centers on the lives of these Maya coffee farmers in Guatemala, it is a subject that we can all relate to, or at least those of us who drink coffee,” Lyon said.

The book received the most recent SEA Book Prize, a prize given every three years, to recognize the best publication in the field of economic anthropology over the three-year cycle. Lyon said that with approximately 30 other books nominated for the award, she was very honored to receive the accolade. The book prize was announced at SEA’s annual meeting in San Antonio.

While excited about her honor, Lyon said that she hopes the book’s influence extends beyond award nominations. “My ultimate hope is that the award helps bring more attention to the struggles that small farmers in places like Guatemala face,” Lyon said. “It’s really great to know that people within your sub-discipline, the people whose work most closely mirrors your own and who you are referencing regularly, respect your research and find it interesting.”

Sarah Lyons home page is here:

“Coffee and Community” is on Amazon here:

The SEA Book Prize committee includes Jeffrey Cohen (Chair), Faidra Papavasiliou and Paul Rivera.