Dr. A. Katherine Lambert-Pennington

Dr. A. Katherine Lambert-Pennington

Associate Professor

302 McCord Hall, Memphis, TN 38152
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About Dr. Lambert-Pennington

Dr. Katherine Lambert-Pennington received her PhD in Cultural Anthropology with a certificate in African and African-American Studies from Duke University in 2005. She is currently the Director of the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Memphis. Known to students as Dr. L-P, Dr. Lambert-Pennington is an engaged anthropologist with research and teaching interests in alternative development, particularly alterative food systems and food justice, participatory democracy, identity, race and social inequality in the US and abroad. She is the author or co-author of over 30 articles, book chapters, and technical reports. She held the Public Policy seat on the Programmatic Advisory and Advocacy Committee (MPAAC) of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) from 2017-2019.

Dr. Lambert-Pennington’s current research explores the politics and possibilities of citizen-led development in the Simeto River Valley in Sicily where she partners with Dr. Laura Saija (University of Catania) and the activists and leaders involved in the creation and implementation of Simeto River Agreement (SRA). This research draws on environmental anthropology, critical geography, and political philosophy to examine the relationship between the politics of development and practices of democracy. It asks: How do instruments of shared governance, like the SRA, and citizens’ collective actions, like the Presidium, cultivate new political spaces and collective identities of place and in what ways can they generate alternative development practices? Additionally, she is actively involved in research on housing inequality, food security, and neighborhood development in Memphis, TN.

Dr. Lambert-Pennington is also a co-leader of the Community, Planning and Environmental Design (CoPED) study abroad program. Each summer CoPED participants collaborate with community organizations in the Simteo River Valley to implement key aspects of the Simeto River Agreement. CoPED was featured in the Unversity’s “Around the World” magazine in 2020. To see this amazing in action, program check out the CoPED channel on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqxSCGP1-yQQo4wI4-8LlqA

Expertise and Interests

Race and social inequality, social movements, identity production, community development, food justice, alternative food networks, participatory action research, community-university partnerships, US, Australia, Italy.

Selected Publications

2020    Saija, L., & Lambert-Pennington, K., eds. To do and know something together: overcoming the obstacles and challenges of action-research in making better urban worlds. [Special Issue]. Tracce Urbane. Rivista Italiana Transdisciplinare di Studi Urbani, 4(8) https://ojs.uniroma1.it/index.php/TU/issue/view/1603/showToc .

2020    Lambert-Pennington, K. & Saija, L., Introduction: To do and know something together: overcoming the obstacles and challenges of action-research in making better urban worlds. Tracce Urbane. Rivista Italiana Transdisciplinare di Studi Urbani, 4(8). https://ojs.uniroma1.it/index.php/TU/article/view/17278/16503 .

2020    Saija, L., & Lambert-Pennington, K., eds. L'Università engaged: la prospettiva dei territori. Tracce Urbane. Rivista Italiana Transdisciplinare di Studi Urbani, 4(8). https://ojs.uniroma1.it/index.php/TU/article/view/17279/16504 .

2020    Lambert-Pennington, K., & Pender, L. Food Roots & Today’s Pantry: The Multiple Meanings of “Thrifty Know-How” among Older African American Women. Anthropology & Aging, 41(2), 93-109.

2018    Lambert-Pennington, K., L. Saija, & A. Franchina, From Possibility to Action: An Interdisciplinary Action-Learning School dealing with Waste. Cambio. Rivista sulle Trasformazioni Sociali, 8(15), 73-87.

2016    Lambert-Pennington, K. and K. Hicks, Class Conscious, Color-Blind: Examining the Dynamics of Food Access and the Justice Potential of Farmers Markets. Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment, 38(1) 57-66.

2015    Raciti, Antonio, K. Lambert-Pennington, K. Reardon, The struggle for the future of public housing in Memphis, Tennessee: Reflections on HUD's Choice Neighborhoods planning program, Cities, Available online 11 December 2015, ISSN 0264-2751, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2015.10.016 .

Selected Awards

  • Marcus Orr Center for Humanities, Deborah L. Talbot Faculty Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Inquiry, University of Memphis, 2017 

  • Highland Area Renewal Corporation, HARC Angel Award, 2017

  • University of Memphis Alumni Association, Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Award, 2014

  • Tennessee Medical Association’s Community Service Award for the South Memphis Revitalization Plan, 2012

  • The Ernest Lynton Award for Early Career Scholars from New England Resource Center for Higher Education and the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities, 2011 


  • History of Anthropological Theory (ANTH 7200)

  • Anthropological Perspectives of Development (ANTH 7201)

  • American Communities (ANTH 3282)

  • Contemporary Theory (ANTH 4065)

  • Culture, Identity and Power (ANTH 4/6416)

Additional Resources

  • Thinking anthropologically about Community Planning and Environmental Design (CoPED). Consortium of Practicing and Applied Anthropologists (COPAA), Viewpoints: "Notes from the Field" https://www.copaainfo.org/news .