Harriet Lyons, Professor Emerita and winner (2004) of a University of Waterloo Distinguished Teacher Award, is a sociocultural anthropologist who is interested in symbolic systems in the broadest sense. She has done work on Jewish mysticism, joking and ritual insult, mass communications, and the ways in which anthropologists' own collective representations concerning sex and gender have influenced the way they have interpreted the sex and gender systems of others.
She received her BA from Barnard College in New York City and her M. Litt. and D. Phil. from Oxford University. She has taught at Kent State University, the University of Massachusetts, Smith College, and Wilfrid Laurier University, before coming to the University of Waterloo in 1991 as Director of Women's Studies and Associate Professor of Anthropology. Dr. Lyons retired in 2010 and is currently an Adjunct Professor in the department.
Along with her husband Andrew Lyons, she conducted fieldwork in Benin City, Nigeria. The title of their project was The Impact of Mass Communications: Case Study of a Nigerian City. The study explored the ways in which the media, especially television, are incorporated into the cultural understandings of the inhabitants of a contemporary African city. The project combined the theories and methods of symbolic anthropology, urban anthropology, cultural studies and the sociology of mass communications.
2007 - Genital Cutting: The Past and Present of a Polythetic Category. Africa Today, Volume 53, Number 4 (Summer) 3-17.
2006 - Lyons, Andrew and Harriet D. Lyons, eds. Special Issue on the New Anthropology of Sexuality, with an Introduction by the editors. Anthropologica Vol.48, no.2.
2005 - Gross, Claudia, Harriet D. Lyons, Dorothy A. Counts, eds. A Polymath Anthropologist: Essays in Honour of Ann Chowning. Special Issue of Research in Anthropology and Linguistics, a fully refereed monograph series published by The Department of Anthropology, University of Auckland.
2004 - [with Andrew Lyons] Irregular Connections: The History of Anthropology and Sexuality. University of Nebraska Press.
2003 - Mass media in Contemporary Urban Life: Benin City, Nigeria. Reprinted in Television: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies, ed. Toby Miller. Routledge University Press.
2002 - Don't Let Them Know You Care. In Women in the Canadian Academic Tundra, El Hannah, L. Paul and S. Verthamany-Globus, eds., pp. 181-195. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transactions Publishers.
1999 - [with Andrew Lyons] The Notion of Personal and the Cult of Personality: Reflections on Television in Nigeria and North America. In Surviving the Twentieth Century: Social Philosophy from the Frankfurt School to the Columbia Faculty seminars, Judith T. Marcus, ed., pp. 181-195. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transactions Publishers.
1999 - The Representation of Trafficking in Persons in Asia: Orientalism and Other Perils. Electronic Document.Re/Productions Issue 2.
1997 - [with Andrew Lyons] Savages, Infants and the Sexuality of Others: Countertransference in Malinowski and Mead, Serial Symposium on Countertransference in the December 1997 Common Knowledge.
1996 - Sex, Race & Nature: Anthropology and Primitive Sexuality. In Race and Other Misadventures: Essays in Honour of Ashely Montagu in his Ninetieth Year, edited by Larry Reynolds and Leonard Lieberman. Dix Hills, NY, General Hall.
1995 - [with Leonard Lieberman and Andrew Lyons] An Interview with Ashley Montagu. Current Anthropology36(5):835-844.
1994 - Presences and Absences in Edward Said's Culture and Imperialism. Canadian Journal of African Studies28(1):101-105.
1993 - [with Andrew Lyons] A Sweet Hope of Glory in My Soul. In The Beaver Bites Back, Frank Manning and David Flaherty, eds., pp. 881-903. McGill/Queens University Press.
1993 - Is Marriage the Culprit? In Gender Basics, Anne Minas, ed. Belmont California: Wadsworth.
1991 - [With Andrew Lyons] Religion and the Mass Media in Nigeria. In Religion and Society in Nigeria, Jacob K. Olupona (ed.), pp. 97-128. Ibadan, Nigeria: Spectrum.
1991 - [With Andrew Lyons] Voices of Enchantment: Discourses of Religion in the Media, Benin City, Nigeria. The Committee on Visual Anthropology Review, Fall 1990, pp. 16-20.
1990 - Mass Media in Contemporary Urban Life: Benin City, Nigeria. Visual Anthropology, Vol. 3, pp. 411-428.
1991 - Nigerian Television and the Problems of Urban African Women. In Culture and Development in Africa, S. Arnold and E. Nitecki, (eds.). New Jersey: Africa World Press.
1989 - [Co-edited with Audrey Wipper] Special Issue on Women in Africa, The Canadian Journal of African Studies, 1988, No. 3.
1987 - [With Andrew Lyons] Magical Medicine on Television: Benin City, Nigeria. Journal of Ritual Studies 1:1, pp. 103-135.
1986 - [With Andrew Lyons] Savage Sexuality and Secular Morality: Malinowski, Ellis, Russell. Canadian Journal of Anthropology 5:1, pp. 51-64.
1985 - [With Andrew Lyons] Return of the Ikoi-Koi: Manifestations of Liminality on Nigerian Television. In A Canadian Tribute to Victor W. Turner. Paul Bouissac (ed.). Anthropologica (N.S.) 27:1-2, pp. 55-78.
1984 - The Uses of Ritual in Sembène's Xala. The Canadian Journal of African Studies, Fall 1984, pp. 319-328.
1983 - [With Andrew Lyons] A Race or Not a Race: the Question of Jewish Identity in the Year of the First Universal Races Congress. In Social History and Ethnicity. J. Maier and C. Waxman (eds.). New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, pp. 499-518.
1981 - Anthropologists, Moralities, and Relativities: the Problem of Genital Mutilations. The Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology 18:4, pp. 499-518.