Rappaport Prize

2014 Rappaport Student Prize Competition

The Environmental and Anthropology (A&E) section of the American Anthropological Association is pleased to announce the 2014 Rappaport Student Prize competition.  To apply, interested students are invited to submit an abstract by 21 March 2014 of a paper that you plan to develop into a publication.  The abstract should present a summary of the entire paper, including a statement of the problem being investigated, methods undertaken, the results of the study, the theoretical context in which it is being evaluated, and the significance of the research.  The abstract should not exceed 500 words; abstracts that exceed this word limit will not be reviewed.

All submitted abstracts will be reviewed by an expert panel consisting of A&E officers plus distinguished outside members, focusing on the originality of the research and analysis as well as the contribution to the field of environmental anthropology, and a maximum of five (5) will be selected for participation in the Rappaport prize panel at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association (to be held this year 3-7 December 2014 in Washington D.C.).

The five semi-finalists will be invited to develop an article-length paper based on their abstracts, not exceeding a maximum of 8000 words, including notes and bibliography, to be submitted to the A&E on or before October 15 2014.  All five semi-finalists will receive partial support for travel to the AAA meetings, where they will be expected to present their papers during the Rappaport Prize panel and participate in the panel discussion.  These five papers will be reviewed by the same A&E expert panel, judged for their originality, contribution to the field, and writing style appropriate to a journal manuscript for submission, and one will be selected for the 2014 Rappaport Student Prize, which consists of a $250 cash award, to be announced at the A&E Business Meeting which will be held during the AAA meetings.

The Rappaport Prize and Panel is part of an effort to improve the mentoring process for graduate students as they pursue A&E related careers.  Participating provides an opportunity for students to receive constructive feedback on their work by junior and senior scholars in the A&E community.  In addition to the feedback received during the panel presentations, one panel judge will be assigned to each semi-finalist, to provide detailed feedback and guidance on publication of their papers.

The deadline for the initial paper abstracts is 21 March 2014, to be e-mailed to the organizer of this year’s competition, Michael R. Dove, at <michael.dove@yale.edu>.

**NOTE: A&E award committees follow NSF guidelines regarding potential conflict of interest between applicants and reviewers.**

2013 Roy A. Rappaport Prize

The 2013 Roy A. Rappaport Prize was awarded to:

  • Dr. Heather Swanson, University of California, Santa Cruz, currently Assistant Professor and Postdoctoral Fellow Aarhus University for her paper “Fishy Comparisons: Similarity, difference, and the making of salmon populations”
    Her paper probes how (human) comparative practices shape the making of multispecies landscapes.  Focusing on salmon fisheries management in Hokkaido, Japan, she demonstrates that neither the island’s watershed ecologies nor its fish population structures can be understood without attention to comparison-making.  Since the mid-19th century, natural resources management in northern Japan has been profoundly shaped by how people both within and beyond Japan have compared Hokkaido’s landscapes and fish to those in other parts of the world.

Past Roy A. Rappaport Prize Winners

2012 Roy A. Rappaport Prize

The 2012 Roy A. Rappaport Prize was awarded to:

  • Sarah R. Osterhoudt, student in the combined doctoral program in Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Yale University. “Clear Souls | Clean Fields: Environmental Imaginations and Christian Conversions in Northeastern Madagascar.”
    In this lucidly written essay Osterhoudt analyzes the experiences of rural Malagasy farmers who are in the process of converting to Christian religions from prior systems of ancestor belief.  She argues, compellingly, that in this process, shifts in religious ideologies are profoundly connected to shifts in environmental imaginations and practice.  Drawing on long-term fieldwork in the village of Imorona in Northeastern Madagascar Osterhoudt argues that ideas of what it means to be a good farmer and what it means to be a good Christian have become intertwined in local experiences of religious conversion which reconfigure understandings of the role of central environmental elements such as stones, rice fields, and forests. By considering local experiences of religious conversions jointly with changing understanding of environmental meanings, the paper offers a unique perspective on the interconnections between environmental and religious ideologies.

The other four finalists were:

Karen E Rignall (Georgetown University), The Aporias of Green Energy: Land, Sovereignty, and the Production of Solar Energy In Pre-Saharan Morocco

Vanessa Agard-Jones (New York University), A Poisoning Forewarned: The Sexual Politics of Pesticides In Martinique

Caela B. O’Connell (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Watershed Moments In a St. Lucian River Basin: Recovery, Conservation and Land-Management Strategies In the Aftermath of Natural Disaster for Fairtrade Banana Farmer.

Ruth Goldstein (University of California, Berkeley), An Ecology of the Self: When Nature Goes Public and Other Wild Thoughts

2011 Roy A. Rappaport Prize

The 2011 Roy A. Rappaport Prize was awarded to:

  • Ms. Kristina Lyons, University of California, Davis for her paper: Soil Science, Development and the “Elusive Nature” of Colombia’s Amazonian Plains
    Since 2000, the U.S.-Colombia “War on Drugs” has relied on the eradication of coca crops and their substitution by market-oriented licit ones as a central strategy to secure “rule of law” in conflict-ridden regions of Colombia. In this context, Amazonian soils have emerged as an important actor. Their productive capacities and contested governance are central to the possibility of securing ‘development’ in the countryside. On the one hand, state soil scientists are enlisted to engender a classifiable entity whose definition makes it emerge from productivity; good soils are thickly productive, market oriented and an entity that can be improved after human action. On the other hand, a growing group of farmers in the department of Putumayo engage in agricultural practices where soils are less of an object and more of an entanglement of life-sustaining relations. With ethnographic engagement on farms in Putumayo and in laboratories and government offices in Bogotá, this paper offers insights into the ways that “local” and “scientific” definitions of and practices with soils are able (or unable) to be placed in symmetry. It analyzes the challenges that soil scientists face in their attempts to bring about a fixed object of study with a corresponding “productive” potential. Furthermore, it argues that Amazonian soils not only place pressure on state classification systems and their human agents, but may also reveal the limits of development imperatives where “production” is premised on a deep-seeded divide between “nature” and “culture”.

The other four finalists were:

Mr. Shaozeng Zhang, University of California, Irvine: Valuing the Amazon Forest through Carbon Markets

Ms. Rheana (Juno) Parrenas, Harvard University: The “Slow Violence” of Nostalgia: Wildlife Centers, Corporatized Conservation, and the Human-Animal Interface of Loss.

This paper shows how indigenous human and endangered animal agents in Sarawak are brought together through their displacement from the forest.  By investigating the conditions of displacement as evidenced in the problem of ethnic Iban orangutan caretakers striving to ‘get food on the table’ as conveyed by the usage of the Malay idiom, ‘cari makan,’ and the problem of frequent forced copulation or ‘rape’ among rehabilitant orangutans, I argue that habitat loss produces new kinds of human and animal subjects through new kinds of structural violence.  Pragmatically, this article asserts that rehabilitation efforts to save a species from extinction by prioritizing reproduction instead of quality of life leads to a harmful life for those in rehabilitation. Conceptually, it shows how forest-dwelling animals are subjects that are subjected to the same problems of displacement, development, and others’ nostalgia as the historically forest-dwelling Iban people who are employed to handle them. It calls for understanding the production of environmental subjectivities through loss. This paper is a chapter from her dissertation, “Arrested Autonomy: An Ethnography of Orangutan Rehabilitation,” which investigates concepts and practices of care, independence, and mutual vulnerability that occur in encounters taking place at Malaysian wildlife centers between endangered, semi-wild orangutans and the situated people who come to care for them.

Mr. David Kneas, Yale University: Of Porphyries and Peripheries: The History and Culture of Mineral Resources in the Ecuadorian Andes

Mr. Alex Blanchette, The University of Chicago:  “The Political Ecology of the Herd”: Biosecurity and the American Factory Farm

This paper tracks the emergence of a series of biosecurity protocols as they come to structure everyday life in a 100-mile radius “company region” on the U.S. High Plains, one where seven million corporate-owned pigs are annually manufactured from pre-life to post-death. As this industrial animal herd genetically ages and becomes more prone to costly diseases, managers are being forced to find new ways to see and monitor vectors of transmission across the landscape. This has resulted in new visions of the region’s natural ecology, but it has also led to the need to discipline diverse groups of workers’ hygiene, living arrangements, and sociality. This essay is one part of a larger workplace-based ethnographic dissertation on the contemporary factory farm, eco-capitalism, and the politics of industrialization in an allegedly post-industrial United States.

Thank you to the 2011 panel judges, Drs. Amelia Moore, Andrew Mathews, and Michael Ennis-McMillan, and to Drs. Laura Ogden, Justin Nolan, and Katja Neves-Graca for serving as judges for the abstracts.

2010 Winner

11th Award given to SARAH BESKY (Wisconsin) for her paper, Garden Variety Kinship: Shifting Moral Economies, Nostalgia, and Relationships of Care on Darjeeling Tea Plantations.

Finalists: Sean Downey, Georgina Drew, Megan Ybarra, Austin Zeiderman

2009 Winner

10th Award given to NIKHIL ANAND (Stanford) for his paper, On Good Water, Social Systems and Their Leaky State.

Finalists: Jessica Barnes, Lesley L. Daspit, Maria Alejandra Perez, and James Stinson

2008 Winner

9th Award given to EIAL DUJOVNY for his paper, The Deepest Cut: Political Ecology and Marginalization in the Dredging of a New Sea Mouth at Chillika Lake, India.

Finalists: Gunra Aistars, Cindy Eisenhour, Yu Wang, Troy Wilson

2007 Winner

9th Award given to SARAH HUNT for her paper, Ecosystem Science and Engineering and the Anthropology of Trouble.

2006 Winner

8th Award given to THOMAS PEARSON for his paper, Biosafety, Anti-biotechnology Movements, and the Management of Life in Central America.

2005 Winner

7th Award given to MICHAEL HATHAWAY (Michigan) for his paper, Conservation as Development: Transnational Projects in SW China.

2004 Winner

6th Award given to JILL CONSTANTINO (Michigan) for her paper, The ‘Wild West’ of the Pacific: Peopling and Depeopling the Galapagos Islands.

2003 Winner

5th Award given to ALISON BIDWELL PEARCE (Stanford) for her paper, The Good, the Bad, and the Human: Confronting Our True Selves in Conservation.

2002 Winner

No award given in 2002.

2001 Winner

4th Award given to ANNE RADEMACHER (Yale) for her paper, Past, Present, and Future Ecologies: Constructing Degradation and Restoration on the Bagmati and Bishnumati Rivers in Katmandu.

2000 Winner

3rd Award given to ROBERT PORRO.

1999 Winner

2nd Award given to LORETTA ANN CORMIER for her paper, Monkey as Food, Monkey as Child: Symbolic Cannibalism of the Guaja of Maranhao, Brazil, and MARSHA BROFKA for her paper, A Place for Class In Environmental Discourse.

1998 Winner

1st Award given to MELISSA CHECKER (NYU) for her paper, It’s In the Air: Organizing for Environmental Equity in a Multi-Ethnic Coalition.

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