2015 RAPPAPORT STUDENT PRIZE COMPETITION
The Anthropology and Environment Society (AES) of the American Anthropological Association is pleased to announce the 2015 Rappaport Student Prize competition. To apply, interested students are invited to submit an abstract by 18 March 2015 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 officers of AES 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 Nov. 18-22 in Denver, Colorado).
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 AES on or before October 1, 2015. 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 AES 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 2015 Rappaport Student Prize, which consists of a $250 cash award, to be announced at the AES 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 AES related careers. Participating provides an opportunity for students to receive constructive feedback on their work by junior and senior scholars in the AES 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 18 March 2015, to be e-mailed to the organizer of this year’s competition, Rebecca Zarger, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
**NOTE: A&E award committees follow NSF guidelines regarding potential conflict of interest between applicants and reviewers.**
2014 Roy A. Rappaport Prize
The 2014 Roy A. Rappaport Prize was a tie awarded to:
Dr. Stefanie Graetner (U.C. Davis) for her paper, “Metallic Ecologies: Alchemies of the Self.”
Lead contamination appeared on the radar of Peruvian environmental politics in 1998, when studies revealed alarmingly high levels of lead exposure in the port city of El Callao, where Andean minerals are trucked, stored, and shipped to foreign markets, as well as in the Andean city of La Oroya, home to Peru’s largest poly-metallic smelter. Despite generations of impacts by the mineral industry, La Oroya and El Callao suddenly became hotbeds for environmental advocacy. Neither recall zones of typical environmental advocacy, however, both summon images of industrialization gone awry in apocalyptic fashion, constituting what historian Brian Black has called “sacrificial landscapes” (2000). In this paper I discuss environmental politics, when common notions of “environment” seem inapplicable. I argue that in both El Callao and La Oroya, the figure of the vulnerable, metal-afflicted “children of lead” emerges as the site of political contestation, while mothers, viewed as distanced from the sphere of labor, became the site of advocacy and intervention. In particular, health advocacy through food offered a way to cope with the newfound knowledge of lead exposure and its potential harms, attending to forms of care applicable to families who could not afford, or did not want, to leave their “contaminated” environs. Unable to affect an external environment, I argue, advocates turned their politics inward, to the alchemic adjustments of the body’s internal environments, where better nutrition thwarts the harms of toxic metals.
Jerry Zee (U.C. Berkeley) for his paper, “Out of Sand: Ecological Construction and Economic Environments in Desertifying China.”
Since the early 2000s, the demand to protect Beijing’s important atmosphere from windblown particulate matter and dust has crystallized new constellations of governmental techniques to stabilize the shifty dunescapes of desertifying regions of the country. In Alxa, western Inner Mongolia, a notorious ‘cradle of dust storms’ undergoing massive desertification, the official task of ‘ecological construction’ has reframed the more traditional political tasks of social management and economic development into parts of a constellation techniques through which a stabilized sandy topography might be achieved. That is, attempts to govern social life of ex-herders, through the implementation of grazing bans, have become fully imbricated with transforming the geophysical and botanical profile of the region. While grazing bans have dismantled an economy and life based on grazing, forestry officials have understood them as part of the starting conditions for a new economy to emerge, to be managed through the creation of an economic environment to channel human behaviors in such a way that ecological construction can happen as an effect. I argue that rather than an environmentality, where subjective transformation is central to environmental governance, here, ecological effects are secured, by the forestry administration, through the strategic creation of market and economic environments through which people who are would-be environmental threats are neutralized by being made into market subjects. I argue that ‘environment’ in its multiple forms – natural, economic – shifts from an object of government into a technique of government.
Past Roy A. Rappaport Prize Winners
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.
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.
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
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
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
9th Award given to SARAH HUNT for her paper, Ecosystem Science and Engineering and the Anthropology of Trouble.
8th Award given to THOMAS PEARSON for his paper, Biosafety, Anti-biotechnology Movements, and the Management of Life in Central America.
7th Award given to MICHAEL HATHAWAY (Michigan) for his paper, Conservation as Development: Transnational Projects in SW China.
6th Award given to JILL CONSTANTINO (Michigan) for her paper, The ‘Wild West’ of the Pacific: Peopling and Depeopling the Galapagos Islands.
5th Award given to ALISON BIDWELL PEARCE (Stanford) for her paper, The Good, the Bad, and the Human: Confronting Our True Selves in Conservation.
No award given in 2002.
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.
3rd Award given to ROBERT PORRO.
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.
1st Award given to MELISSA CHECKER (NYU) for her paper, It’s In the Air: Organizing for Environmental Equity in a Multi-Ethnic Coalition.