2015 Graduate and Undergraduate Paper Awards and Honorable Mentions

After careful review of many great submissions, we are pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 AfAA Graduate and Undergraduate Paper Awards.

Bennetta Jules-Rosette Graduate Essay Award

The winner of this year’s Bennetta Jules-Rosette Graduate Essay Award is Apostolos Andrikopoulos of the University of Amsterdam.  Apostolos’ essay, “The Process of Kinship in a Setting of Civic Inequality: West African Migrants Struggling Over Scarce Resources in Europe,” is an insightful examination of kinship patterns and international migration. The paper utilizes an ethnographic and humanistic perspective to analyze the contemporary phenomenon of transnational mobility, which is often examined primarily through a macro-sociological lens. Drawing upon ethnographic studies of African migrants in Greece, Andrikopoulos analyzes kinship patterns as a counterbalance to institutional structures of civic inequality. This paper offers strong potential for linking the history of anthropological theory with studies of migration and social change in contemporary society.

Additionally, an Honorable Mention for the Graduate Essay Award goes to Dominic Granello of the University of Oklahoma. Dominic’s paper, “BRICS, the New Development Bank, and South Africa: A Look at Changes in the Global and Regional Development Structure, and South Africa’s Role as a Regional Power,” provides an anthropologically-inflected study of international political and economic relations. Focusing on South Africa’s position in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) coalition, Granello outlines new pathways of lending and new frameworks of international partnership. BRICS elevates South Africa’s level of political influence and opens financial channels to the New Development Bank. This holds the promise of separating African and regional development from the Bretton Woods institutions. The paper makes an interesting contribution to economic anthropology.

Nancy “Penny” Schwartz Undergraduate Essay Award

Sara Yukimi Saltman of Macalester College is the winner of this year’s Nancy “Penny” Schwartz Undergraduate Essay Award.  Sara’s honors thesis, “The Grass that Grows on Top of Bodies: Women, Marriage and the Construction of Collective Narratives in Rural Rwanda,” draws upon extensive ethnographic fieldwork in southern Rwanda. Saltman presents the narratives of Rwandan women who formed an economic cooperative in the aftermath of the genocide. The research is emotionally powerful and theoretically rich. Saltman argues that women in the collective narrativize the “social idiom” of marriage in the wake of extreme social and political upheaval: “the women fulfill responsibilities as female-heads of households in the physical absence and narrative presence of husbands.” Sara has also applied her social justice focus beyond the classroom. She co-founded STRIVE, a campus group promoting classroom inclusivity and a more diverse faculty, staff, and administration.

Anna Yamamuro of the University of California, San Diego, will receive an Honorable Mention for the Undergraduate Essay Award for her paper “Student Activism in South Africa: Apartheid-Era Challenges and Lasting Effects.” Anna’s paper examines student activism in South Africa from 1976 to 2014. The study innovatively connects grade-school activism, including the well-known Soweto uprising, with activism in higher education and beyond. The paper’s theorization is solid and complex for an undergraduate essay. Yamamuro employs a dialectical model to present student activism as a cyclical process of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. She ends the paper with an examination of the current situation and the lessons that historical activism offers to the ongoing cycles of racial and educational reform and equality in South Africa.

Congratulations to all our awardees on their great work!