2016 Graduate and Undergraduate Paper Awards and Honorable Mentions

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 AfAA Student Paper Awards. Once again, we received strong submissions for both awards. Thank you to all Board Members who submitted and recommended papers.

In particular, we would like to acknowledge the Macalester College Department of Anthropology on the consistently high quality of their submissions over the past several years. This year, a Macalester student will receive the Nancy “Penny” Schwartz Undergraduate Essay Award, and we look forward to recognizing the department in their home state of Minnesota. As a result, the undergraduate award winner should be able to attend the meetings in Minneapolis without any travel cost.

The names of the award winners and the honorable mentions are listed below.

Bennetta Jules-Rosette Graduate Essay Award
($500 cash award for winner)

Winner: Eduardo Santana (University of California San Diego), “The Black Roots of Argentine Tango: Embodied Identities in the Dancing Diaspora” (Nominated by Ivan Evans, University of California San Diego)
Eduardo Santana’s theoretically rich essay explores the African roots of Tango in terms of theories of embodiment and performance. He touches upon a broad range of literature on the Black Atlantic and problematizes Tango as seen from perspectives of global scholarship. He addresses the diasporic theories of Robert Farris Thompson and Paul Gilroy in juxtaposition with both the writings and performances of Argentinian and Angolan Tango masters. The broad theoretical scope of his research is noteworthy, and his innovative contributions to studies of communication, dance, and cosmopolitanism are commendable.

Honorable Mention: Carrie McLachlin Leslie (University of Oklahoma), “African Women’s Resistance and the Reclamation of their Environment” (Nominated by Betty Harris, University of Oklahoma)
Carrie McLachlin Leslie’s essay addresses African environmentalism, including Kenya’s Greenbelt movement, in terms of the contributions of women to environmental change and preservation across the African continent. Comparative examples are drawn from a broad range of countries, highlighting Kenya, Nigeria, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, among others. The paper also advocates approaches to sustainable energy reforms across the African continent. It offers a strong model of applied anthropological research.

Nancy “Penny” Schwartz Undergraduate Essay Award
($100 cash award for winner + conference registration)

Winner: Nana Charlene Elfreda Adubea Toa-Kwapong (Macalester College), “Alienation,(Re)integration or Something in Between: Return Migration to Accra, Ghana and Cultural Liminality” (Nominated by Olga González, Macalester College)
Nana Charlene Elfreda Adubea Toa-Kwapong, also known as Dubie, breaks new ground in her study of African migrants who return to their homes in Ghana. She draws upon extensive field research and in-depth interviews with returning immigrants, who narrate their experiences abroad and their perceptions of return. After returning to Ghana, they are often viewed as foreigners and outsiders who have to readjust to their home cultures. In summarizing their narratives, she states: “Return is about more than being in Ghana or Africa at all times – it is about reconnecting with the motherland.” The migrants return with a Pan-African perception of their experiences. This essay is an excellent exploration of diasporic studies seen from an innovative and original perspective that examines migration as a complete circuit.

Honorable Mention: Jamie Franzese (University of Oklahoma), “Democratization and Women’s Issues: A Comparative Analysis of Tunisia and Egypt” (Nominated by Betty Harris, University of Oklahoma)
Jamie Franzese’s essay examines women’s empowerment in relation to the Arab Spring protest movements of 2011. The essay provides a multifaceted comparison of political participation, occurrences of gendered violence, women’s health resources, and advocacy networks in Tunisia and Egypt. Jamie argues that, although democratic institutions are much stronger in Tunisia than in Egypt, this fact does not translate into noticeable improvements in gender equality. We commend this comparative approach to gender studies and political anthropology.

Congratulations to all the award winners and honorable mentions, and we look forward to seeing everyone in Minneapolis.