Award Winning Anthropological Writing

I just went through the “Section Prizes” page of the AAA website and listed all the award winning books and articles listed there. I limited myself to works published after 2008 which I could find references to online. That means I included books listed in Amazon.com which only received “honorable mentions,” but did not list award winning student essays for which no online link was given. Unfortunately a lot of the links on the AAA site were dead, and many AAA sections don’t properly list their award winners, or haven’t updated their pages since 2007. The list is also missing award winning English language works from other anthropology associations outside the US. I’d love to add such works to the list as well if someone can point me to such lists. Or if you have a Mendeley account, you can add them yourself.

Since I haven’t yet read any of the linked works, I won’t comment on what the list tells us about the state of our discipline, but I imagine a thorough investigation of the listed works might be able to tell us something – especially if we were able to compare it with a similar list from a decade ago. I did notice that about half of the listed ethnographies are available on Amazon Kindle for about $15 which encourages me to think that I might actually read some of them!

Without further ado, here is the list.

17 thoughts on “Award Winning Anthropological Writing

  1. Thanks for this Kerim — I gotta catch up on these! Btw, are you using Mendeley regularly now, or alternatively, do you know if Mendeley ever added a AAA citation format? I trawled around on the forum, but can’t find anything.

  2. I actually use Sente for writing papers. But since Sente lacks a nice browser plugin I depend on Mendeley to quickly add references from Chrome.

    Also, Mendeley allows for creating public bibliographies and sharing with non-Mac using colleagues in a way that Sente does not.

  3. Thanks — I’ll give it a look. Am trying to find something workable while waiting for the wonderful Zotero folks to unveil their plays-nice-with-Chrome version.

  4. Kerim, you speculate that this list says something about the state of our discipline. I am struck by the low number of writings about Native North America. I see Jessica Cattelino’s work, High Stakes (Seminole sovereignty and gaming) but nothing else. This is consistent with conversations that I have with some colleagues that note that Native North America is increasingly on the periphery of anthropology. Are there explanations for this trend? Or, am I seeing something that isn’t really there?

    I am unable to send a comparable list of award-winning Canadian anthropology, although I’ll keep my eyes open for one. And, I’m not sure that the dearth of writing about Native North America extends to Canada, although I have written recently about my own struggles to find readable ethnographies for my classes about Canada’s First Nations.

  5. @Tad.

    I am a Melanesianist, but my impression is that Native North America is no longer really on the radar of many. I can’t even really remember the last time I read about a North American group, but it was probably something really old like Hallowell.

    As a side note, many Melanesianists feel the same way about Melanesian ethnography. Perhaps there is a long term trend here, but anthropology is faddish and the boom areas are probably elsewhere (I would speculate Eastern Europe, South/SE Asia, Western Europe).

  6. In the US Native American Studies seem to be doing quite well with several journals and departments. Maybe they have replaced the Anthropological interest.

  7. @ Jim – Interesting perspective from Melanesia. Thanks for sharing. I suppose you’re adding more support for the faddish nature of anthropological research. I would concur that North American research seems to be out of style – and that these things do ebb and flow. Kerim’s point, as I take it. Coincidently, I understand that there is a new collection of Hallowell’s essays out!

    @ L Moore. I wonder. And, if the shift that you point to is the case, I wonder why? Surely anthropology departments don’t feel that ‘someone else is now doing it’.

  8. Tad, There are only about 22 books listed and 1 is related to Native N. Americans. Given that some of the AAA sections are dedicated to subjects that are unlikely to be about Native N. Americans like the Society for E. Asian Anthropology, that doesn’t seem particularly “low” to me. It’s about what I’d expect.

  9. Tad, I teach an undergraduate course on Native North America and would love to exchange reading lists. I have assigned Cattelino’s work. Also Orin Starn’s Ishi’s Brain. But I end up assigning more history and interdisciplinary work–e.g., Phil Deloria. This past year I tried to introduce a more international perspective and used Sissons’ First Peoples (he’s an anthropologist). I thought that worked well and plan to do more of that.

  10. @ Kerim – OK, that sounds reasonable. Perhaps I’m projecting something onto the list that isn’t there.

    @ Molly – sure, I’d be happy to exchange lists or continue a discussion about Native North America anthropology and classroom resources. That’d be great. Perhaps we should do that over email? You can find an address for me via my blog, linked to my name.

  11. The article referenced below is an excellent place to start for those wishing to get up to speed on contemporary ethnography of Native North America. There have of course been publications in the intervening years.

    Strong, Pauline Turner. “Recent ethnogrpahic research on North American indigenous peoples.” Annual Review of Anthropology 34 (2005): 253–68. doi: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.34.081804.120446

  12. Tad, my comment was more speculation that anything else. With that said, things have changed in the US due to many tribes having much more power and money due to casinos. They have also started their own cultural heritage programs, expanding their language and oral history efforts into ethnic studies type programs, including archaeology. Today, they can buy ethnographic studies if they want. While they tend to seek allies they can also push ethnographers away. Native American Studies programs seem to have expanded with that process better than Anthropology ones because NAS programs are generally well staffed with Native Americans. They like working with each other.

    Here in the Puget Sound I find the “Respecting the Ancestors” report done by the Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group (Coast Salish) very helpful in my work. Your students may also find it interesting.

  13. Well, here’s one thing they have in common on first glance: award winning books appear to be long. Of the books listed here, only a small handful are under 300 pages. More than that are closer to 400.

  14. I love the idea of this list, but without references it’s hard to use. Some of the links don’t seem to work, and without the references, one doesn’t know where to find these award-winning pieces…

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