SHA at AAA 2017

Please join us for the fantastic SHA sessions below, and our Member’s Meeting and Awards Ceremony (Saturday Dec 2, 7:45 PM – 9:00 PM in Marriott, Balcony A)

Wednesday, November 29

12:00 PM – 1:45 PM  –  “Past, Present, and Future Possibilities” – Marriott, Thurgood Marshall East

4:30 PM – 6:15 PM  –  Re-examining Medical Narratives: The Uses, Limits, and Politics of “Storytelling” – Marriott, Harding

Thursday, November 30

10:15 AM – 12:00 PM  –  Trust Upheavals: Cultural Dimensions – Marriott, Taylor

4:15 PM – 6:00 PM  –  Elements – Marriott, Washington Room 1

4:15 PM – 6:00 PM  –  Songs from the Field: Songwriting, Ethnography, and Narrative-Based Art Forms – Marriott, Washington Room 2

Friday, December 1

2:00 PM – 3:45 PM  –  Family Matters: Re-Examining Children in Anthropological Fieldwork and Careers – Marriott, Roosevelt 1

2:00 PM – 3:45 PM  –  Summoning the Past: Contestations of Matter, Space, and Time in the Reproduction of State Power – Marriott, Washington Room 2

3:30 PM – 5:30 PM  –  Using Performance as Anthropological Focus and Framework (SHA Workshop) – Marriott, Park Tower 8217

Saturday, December 2

8:00 AM – 10:00 AM  –  Workshop on Ethnographic Poetry in Contemporary Anthropology – Marriott, Park Tower 8217

10:15 AM – 12:00 PM  –  Movement Matters in Martial Arts: Politics, Performance, and Meaning in Embodied Practices – Omni, Congressional A

10:15 AM – 12:00 PM  –  Seeing Violence, Violent Seeing – Marriott, Roosevelt 5

10:15 AM – 12:00 PM  –  The Intellectual Legacy of Victor and Edith Turner – Marriott, Wilson B

10:30 AM – 12:30 PM  –  Methods for Ethnographic Research Utilizing Social Media – Marriott, Park Tower 8217

10:30 AM – 12:30 PM  –  Society for Humanistic Anthropology (SHA) Writing Workshop: Crafting Creative Nonfiction – Marriott, Park Tower 8212

12:15 PM – 3:00 PM  –  Society for Humanistic Anthropology (SHA) Board Meeting – Marriott, Park Tower 8226 (for board members only)

7:45 PM – 9:00 PM  –  Society for Humanistic Anthropology (SHA) Member’s Meeting and Awards Ceremony – Marriott, Balcony A

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Congrats to the 2017 winners of the SHA Ethnographic Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Contest

SHA Ethnographic Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Contest Winners
1st Place Elisabeth Yarbakhsh Call
2nd Place Caitrin Lynch A Portrait of Judy Garrity
3rd Place Brynn Champney On a Hill With No Name
Honorable Mention Kristen Ghodsee Market Economics
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Announcing the Winners of the 2017 Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing

The Society for Humanistic Anthropology is delighted to announce the winners of the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing. We are grateful to the work and commitment of the book prize committee: Karen Richman, chair, and members Abigail Adams, Cristiana Giordano and Lisa Stevenson. The committee evaluated seventy-five ethnographies for their originality, innovative methods, experience-near approach, quality of writing, presentation and engagement with humanistic anthropology and anthropological scholarship in general. We chose the ethnographies that we found to be exemplars of the best ethnographic writing, the ones destined to make a significant impact on the doing and writing of ethnography. The winners exemplify the broad and deep diversity of anthropologists’ approaches to their craft.


1st Prize Emma Tarlo Entanglement: The Secret Lives of Hair Oneworld Press 2016
2nd Prize Anand Pandian Reel World: An Anthropology of Creation Duke University Press 2015
3rd Prize Robert Desjarlais Subject to Death: Life and Loss in a Buddhist World University of Chicago Press 2016
Honorable Mention David Hughes Energy without Conscience: Oil, Climate Change, and Complicity Duke University Press                     2017
Honorable Mention Janet McIntosh Unsettled: Denial and Belonging Among White Kenyans University of California Press 2016


Congratulations to the winners and to all who submitted their books to the prize committee.

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2017 SHA Ethnographic Poetry Competition Call for Submissions – Oct 15 deadline

The Society for Humanistic Anthropology announces our annual poetry competition as a means to encourage scholars to use alternative literary genres to explore anthropological concerns. These concerns may be any of those associated with any of the five fields of anthropology: Archaeological, Biological, Linguistic, Sociocultural and Applied.

Deadline: October 15, 2017                 There is no entry fee for this competition.

Please email your entry (no more than three unpublished poems) as a single pdf document to: [email protected] without the author’s name (anonymized), along with a separate cover page with the following information by the Deadline of October 15, 2017:


The anonymous entry pdf must include an *ethnographic statement (of no more than 400 words) which connects the poem(s) submitted to anthropology which will be taken into account as the judges make their award selections. Examples of ethnographic statements can be found in the poems published in Anthropology and Humanism (

Before you submit a manuscript to the competition, please consider exploring the work of the ethnographic poets we have published. We’re drawn to technical virtuosity combined with abundant imagination, vivid imagery, musical approaches to fresh language, risk-taking, and an ability to convey penetrating insights into human experience. We seek a layer of trust concerning the writer’s experience and perspective as both anthropologist and creative writer, one who is ethically responsible in terms of representing the other, one who is able to locate his or her reader in the context of the ethnographic study and reveal anthropological themes associated with any of the fields of anthropology.

JUDGES: Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, Nomi Stone

Winning entries and honorable mentions will be recognized at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Washington DC in November 29-December 3, 2017. The first-place winner(s) will receive a certificate and award of $100. All entries will be considered for publication in the Society’s journal, Anthropology and Humanism. (Note that Membership in AAA or an institutional subscription is required for digital access to the journal and SHA membership with the paid print option is required to receive a print issue.)

Image by takomabibelot used under a Creative Commons license 

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2017 Victor Turner Prize Competition – Deadline May 5

This is for the 2017 competition – please see the 2018 information here

The Society for Humanistic Anthropology (SHA) announces the 25th annual juried competition for the Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing. The late Victor Turner devoted his career to seeking an accessible language that would reopen anthropology to the human subject, and the prize will be given in recognition of innovative books that further this project.

Eligible genres include single and co-authored ethnographic monographs, narratives, historical accounts, biographies, memoirs, dramas, or single-authored collections of essays, short stories, or poems. A $1,000 first-place, a $500 second place and a $250 third-place prize, for books published 2015 through 2017, will be awarded at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Washington, DC in November 2017.

Books may be entered into the competition by authors, book editors, or colleagues. No formal letter of nomination is needed. Books published in 2015-2016 entered in last year’s competition may be resubmitted this year with the appropriate entry fee.

Submission fee: For authors who are already SHA members, the entry fee is $25/book. For authors who are not SHA members, the entry fee is $75/book. (Publishers: for all books you submit, please check with the author first to discover whether s/he is a current SHA member and please encourage authors to join SHA). The fee may be paid either online here (log into Anthro Gateway to get the SHA member rate of $25), or by check (made out to the American Anthropological Association) with the Turner Submission-Fee-Form sent to:

Kathy Ano, Controller
American Anthropological Association
2300 Clarendon Blvd, Suite 1301
Arlington, VA 22201-3386 

Send one copy of the book to be entered to each of the four judges (a total of 4 copies): 

Victor Turner Prize,
c/o Karen Richman
230 McKenna Hall
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556

Victor Turner Prize,
c/o Cristiana Giordano
321 Young Hall
Department of anthropology
One Shields Ave
University of California
Davis, CA 95616

Victor Turner Prize,
c/o Lisa Stevenson
Department of Anthropology
McGill University
Room 718, Leacock Building
855 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, QC H3A 2T7

Victor Turner Prize,
c/o Abigail Adams
Department of Anthropology
1615 Stanley Street
Central Connecticut State University
New Britain, CT 06053

All who enter the contest must include a cover letter with four items of required information:

  1. book title, publication year, and publisher,
  2. author’s contact information including mailing address, all telephone numbers and e-mail address;
  3. author’s biographical sketch (1-2 paragraphs) including highest degree awarded, discipline, and institution;
  4. current affiliation (university or otherwise).

Biographical information will be used for presenting the winners and publicizing the results of the competition and will not be used for judging the quality of the entries. Entrants may also include an optional short statement about intellectual training/ orientation, and the circumstances surrounding the research/ writing of the book.

Please send the cover letter and accompanying statements and biographical information to the chair of the Victor Turner Prize Committee, Karen Richman, [email protected], 574-631-8146.

The deadline for receipt of the required materials is May 5, 2017.

All inquiries should be directed to Karen Richman, [email protected].



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Call for Submissions: Society for Humanistic Anthropology 2017 Ethnographic Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Competition

The Society for Humanistic Anthropology is pleased to announce that we are opening our annual writing contest for Ethnographic Fiction and Creative Nonfiction. We celebrate the use of creative literary prose genres to explore anthropological concerns, and we encourage you to share your previously unpublished work with us.

As a guideline, ethnographic fiction and creative nonfiction use literary elements to bring stories to life and engage the reader. Whether fiction or nonfiction, these creative prose pieces reflect insights about the real world seen through an anthropological lens or reflecting an anthropological sensibility (related to any field of anthropology).

Submissions should not exceed 20 pages typed double-spaced, and need to work as stand-alone stories. There is a limit of one submission per applicant. Submissions must be previously unpublished and not currently under consideration elsewhere.

We do expect contestants to be affiliated with the field or practice of anthropology and/or ethnography in some manner. There is no entry fee for this competition.

Submission deadline is June 1, 2017.

Please email your entry as two pdf documents to: [email protected]

The entry should consist of two files:

  • Your story (double spaced) with title but without the author’s name (anonymized), PLUS an extra final page with a statement of no more than 400 words that answers the question “how is this piece anthropologically informed and in what ways has your background in the field contributed to it?” This statement will be taken into account as the judges make their award selections.
  • A separate cover page with your full name, title of your submission, mailing address, email address, and institutional affiliation (if applicable).

JUDGES: Julia Offen (Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Editor, Anthropology and Humanism), John Wood (Professor, University of North Carolina Asheville), and Katrina Daly Thompson (Professor, University of Wisconsin Madison)

Winning entries and honorable mentions will be recognized in a ceremony at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in Washington DC 11/29/2017 – 12/03/2017.

Winning submissions will be considered for publication in the Society’s journal, Anthropology and Humanism. All winners will receive a certificate, and the first place winner will receive an award of $100.

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Society for Humanistic Anthropology – CFP for Washington, DC 2017

SHA welcomes a variety of individual paper and session proposals for consideration at this year’s Annual Meeting in Washington, DC (November 29 – Sunday, December 3, 2017). The theme for the meeting is “Anthropology Matters!,” which provides a rich context for exploring the innovative and exciting work conducted under the broad rubric of humanistic anthropology.

For the 2017 Annual Meeting, the SHA programming committee consists of: Erik Aasland ([email protected]) & Nicole Peterson ([email protected]).

Erik and Nicole will be more than happy to work with you on your paper, poster, roundtable presentations and sessions, or workshop ideas. SHA encourages innovative formats, including poster sessions, extended readings, and fostering more dynamic discussion periods. For all submissions, participants must abide by the AAA rules regarding roles, registration, deadlines, and fees: No exceptions.

There are many different ways for members to participate in the AAA meetings through SHA. All submissions are due April 14, 2017 unless otherwise indicated. The online abstract submission system is now open for all proposal types. Here are the types of submissions possible:

Panels, Sessions, and Workshops

  • Executive Panels (were due 2/16)
  • Roundtables (Due 4/14 @ 5pm)
  • Invited Sessions (Due 4/14 @ 5pm)
  • Volunteered Sessions (Due 4/14 @5pm)
  • Workshops (contact Erik or Nicole with a brief description of the workshop topic, audience, and who will lead it by 4/14 @ 5pm; also due through AAA submission form by the same deadline)

Visit here for a description of each submission type:

Most popular SHA submissions categories:

Individually Volunteered Paper/Poster Presentations – Due 5pm 4/14, 2017 online

This includes all individual paper/poster submissions. To submit a proposal, go to AAA website and follow the links to the call for papers. A presentation abstract of up to 250 words is required. Meeting registration forms and fees must be submitted for each participant. Submission deadline is 5:00 pm EST (10:00 pm GMT) April 14, 2017.Be sure to indicate if you wish SHA to review your submission.

SHA Invited/Sponsored Session Proposals – Due 5pm 4/14, 2017 online

This includes all paper/poster sessions and roundtable proposals. All Session Proposals (paper, poster, or roundtable sessions) must include a session abstract of up to 500 words and information for all participants (including individual abstracts for paper/poster sessions, and any technical needs for your session). Submission will be through the AAA website. We highly encourage anyone wanting consideration for invited session status to contact us ASAP, ideally by March 20, 2017.

Here is how the process for getting invited status works:

  1. You submit your complete panel and ask for it to be reviewed by SHA;
  1. You indicate that you want your panel to also be reviewed by a second and possibly a third section. You can also write them in advance.
  1. The section’s program chairs review all of the abstracts submitted to their section. They then proceed to score and rank them.
  1. Then the negotiations begin. Program reviewers from the various sections look for other sections open to co-invite panels. They do this because each section only has so many points to use to invite panels, but co-invited panels costs half as much.

Go here for registration and more information:

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Capturing the Ethnographic Surfeit: A few poems from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology Poetry Workshop

From the 2016 AAA meetings in Minneapolis
Lead by Ather Zia & Adrie Kusserow

One of the exercises in the Poetry Workshop included that the participants share an old or a new poem written in the workshop itself based on a field experience, and then a partner wrote a poem as a response. A few poems of this nature are reproduced here for your reading pleasure and to give you a little peep into the workshop and the beauties it produces. Join us next year at the AAA!

Valerie Borey

Skogfjorden Norwegian Language Village,
Concordia Language Villages, Bemidji MN
On Sunday afternoons we take to the woods, counselors and youth. Protective of this space, counselors pair up and make a bridge with their arms; children pass beneath them into the forest, into quiet.
The younger children are thrashing through the woods, peeling birch bark off twigs, daring friends to tumble down the steep hill, where the setting sun meets the chill of Buck Lake. They speak in hushed tones, aware of the sense of sacredness, occasionally letting out a squeal of delight, and then shushing themselves.
Older children sit interspersed amongst the birch trees, writing in journals or staring off into space in contemplation. Standing near the campfire, Tove will read a story from a children’s book whose cover she has concealed in brown wrapper. Sometimes Tora will have brought her cello. She plays this, strains of wild and lonely music intertwining themselves amidst the trees.
Staff will sing, Ta nå tid til å nyte skogen. “Take now time to value the woods.” These woods. This space. These people. This is what makes them cry. They think of what’s ahead; they dread the “going back,” out there, into the “real world.”

Nelli Sargsyan’s response to Valerie

How do we reconcile mourning and festivity?
See how I already assume there is a tension between the two? I came to learn it, didn’t I?
Then I can unlearn it.
I want to create this ritual space where I can hold both together: mourning, honoring, and embodying/literally wearing festivity.
I am so humbled by your courage to be vulnerable in public.
Committed before … mom’s passing, I noted.
I am humbled by your ability of processing loss without imposition, taking on, or rather wearing, heritage with grace. Hard-core vulnerability in public, I’d say.  But what touches me most, is the commitment to those around, commitment to more than just the self, to the communal, and through that to the self as well.

Nelli Sargsyan

I am in a cab, in downtown Yerevan, it is middle of August, I have just had dental implants, and I can feel heaviness in my jaw. The cab smells like cigarettes and some chemical air freshener that is making me nauseous.
But is this in Yerevan? The nauseating smell of the air freshener, or New York City? I think the air freshener was in the New York City cab on my way to the airport to fly to Yerevan. The cigarette smell is in the cab in Yerevan. Of course it is, the driver just asked me if he can smoke (despite the sign that says: no smoking).
I say, sure
So many cars.
Sitting in the back, I am bracing myself, I have become unaccustomed to the driving in Yerevan. I wasn’t a driver when I lived here.
Coming back as a driver year after year still won’t help me get used to unexpected lane changes and driving so close.
I am here to talk to people who I hope know what needs to be done for transformation, because I don’t.
I don’t know what to do. Do they?
I trust their tired calm
Because I don’t have it.

Valerie Borey’s response to Nelli

Man Running Alongside

I was in the cab.
There is a man running alongside the cab.
We were stopped at a streetlight, and when it changed, he wouldn’t let go. His eyes glass, his hands curled around the base of the window.
He points to a storefront and says, “For $2, I’ll smash that window for you.” The $2 will go towards food, maybe, the price of life.
Man running alongside it.
I don’t take him up on it. Don’t give him the two dollars. Don’t let him smash windows on my behalf, even though I knew it feeds him, even though I know it keeps him, him.
$800. What the window costs. What the man costs when the window owner shoots him in the head. When he is chopped into pieces for what he has done. $2. The threshold of corruption. The market value of this
Man running alongside, the
Man about to get hurt because he is running alongside.
I know how easy it is, to cross that threshold. I keep it where I can see it, right there in the window of that cab, in the smashed glass, in the eyes and the offer of the
Man running alongside.
He is going to get himself killed,
Running alongside that way.
That is what they are saying in the streets.

Brynn Champney

I’m in Kinyinya, Rwanda, along the one road, on the one hill, that I’m allowed to walk alone.
Though I had to fight, even for this.
It’s always bright and there are always goats bleating and children staring.
I came here to learn.
I came here to see, to smell, to hear, to listen.
I came here to feel. I came here because I’ve never been anywhere.
I stayed here because no one else wants to.

Ather Zia’s response to Brynn

Brynn and Chantelle
She is just Chantelle
The woman I, Brynn lived with
We never had a conversation
I just heard her story
She is just Chantelle
Long given up for deaf and mute
Her head had been smashed,
left for dead,
she bore a son
From the rape [yes, the same you know Rwanda from]
She is just Chantelle
Giving me her son,
To bring him to the United States
But I leave alone
She is just Chantelle
We have never been face to face
Since her son died of third degree burns
From hot beans,
Maybe, the dinner I ate with her countless times
She is just Chantelle
What will she say to me?
If anything –
Does she wonder
if I would have brought her son to the United States
Would be still be alive?
She is just Chantelle,
without a surname
All kinds of men from her life gone
and I, Brynn have questions

Ather Zia

She says,
“you are always in arrival
in the night, again at dawn,
and in-between, with each new breath,
and the old one –
and when the morning is quiet,
sometimes a shadow, sometimes a voice,
sometimes a brush against my hair
you come often, you have to
you are always arriving…
at the door
It doesn’t close but
sways back heavy
someone is outside?
Let it be –
I used to fear anyone could barge in
And those damned soldiers –
Now the door must remain open;
it has to
my lined face our new map
of grief
it won’t let you lose way
I keep looking at the bend in the alley
From where they took you
The specter,
you beckon
I step out,
Back then a baby
Once I lost you in the bazaar
only this time,
You are waiting for me,
instead of candy you want justice

Brynn’s response to Ather

Don’t shut the door on possibility-
I need to breathe.
Like a child insisting her door remain cracked at night;
In this case the monster is finality.

The door stays  open because I must stay open to the world-
The world where my son is, somewhere.
The world that took my son,
I must also offer myself up to.

Even to the leopards.
If my son is in a leopard’s belly,
I must open my door
To the leopards too.

Am I waiting for someone?
At the very least,
I am waiting.

I will remain open.
To the leopards,
To the cold,
To the world that took my son.

Don’t shut the door
Don’t end the story
Don’t pronounce him dead
Call him disappeared
He is out there
I will keep breathing.

Poet Bios:

Nelli Sargsyan [nsargsyan [at] marlboro [dot] edu]

A native of Yerevan, Armenia, Nelli is currently assistant professor of anthropology at Marlboro College in Vermont, where she often team-teaches multidisciplinary courses with colleagues from a variety of disciplines, such as visual and performing arts, religion, and politics.

Brynn Champney [bchampn [at] emory [dot] edu]

Currently pursuing her PhD in Anthropology at Emory University Brynn’s research focuses on kinship as a community coping mechanism among Child-Headed Households in East Africa.

Valerie Borey [vborey [at] cord [dot] edu]

Valerie is a playwright, poet, and fiction writer. Currently she is the Assistant Dean of Language Discovery Programs for Concordia Language Villages.

Ather Zia [ather.zia [at] unco [dot] edu]

A native of Kashmir, Ather is an Assistant Professor at University of Northern Colorado. She is a poet, writes short-fiction and is the founder-editor of Kashmir Lit at

PS: Thank you also to Chris Gonzales (Ohio University), and Carole Giles Banks (poet-professor) for your generous sharing in the workshop.  


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2016 Ethnographic Poetry Writing Contest Winners

The Society for Humanistic Anthropology is pleased to announce the 2016 Ethnographic Poetry Writing Contest Winners:

First Prize: Eleanor Stanford, (3 Poems) “Afterbirth,” “Dona França,” “Dona Bela, Midwife of Lençóis”

Second Prize: Abigail Carl-Klassen, “Mennonite border crossing”

Third Prize: Francesca Mezzenzana, “Sacha Muskuy” (Forest Dream)

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2016 Ethnographic Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Writing Contest Winners

The Society for Humanistic Anthropology is pleased to announce the 2016 Ethnographic Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Writing Contest Winners:

First Prize: Katrina Daly Thompson, “Secrets of a Swahili Marriage”
Second Prize: Alexandra Vieux Frankel, “Waiting for Firat”
Third Prize: Xenia A. Cherkaev, “How grades had been gotten for Penguins and Money

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