Student Paper Prize

APLA Graduate Student Paper Prize Competition

The APLA Board invites individuals who are students in a graduate degree-granting program (including M.A., Ph.D., J.D., LL.M., S.J.D. etc.) to send papers centering the analysis of political and/or legal institutions and processes. We encourage submissions that expand the purview of political and legal anthropology and challenge us to think in new ways about power, politics, and law.

Submitted papers (limited to one per person) should be original, unpublished works that are not currently under consideration for publication in any journal. Submissions should also not be simultaneously submitted to any other prize competition with a publication option. Authors of submitted works commit to giving right of first refusal to the peer-reviewed journal of the Association for Political and Legal Anthropology, PoLAR: The Political and Legal Anthropology Review.

APLA awards a cash prize of $350, plus travel expenses of up to $650 if the prize winner attends the 2023 annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association (Toronto) to receive the prize in person. The prize winner will be announced in Anthropology News, and the winning paper will be considered for publication in PoLAR. If warranted, an Honorable Mention may also be named.

Authors must be enrolled in a graduate program through at least May 1, 2023. Papers should not exceed 8,000 words (including notes and references) and should follow the style guidelines of PoLAR, which are detailed in the American Anthropological Association Style Guide. Please review the submission instructions carefully, as they have been revised.

Submission Instructions

Papers must be submitted by July 31, 2023.  Please submit your paper via this form. To facilitate a blind review process, your paper manuscript should not contain any personal identifiers, but include the title in the header of each page. Papers longer than 8000 words will be automatically disqualified. You will be informed about the decision regarding your paper no later than October 1, 2023. If you have any questions, please contact Mark Schuller at

Past Awardees

2022: Neil Nory Kaplan-Kelly, Tactical Democracy: Brexit, Voting, and Conflict Transformation in Northern Ireland

2021: Hannah Burnett, Making Land: Situating Property on Louisiana’s Coastal Frontier.

2020: Tali Ziv, Finessing the System: On the racialization of U.S. urban informality

2019: Ishani Dasgupta, The Burning Body and the Withering Body: Embodied Resistance Practices in the Tibetan Community

2018: Dario Valles, Chill Pills, Play and Panic in a California Administrative Court: State Power and the Co-Construction of Child and Adulthood

2017: Lindsey Feldman, Selfhood in Flames: Social Categorization and Identity in Arizona’s Prison Wildfire Program

2016: Michelle Rooney, “We Do Not Qualify for Free Education”: Citizenship in The Segregated Political Economy of Service Delivery in Urban Papua New Guinea

2015:  Felix Stein, Timed Out? How Business Consultants Create, Endure and Spread Capitalism’s ‘Acute Temporality’

2014: Andrea Pia, ‘We Follow Reason, Not Law’: Disavowing the Law in Rural China

2013: Stacy Vandenhurst, God Rescued You: Divine Intervention & Sovereign Power in Nigeria’s Counter-Trafficking Programs

2011: Chika Watanabe, Return and Repetition in Development Work: Discipline as a Temporal Modality in a Religiously-based Japanese NGO

2012: Rachel Dotson, Citizen-Auditors and Visible Subjects: Mi Familia Progresa and Transparency Politics in Guatemala

2010: Ceren Ozgul, Legally Armenian: Secular Politics of Multicultural Tolerance and Name Change in the Mid-Level Courts of Istanbul

2009: Jessica Johnson, Masculinity, War, and Sacrifice at Home: The Transformative Cultural Politics of an Emerging Church in Seattle, Washington

2008: Karine Vanthuyne, Becoming Maya? The Politics and Pragmatics of ‘Being Indigenous’ in Post-genocide Guatemala

2007: Mark Schuller, Gluing Globalization: NGOs as Intermediaries in Haiti

2006: Tomi Castle, Sexual Citizenship: Articulating Citizenship, Identity, and the Pursuit of the Good Life in Urban Brazil, and Amy L Porter, Fleeting Dreams and Flowing Goods: Citizenship and Consumption in Havana Cuba

2005: Jessica Greenberg, Noc Reklamozdera: Democracy, Consumption, and the Contradictions of Representation in Post-Socialist Serbia

2004: Greg Beckett, Master of the Wood: Moral Authority and Political Imaginaries in Haiti

2003: Christopher Colvin, Constructing the Past, Imagining the Future: Pursuing the Political Through Traumatic Storytelling

2002: John Tofik Karam, Intensified Eth(n)ics: Arab Brazilians and Political Representation in Neoliberal Brazil

2001: Kimberley Coles, Ambivalent Builders: Europeanization, the Production of Difference, and Internationals in Bosnia-Herzegovina

1999: Ayse Parla, The ‘Honor’ of the State: Virginity Examinations in Turkey

1998: Nitasha Sharma, Down By Law: Responses and Effects of Sampling Restrictions on Rap

1997: Conerly Casey, Suffering and the Identification of Enemies in Northern Nigeria

1996: Harry G. West, Creative Destruction and Sorcery of Construction: Power, Hope and Suspicion in Post-War Mozambique

A full list of winning papers published in PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review is available on the journal’s website.