Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing

Author: Richman, Karen

Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing
Society for Humanistic Anthropology
AAA Meetings, Minneapolis, MN
November 19, 2016

Karen Richman, Committee Chair’s Remarks

On behalf of the Victor Turner Prize for Ethnographic Writing committee, it is has been an enormous pleasure to read this embarrassment of riches. The committee, including Lucas Bessire and Mustafa Mirzeler, received 62 ethnographies of the highest quality.  Having to reduce the winners to three and two honorable mentions was a challenge.  We made our selections for the prizes based on the following criteria: originality, innovative methods, experience-near approach, quality of writing, presentation and engagement with humanistic anthropology and to anthropological literature and theory 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. 

For my part, chairing this committee has been special honor as I was a student of Victor Turner and of Edie Turner, who crossed over to the other side exactly five months and two days ago. I thought of their reactions often as I read and evaluated the submissions.  I believe that Vic and Edie’s spirits are smiling on the authors’ achievements and this ritual conferring their awards. 

The format of the ceremony is I will read praise for the winners, written by myself and Lucas Bessire, and then I will invite each winner, or their substitute, to read a favorite selection from their book and accept their award and certificate from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology. A special thank you to Emma Nalin, who assited me over the summer with the work and to ILS for supporting her work.

1. Anna Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World,Princeton, 2015
2. Cristina Giordano, Migrants in Translation: Caring and the Logics of Difference in Contemporary Italy, University of California Press, 2014
3. Aimee Meredith Cox, Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship, Duke, 2015.

Honorable mention
Gordillo, Gastón R.: Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction, Duke, 2014, and
Malkki, Liisa H., The Need to Help: The Domestic Arts of International Humanitarianism, Duke, 2015.