James Howe Prize


MIT Anthropology announces the 2021 James Howe Prize


Deadline: Sunday April 25th 11:59pm, 2021 (announcement updated April 14)


We seek submissions from current MIT undergraduate students on any topic submitted for coursework in MIT Anthropology. Submissions will be evaluated on their originality, scholarly content, and the effectiveness of their writing or presentation. A faculty committee will judge entries. Students should submit work to jhprize@mit.edu.

This year, up to two winners will each receive a $300 award: one for a written paper, and one for work in some other medium. Winners will be announced on or before May 5, 2021, and will be featured on the MIT Anthropology website.

About the James Howe Prize:

The annual James Howe Prize honors the contributions of Professor of Anthropology James Howe, who retired in 2012. Howe’s scholarship has focused on the history and political struggles of the indigenous Kuna population in Panama. He has also promoted human rights throughout his distinguished career. A renowned photographer and political activist, Howe has undertaken ethnographic work to support the rights of the Kuna people. He is also a longstanding board member of Cultural Survival—an organization that provides support to and advocates on behalf of the linguistic, cultural, and property rights of indigenous populations around the world.


Guidelines for Submission:

Students may submit multiple entries. The topic is open.

Since remote teaching started in Spring 2020, some instructors have substituted other media projects for term papers. To reflect the diversity of formats in which students have explored Anthropology topics, this year we are accepting Howe Prize submissions in the form of podcasts, short videos, websites, photo stories, and other media, in addition to papers.

Eligible papers must have been written for MIT Anthropology classes or as part of an undergraduate anthropology thesis (i.e., a thesis chapter). They may be revisions of essays written and graded for MIT Anthropology subjects. They should be at least 10 double-spaced pages in length but must not exceed 25 pages.

Other media works should be of comparable size and scope. If in doubt, go ahead and submit!

Works that have been previously published are not eligible.

Submissions must include a title, as well as a consistent and thorough citation style and bibliography. The student’s name should not appear anywhere on the paper or in the media file.


Each entry should be submitted with a cover sheet that includes:

  • Student name:
  • Submission title:
  • Anthropology subject for which the submission was produced:
  • Major:
  • Expected year of graduation:
  • Email address:
  • Phone number:
  • Student ID number:

Please submit entries and cover sheets to: jhprize@mit.edu.

Please address questions to jhprize@mit.edu.


2021 James Howe Prize winners:

MIT Anthropology is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 James Howe Prize!
This year, for the first time, the committee judged submissions in two categories: conventional papers and multi-modal projects. Two papers and one project received the award.

MIT Anthropology is pleased to announce The first of the two “paper” category winners is Luísa Apolaya Torres. She wrote "Music, Technology, and Intergenerational Sharing", which includes a playlist, for 21A.504 Cultures of Computing.

The other winner in the “paper” category is Lia Hsu-Rodriguez, for "Convenience, Culture and COPE: Food Justice and Sovereignty on Navajo Nation" for 21A.155 Food, Culture and Politics.

MIT Anthropology is also pleased to announce the first winner in the new “multi-modal project” category is Varsha Sridhar, for "A Photographic Exploration of Belonging Through New Orleans Street Art" a photographic essay created for 21A.157 The Meaning of Life.

Congratulations to all three awardees!



2020: Elena Andree and Marissa McPhillips
2019: Maryam Pervaiz and Leanne Wang
2018: Jackie Liu and Gabriella Zak
2017: Ankita Reddy and Haley Strouf
2016: Paige Omura
2015: Andrei Kilshin and Peter Haine
2014: Sofia Essayan-Perez
2013: Iris Sheu