New Dissertation Research Award for Economic Anthropologists

M. Estellie Smith Award

Anthropology lost a bright star in 2005, with the death of M. Estellie Smith. The Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA) will celebrate Smith’s intellectual contributions and commitment to learning with the new M. Estellie Smith Fund, thanks to the generosity of her husband and fellow anthropologist, Charles Bishop. The M. Estellie Smith Fund will finance a competitive dissertation fieldwork grant of $2,500, to be awarded annually to a PhD candidate pursuing economic anthropology research that promises to make significant theoretical or applied contributions to solve current world issues. This award includes $2,000 to contribute to research expenses, and $500 to facilitate travel to the SEA Spring Meetings to present research results. The first M. Estellie Smith Award will be awarded in 2018; proposal instructions and the deadline will be announced on the SEA webpage within the next few months.

M. Estellie Smith. Charles Bishop

Estellie Smith was a past president of SEA, and a regular participant at the SEA meetings. Society members remember Smith fondly as a productive scholar, an active and engaged participant, and a dedicated mentor to students and junior faculty. Among Smith’s trademarks were her insistence that her first name be pronounced correctly (emphasis on the first syllable, almost rhyming with Nestlé) and her frequently-used cigarette holder. Her obituary in the Albany Times Union (October 30, 2005) states that “speed, efficiency, independence, and frugality were key concepts that guided the way she approached life.” SEA members remember Smith as a mentor and recount stories of her providing them with undivided attention and useful, critical, feedback during important moments in their early careers.

Smith followed her intellectual curiosity through different subjects that she saw as unified with the four-field anthropology that she championed: she published in three of American anthropology’s four subfields. She began her research trajectory at Taos Pueblo in the 1960s, under the supervision of linguist George L. Trager. Her own Portuguese heritage led to a research agenda focused on the role of women in Portuguese immigrant communities in New England, resulting in key contributions in feminist anthropology and migration studies (e.g., 1980). Many Portuguese New Englanders are fishermen, leading Smith to contribute to maritime anthropology (e.g., 1977a). She also published key works on social evolution and change (e.g., 1982). While social and economic themes ran through much of her work, economic anthropology became her major focus in the latter part of her career (e.g., 2000). She edited or wrote eight books, including Governing at Taos Peublo (1969), Those Who Live by the Sea (1977), and Trade and Trade-offs: Using Resources, Making Choices, and Taking Risks (2000). Smith published over 70 articles, on topics as diverse as ethnomedicine among Sicilian immigrants in Buffalo (1972), to the social and technical differences between ocean-going vessels and their Great Lakes counterparts (1977b). In 1987 she became a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The M. Estellie Smith Fund will finance a competitive dissertation fieldwork grant of $2,500, to be awarded annually to a PhD candidate pursuing economic anthropology research that promises to make significant theoretical or applied contributions to solve current world issues.
The Society for Economic Anthropology is honored by, and grateful for, Charles Bishop’s generous gift establishing the M. Estellie Smith Award. This fund will make significant contributions to training future generations of economic anthropologists, who, through their research and teaching efforts, will make the world a better place.

SEA offers a total of four awards. The M. Estellie Smith Award specifically funds dissertation fieldwork. The Haplerin Award, in honor of Rhoda Halperin, specifically funds pre-dissertation research. The Schneider Student Paper prize, named after Harold Schneider, acknowledges outstanding undergraduate and graduate writing. These three awards are offered annually. The SEA Book Prize is awarded every three years to an outstanding economic anthropology monograph. Scholars interested in applying for these awards should seek further information at the SEA website.

Bram Tucker is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Georgia and president for the Society for Economic Anthropology.

Please send your comments, contributions, news and announcements to SEA contributing editor Yuson Jung ([email protected]).

Cite as: Tucker, Bram. 2018. “New Dissertation Research Award for Economic Anthropologists.” Anthropology News website, February 13, 2018. DOI: 10.1111/AN.758

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