About the Kate Browne Award

The Kate Browne Creativity in Research Award recognizes scholars who demonstrate unusual creativity in the work of an original research project. (To learn more about Kate Browne’s research and her contributions to the SEA, click here.) The project can be focused on any topic so long as it advances the concerns of economic anthropology. Projects with social relevance and value will be given priority. The purpose of the award is to honor exciting new ways of thinking about research design/methodology, and the creative and compelling communication of research results to a public audience. The award includes a $2,000 cash prize and an invited plenary presentation at the annual SEA Spring Meeting. The nomination packet is due on January 31st each year.

Anthropologists are encouraged to self-nominate or to nominate someone else for the award. The nomination packet should include the materials described below. Eligible submissions will be based on recently completed or substantially achieved work in progress that is of urgent social value. To this end, we ask nominators and candidates to consider two paths for their nomination submission.

Path 1: Creative Research Design and Methodology.

  • Description: This is the nomination path you will want to follow to nominate yourself or someone else whose original research project presents an unusually creative approach to data generation that can help economic anthropologists see new methods for probing a complex problem or circumstance.
  • Example: O’Connell and Browne developed a methodology inspired by assemblage theory to elicit a broader array of contextual factors that influence adaptation decisions. The researchers created 50 hexagonal tiles that participants could spread out on a table. Tiles conveyed a particular type of relationship, different scales and types of governing authority, environmental factors, social factors, technology factors, etc. Participants were able to choose relevant tiles and explain the full variety of factors that influenced their choices. The method provided deeper insight into a broad spectrum of interdependencies (between humans, other species, landscapes, etc.) that shape decisions (to evacuate; whether to rebuild in place or relocate; to reimagine their lives more generally).
  • Demonstrated value: Your research methodology must already have been used in data collection and analyzed such that the value of the design/method can be asserted and evaluated. Preferably, the candidate has already published or presented research results.
  • NOTE: Projects that can demonstrate both creative research design and communication are encouraged.

Path 2: Creative Communication of Research.

  • Description: This is the nomination path you will want to follow to nominate yourself or someone else whose original research project presents an unusually creative approach to the communication of research results.
  • Example: Browne hired a professional graphic artist to work with her in developing visual supplements for her book, Standing in the Need: Culture, Comfort, and Coming Home After Katrina. The extensive set of visualizations helps communicate the material in accessible ways and has been cited as a critical part of what makes the book compelling for general readers.
  • Demonstrated value: Your creative communication work must be well underway, with at least some way to measure the value of the communication strategy.
  • NOTE: Projects that can demonstrate both creative research design and communication are encouraged.

Eligibility: Any anthropologist, irrespective of career stage, citizenship or nationality is encouraged to apply. Nominees do not need to be members of the SEA, but a strong preference is given to nominees whose work directly engages with economic anthropology.

Submission Details for Nominees: All nomination materials are due via email to award chair Dr. Cindy Isenhour (cynthia.isenhour@maine.edu) by 5pm Eastern Standard Time on January 31st. Please submit a CV, a 3-part statement including the following elements, and the required supporting documents listed below.

  • CV
  • Nomination Statement:
    (a) Overall purpose of the work you are nominating for this award and its relevance for consideration of this award (100 words).
    (b) Identification of Path 1 or Path 2 nomination and description (100 words). If you believe the nominee’s project demonstrates creativity in both paths, please feel free to outline these contributions in your description of the project. However, please choose one track for the detailed summary.
    (c) Detailed summary of work (500 words):

    1. Path 1: A 500-word summary statement of how results from your creative methodology are designed to contribute to an important problem based on the data generated and analysis that is possible. Please include any information about the demonstrated effectiveness of the method.
    2. Path 2: A 500-word summary statement of how your creative communication (visualizations, text-based innovations, etc.) is designed to contribute to the uptake of research that offers value to the broader public. Please include any information about the demonstrated effectiveness of the communication strategy.
  • Supporting Documents:
    (a) Path 1: PowerPoint slides, script of presentation or publication
    (b) Path 2: samples of the creative communication used (audio, film, visuals, etc)

Evaluation Criteria: The awards committee will be composed of five SEA members representing a variety of career stages and research interests. Each committee member will be asked to evaluate nominations with regard to the following:

  • The relevance of the research to primary themes in economic anthropology
  • The social relevance and timeliness of the research topic
  • The creativity or novelty of research method or approach to communication
  • The demonstrated effectiveness of method/communication
  • The researcher’s history of engagement with economic anthropology

Congratulations to the 2024 Kate Browne Creativity in Research Award Winner!

Claudio Sopranzetti

for his contribution to the graphic novel The King of Bangkok (with collaborators Sara Fabbri and Chiara Natalucci).

The King of Bangkok is a creative blending of ethnography and non-fiction graphic story-telling which details the life of an internal migrant in Thailand.

 The selection committee notes that Sopranzetti and his team masterfully illustrate the economic and political history of Thailand through this highly compelling story.  As Sopranzetti’s nominator observed, “while The King of Bangkok is grounded in the specific context of contemporary Thailand, it also addresses questions of economic transformation, flexibilization, and political action that are of global significance”.  Economic anthropologists, the selection committee notes, are likely to appreciate the book’s careful attention to processes of political repression and economic restructuring – and how these processes can give rise to unexpected political alliances and informal economic networks.

King of Bangkok has already made a considerable impact.   It has been translated into four different languages and reprinted several times in the few short years it has been on the shelves.  It has already received numerous accolades – perhaps most notably  it spent 18 weeks on the bestseller list in Thailand.