SMA Dissertation Award

Deadline: July 1, 2023

Awarded on Odd Years

In 2006, the Society for Medical Anthropology inaugurated the Medical Anthropology Students Association (MASA) to recognize and serve student members of the society. Students make up one-third of SMA’s membership and represent the future of the field. One way for SMA to honor its student members is through inauguration of an award recognizing the excellence of a recently completed doctoral dissertation. To that end, the SMA Board has established the SMA Dissertation Award (formerly called the “MASA Dissertation Award”), created to recognize an outstanding dissertation in the field of medical anthropology, broadly defined.

On a biennial basis (every odd year) the SMA Dissertation Award is given to the author of a dissertation which is judged to be a significant and potentially influential contribution to medical anthropology. Dissertations are judged on the basis of: (1) scope and excellence of scholarship, including ethnographic research; (2) originality of subject matter; (3) effectiveness and persuasiveness of arguments; and (4) writing quality. Dissertation research of exceptional courage and difficulty is given special consideration.

The SMA Dissertation Award will be publicly announced during the SMA awards ceremony, held during the annual AAA meeting. The winner will receive a $500 cash award.

The SMA Dissertation Award Committee strongly encourages submission of nominations for the competition. Submissions must be dissertations approved, accepted, and filed as the final version with the candidate’s university within nomination deadline period. For the next nomination period, dissertations submitted to the university between the period of April 15, 2021 – June 30, 2023 will be considered. (Due to changes in the way that the AAA annual meeting is organized, the SMA decided to modify the due dates for awards.)

Submissions: In order to be a candidate for the SMA Dissertation award, students need not have received their PhD degrees in a department of anthropology, nor in a North American university. Students should submit a PDF of their final, defended and accepted dissertation, accompanied by two letters of nomination: one from the student’s advisor and the other from a dissertation committee member (or comparable faculty member familiar with the work). These letters must state why the dissertation contributes to the field of medical anthropology. The candidate’s dissertation advisor should attest that the submitted dissertation is the version accepted by the dissertation committee. All materials should be sent to SMA Dissertation Award Committee Chair Chelsey R. Carter (, along with a list of the student’s dissertation committee members to avoid conflicts of interest during the reviewing process.

Applications open.