Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists


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Recognizing Excellence in Practitioner Anthropology

The Praxis Award

Since 1981, the Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists (WAPA) biennial Praxis Award competition has recognized outstanding achievement in translating anthropological knowledge into action as reflected in a single project or specific endeavor. Ideal award candidates are anthropologists who can demonstrate the value of anthropological knowledge, theory and methods to solve problems addressed through public and/or private sector efforts (e.g., government, industry, non-profit). 

Projects or endeavors may be ongoing at the time of award entry. However, no more than 3 years should have passed between the project conclusion and the award entry receipt. Exceptions will be made for extraordinary projects and efforts. However, this is not a career or lifetime achievement award; rather, it recognizes the value of applying anthropology to specific problems and projects.

Submissions should clearly demonstrate how the entrant used anthropology to effectively address contemporary human problems. The competition for this prestigious award is open to anyone holding an MA or PhD in any subfield of anthropology. WAPA strongly encourages submissions from individuals, mixed-discipline groups, or organizations wherein at least one anthropologist worked on and influenced the designated project. Entries are encouraged from anthropologists worldwide. All entries will be evaluated by an expert panel of anthropological practitioners.

It is very important to be familiar with the award guidelines. Each cycle, very promising and noteworthy submissions fall short of success because they do not adequately demonstrate how anthropology was meaningfully incorporated into the effort. Other submissions are obviously a quick re-purposing of existing documents. The submission of a completed pre-entry form serves to determine whether the pursuit of a full application packet is in your interest.

Award recipients will receive a $1000 prize, and will be recognized in a ceremony following the Business Meeting of the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology (NAPA) held during the annual American Anthropological Association (AAA) meeting.

Submission information is available under the Guidelines link in this section. The completion and submission of a 2-pp pre-entry form is strongly encouraged. Full applications must include a cover sheet and a 5 to 10-page descriptive essay. Entries will be strengthened by supporting letters and public testimonials from project clients and beneficiaries (not colleagues), as well as by any relevant media releases.

To better understand the types of achievements that merit the award, see the Praxis Award Recipients document, which lists all prior award recipients and provides links to the abstracts of their competition entries.

Award recipients may be asked to give a presentation for WAPA and/or contribute a chapter to a future edition of "Anthropological Practice: Translating Knowledge into Action" (Robert M. Wulff and Shirley J. Fiske, Eds.).

WAPA established the Praxis Award for Excellence in the Practice of Anthropology to recognize the significant, often groundbreaking work performed in government and industry by the discipline’s practitioners in translating anthropological knowledge into action to address their clients’ problems. The award competition, open to all M.A. and Ph.D. level anthropologists, commenced in 1981, was repeated in 1982, and since then has continued on a biennial, odd-numbered year basis. The year 2011 marked the 30th anniversary and the 17th competition of the Praxis Award.  The list of Praxis Award recipients (PDF format) was originally researched and compiled by Amy Carattini and Charles Cheney in 2011. It has been updated biennially since then.

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