Overview of the Praxis Award Competition

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, or non-profit). The competition is open to anyone holding an MA or PhD in any sub-field of anthropology. In exceptional cases, applicants with a BA in anthropology may be considered (for example, in countries where the anthropology BA is considered to be a final degree).

Award recipients will receive a $1000 prize and will be recognized at a Praxis Award ceremony and reception at the 2024 meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Submission information is available on the Praxis Awards Guidelines page.

Key Dates:

    • Optional pre-application deadline: June 30, 2023
    • Full application deadline: September 1, 2023
    • Awardees and other applicants notified: January 2024
    • Praxis award(s) presented: March 2024

Projects or endeavors may be ongoing at the time of submitting the application. However, no more than 7 years should have passed between the project conclusion and the award entry receipt. Exceptions will be made for extraordinary projects and efforts. 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. WAPA strongly encourages submissions from individuals, mixed-discipline groups, or organizations where 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, promising and noteworthy submissions fall short of success because they do not adequately demonstrate how anthropology was meaningfully incorporated into the effort. A quick re-purposing of existing documents is unlikely to be effective. Submission of the optional pre-application form serves to determine whether completing the full application is in your interest.

Submission of a 2-page 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, with brief descriptions of their competition entries.

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 has been made possible through the generosity of Dr. Bob Wulff.

The award competition, open to all M.A. and Ph.D. level anthropologists, was first awarded in 1981 and again in 1982, and since then has been awarded 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 was originally researched and compiled by Amy Carattini and Charles Cheney in 2011. It is updated biennially as new recipients are announced.

Updated 28 January 2023

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