Halperin Memorial Fund



Congratulations to our 2020 Halperin Award recipients!

Esra Padgett, City University of New York
Project: “Technologies of Transaction: Possibilities and Limitations of Cryptocurrency in the US Adult Industry”
Advisor: Angela Reyes

Abstract: This project focuses on the emergence of cryptocurrency within the adult industry, examining the role and potential impact of cryptocurrency as an economic alternative for a specific socially marginalized and economically disenfranchised group: sex workers in the United States. The aim of the project is to conduct preliminary ethnographic research with an adult cryptocurrency company, with particular attention to the economic possibilities cryptocurrency creates for participants in the sex industry that have been historically excluded from mainstream financial institutions, while maintaining a mindful focus on the limitations of this transactional technology as a means of resistance.

Rachael Stephens, University of Pennsylvania
Project: “Valuating real estate equity and valuing social equality: property valuation and school finance inequality in Greater Hartford, Connecticut”
Advisor: Kathleen D. Hall

Abstract: Municipalities increasingly rely on municipal property taxes to generate educational funds. Critics note this leaves poor, minoritized districts struggling to fund their schools; yet, some suggest such liberal multiculturalism conceals a disavowal of civic responsibility (Povinelli 2011) and there is little inquiry into how citizens shape the inequitable distribution of property value that mediates decentralized school finance. Based on participant observation and informal interviewing with realtors, home-buyers, and community activists in Greater Hartford, Connecticut, I ask: How do citizens shape the distribution of property value? How does this shape the attribution of civic responsibility for school finance inequalities?

See past award recipients here.


The Rhoda Halperin Memorial Fund celebrates the life and work of Rhoda Halperin by supporting PhD students in anthropology who emulate her love of economic anthropology and concern for people on the social margin. In memory of Rhoda’s convivial collegiality, the Fund also encourages student professional development through participation in the scholarly meetings of the SEA and AAA. To meet these goals, students engaged in economic research focused on social exclusion and poverty are provided small grants for preliminary dissertation fieldwork and subsequent travel money to present their findings at the Society for Economic Anthropology annual conference.

Because Rhoda Halperin’s career exemplified the integration of anthropological theory with social activism, for the purposes of this award, economic anthropology is broadly defined to include applied and non-applied perspectives, research that engages with issues of poverty, exclusion from the political process, and access to education. See past awards here.


  1. Any student enrolled in an anthropology (or allied field) doctoral program, regardless of citizenship or nation, is eligible for the award.
  2. Strong preference is given to students early in the dissertation process rather than to those who are further along and have already developed their proposals.
  3. The funds are not intended for language study.
  4. The funds are not intended for dissertation research. For those seeking funds to support dissertation research, please apply to the SEA’s M. Estellie Smith Memorial Fund Dissertation Award.


Applicants who meet the eligibility requirements may apply for the award by providing the following materials by the deadline listed below. All materials should be submitted via email to Laura Tilghman (halperinaward@gmail.com) by December 20, 2019. Awards will be announced by February 1, 2020.

  1. Proposal Cover Sheet
  2. Abstract (100 words)
  3. Project description, < 500 words about research goals, itinerary, primary research tasks, potential outcomes
  4. Curriculum Vitae
  5. Letter of recommendation (included or under separate cover)


Recipients receive $1,500 for preliminary PhD research, issued upon acceptance of the award and notification to the Treasurer of the SEA.

Recipients receive a one-year membership in the Society for Economic Anthropology (for those already members of the American Anthropological Association).

Recipients receive $500 to supplement the costs of traveling to the SEA spring conference during the year following the research award to present a poster or paper on the dissertation research or background work.


The Halperin Memorial Fund is a fund of the Society for Economic Anthropology, a Section of the American Anthropological Association, which is a 501(c)3 organization. Donations to The Halperin Memorial Fund are typically exempt from federal income tax, as are membership fees, but please consult your tax advisor regarding your specific situation. Donations can be made online or by check. When you make a donation to support the Halperin Memorial Fund by check, please make your check to “SEA/American Anthropological Association” and note that the donation is for the Halperin Memorial Fund.

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