M. Estellie Smith Memorial Fund

Congratulations to our 2021 M. Estellie Smith Memorial Fund award co-recipients!

Gabriela Montero Mejía, University of Kentucky
Project: Of maize and sugar: Colonial food systems and indigenous quality of life in the southern Gulf Coast of Mexico
Advisor: Christopher Pool


Seyma Kabaoglu, Northwestern University
Project: Banking on Doubt: Law and Ambiguity in the Everyday Life of Islamic Participation Finance in Istanbul, Turkey
Advisor: Robert Launay

View past winners here




Curious about M. Estellie Smith’s scholarship? Click here for a list of some of her publications.

The M. Estellie Smith Memorial Fund honors Dr. Smith’s vibrant personality and her dedication to scholarship, mentorship, and the application of social science knowledge to real world issues. During her long career as an anthropologist, Estellie followed her intellectual curiosity through diverse subjects including Pueblo Indians, European societies, societal evolution, maritime anthropology, linguistics, and Portuguese communities. A past president of SEA, Estellie is fondly remembered for her generous attention to students, to whom she provided critical and helpful advice.

To celebrate Estellie’s spirit of mentorship and concern for pressing world issues, the M. Estellie Smith Memorial Fund provides graduate student awardees small grants specifically to supplement dissertation fieldwork expenses (typically, $2000) and subsequent travel money to present their findings at the Society for Economic Anthropology annual conference (typically, $500).

Applicants must demonstrate how their research will address the field of economic anthropology as well as significant and pressing world issues, offering potential theoretical or applied advances that could make the world a better place particularly for vulnerable peoples.


  1. Any student enrolled in an anthropology (or allied field) doctoral program, regardless of citizenship or nation, is eligible for the award.
  2. Funds must be spent on travel, field, or lab expenses directly related to the student’s dissertation, as approved by their academic advisor and committee, and all applicants must be ABD by the time the research would be conducted. Status and eligibility should be reflected in letters of recommendation.
  3. The funds are not intended for predissertation fieldwork or language study.


Applicants who meet the eligibility requirements may apply for the award by providing the following materials prior to the deadline listed below. All materials should be submitted via email to smithaward@econanthro.org by December 15, 2021. Awards are will be announced in early February 2022.

  1. Proposal Cover Sheet
  2. Abstract (100 words)
  3. Project description, 500 words or less about research goals, itinerary, primary research tasks, potential outcomes
  4. 300 word discussion of how the research will address significant and pressing world issues, offering potential theoretical or applied advances in economic anthropology that could make the world a better place particularly for vulnerable peoples.
  5. Plan for research during COVID-19 Pandemic. Explain how you plan to complete the proposed research despite the COVID-19 Pandemic. In a sentence or two, specifically address: (a) Is your institution permitting the kinds of travel this research requires? (b) is your institution’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) currently permitting research with human subjects? (c) how will you protect yourself, other fieldworkers, and interviewees/participants from infection? (d) Is your research plan contingent on changes to the global public health situation (ex., distribution of vaccines) and your institution’s policies? Please note that awardees may be able to defer their award by up to a year if necessary. In reviewing proposals, we will look for responses that show the applicant has thought carefully about the current context, but will not give preference to particular types of research plans.
  6. Curriculum Vitae
  7. Letter of recommendation (included or under separate cover)
  8. Budget description, including detailed description of what this $2000 award will pay for; other sources of funding that the student has applied for, plans to apply for, or has received; and how remaining expenses will be covered.
  9. Before funds will be disbursed, the applicant must provide official documentation from their department of A.B.D. status (candidacy).
  10. All materials excluding letters of recommendation should be submitted as a single PDF document.


  • Recipients receive $2,000 for 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.