Halperin Memorial Fund



Congratulations to our 2021 Halperin Award recipients!

Gehad Abaza, University of California, Santa Barbara
Project: “‘An Empty Paradise’: Household Economies, Labor, and Syrian War-time Migration in Abkhazia ”
Advisor: Elana Resnick

Abstract: As the ten-year anniversary of the Syrian Uprising-turned-civil war draws closer, it is important for scholars to research the sidelined economic consequences the war had on refugees and war-time migrants. My project focuses on the economic endeavors, household economies, and active labor of Syrians of Circassian descent in Abkhazia after 2014. I look at the intersections of the gendered divisions of labor within the domestic and informal spheres, migrant labor within government institutions, and the costs of moving to and living in a conflicted region. This project thus investigates the prospect that Syrian war-time migrants to Abkhazia are changing the economic-scape of the post-socialist country.

Jose Becerra, Purdue University
Project: “Trade-offs Between the Logistics Economy and Community Health: Disproportionate Exposure to Air Pollution Among Marginalized Communities in the Inland Empire”
Advisor: Andrew Flachs

Abstract: The Inland Empire, mostly populated by marginalized communities, is recognized as one of the most polluted regions in the United States. Freeways, railyards, airports, seasonal fires, and a growing logistics and warehouse industry, intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, are responsible for the air contamination. Interviews, participant observation, and surveys among residents will help assess risk perceptions, which ultimately effects decision making and behavior towards air pollution. Investigating the trade-offs between the logistics economy and community health will provide insight into how the uneven accumulation of capital damages marginalized communities.

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 halperin@econanthro.org by December 15, 2021. Awards will be announced by early February, 2022.

Applications will include:

  1. Proposal Cover Sheet (download here)
  2. Abstract (100 words)
  3. Project description (500 words) describing research goals, itinerary, primary research tasks, and potential outcomes. Works cited should be listed at the end and do not count towards the 500 word limit.
  4. 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., discovery and 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.
  5. Curriculum Vitae
  6. 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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