Halperin Memorial Fund

Congratulations to our 2022 Halperin Award recipients!


Dean Blumenfeld: Arizona State University
Project: “Debt, Labor, and Specialization at the Colonial Latifundia: The Archaeological Investigation of Hacienda del Rincon, Mexico”
Advisor: Christopher Morehart

Abstract: The hacienda of colonial Mexico represents the emergence of commercial enterprise through privately-owned landed estates. These estates fundamentally reorganized local communities, often through coercive systems of debt. Through both archival and archaeological investigation, this project examines how the configuration of labor was effectively reshaped by the hacienda. To achieve this, I focus my investigation on Hacienda del Rincón de Guadalupe, a late colonial hacienda located in the contemporary municipality of Apaxco, Mexico. Doing so will provide insight into the dynamic relationship between property and socio-economic life and will fundamentally address issues related to the development of capital in colonial Mexico.

Bruno Ubiali: University of Georgia
Project: “What is Productive Land? Indigenous and Farmers’ Cultural Notions of Land in an Agricultural Frontier Expansion”
Advisor: Don Nelson

Abstract: The ongoing expansion of government-sponsored logging and cattle ranching in the Brazilian Amazon collides with Indigenous communities that pursue forest-based livelihoods. This predissertation research aims at understanding Indigenous and large-scale farmers’ cultural notions of land, which will
contribute to revealing the cultural and social values of forest-based livelihoods and industrial agriculture in the Amazon and elsewhere. I will undertake this predissertation research in Santarém, Brazil, where Indigenous livelihoods and corporate interests currently are – and have historically been – in stark contrast. I will meet academic partners, establish relationships with communities, and collect data that will inform my dissertation research design.

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 January 20, 2023. Awards will be announced by late March, 2023.

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. Optional: Note any restrictions on travel to your field site still in place and whether you will be able to meet those requirements.
  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.

American Anthropological Association
attn: Accounting
2300 Clarendon Blvd, Suite 1301
Arlington, VA 22201-3386


Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial