Kate Browne Creativity in Research Award

Congratulations to the 2022 Kate Browne Creativity in Research Award Winner!

Colin West: Methodological innovations in participatory mapping with high-resolution satellite imagery

West’s ingenious participatory methodology —which involves local communities in the identification of environmental changes by interacting and modifying high resolution satellite imagery —speaks directly to the needs of climate science and adaptation practice. It provides both a method to gather bottom-up understandings of environmental change as well as a scientific template for integrating local understandings of critical variability with satellite imagery. The work demonstrates the power of methodological creativity to produce highly valuable implications as societies around the world adapt their economies and livelihoods to live in a changing climate. As one reviewer noted, “West’s close engagement with local communities to produce the research rings true to the spirit of Prof Browne’s work.”

2022 Finalists


The Kate Browne Creativity in Research Award recognizes scholars who demonstrate unusual creativity in the work of an original research project. (To learn more about Kate Browne’s research and her contributions to the SEA, click here.) The project can be focused on any topic so long as it advances the concerns of economic anthropology. Projects with social relevance and value will be given priority. The purpose of the award is to honor exciting new ways of thinking about research design/methodology, or the creative and compelling communication of research results to a public audience. The award includes a $2,000 cash prize and an invited plenary presentation at the 2022 SEA Spring Meeting or the 2022 AAA Meeting. The nomination packet due date for the 2023 award will be announced later this year.

Anthropologists are encouraged to self-nominate or to nominate someone else for the award. The nomination packet should include the materials described below. Eligible submissions will be based on work in progress that can be demonstrated and that is of urgent social value. To this end, we ask nominators and candidates to consider one of two paths for their nomination submission.

Path 1: Creative Research Design and Methodology.

  • Description: This is the nomination path you will want to follow to nominate yourself or someone else whose original research project presents an unusually creative approach to data generation that can help economic anthropologists see new methods for probing a complex problem or circumstance.
  • Example: O’Connell and Browne developed a methodology inspired by assemblage theory to elicit a broader array of contextual factors that influence adaptation decisions. The researchers created 50 hexagonal tiles that participants could spread out on a table. Tiles conveyed a particular type of relationship, different scales and types of governing authority, environmental factors, social factors, technology factors, etc. Participants were able to choose relevant tiles and explain the full variety of factors that influenced their choices. The method provided deeper insight into a broad spectrum of interdependencies (between humans, other species, landscapes, etc.) that shape decisions (to evacuate; whether to rebuild in place or relocate; to reimagine their lives more generally).
  • Work in progress. Your research methodology must already have been used in data collection and analyzed such that the value of the design/method can be asserted and evaluated. Preferably, the candidate has published or given a presentation using this methodology at a professional meeting.

Path 2: Creative Communication of Research.

  • Description. This is the nomination path you will want to follow to nominate yourself or someone else whose original research project presents an unusually creative approach to the communication of research results.
  • Example: Browne hired a professional graphic artist to work with her in developing visual supplements for her book, Standing in the Need: Culture, Comfort, and Coming Home After Katrina. The extensive set of visualizations helps communicate the material in accessible ways and has been cited as a critical part of what makes the book compelling for general readers.
  • Work in Progress. Your creative communication work must be well underway with a projected completion date.

Eligibility: Any anthropologist, irrespective of career stage, citizenship or nationality is encouraged to apply. Nominees do not need to be members of the SEA but a strong preference is given to nominees whose work directly engages with economic anthropology.

Submission Details for Nominees: All nomination materials are due via email to award chair Dr. Cindy Isenhour (Cynthia.isenhour@maine.edu) by 5pm Eastern Standard Time on January 30, 2022. Please submit a CV, a 3-part statement including the following elements, and the required supplementary materials listed below.

  • CV
  • Nomination Statement:
    (a) Overall purpose of the work you are nominating for this award and its relevance for consideration of this award (100 words).
    (b) Identification of Path 1 or Path 2 nomination and description (100 words).
    (c) Detailed summary of work (500 words):

    1. Path 1: A 500-word summary statement of how results from your creative methodology are designed to contribute to an important problem based on the data generated and analysis that is possible. Please include any information about the demonstrated effectiveness of the method.
    2. Path 2: A 500-word summary statement of how your creative communication (visualizations, text-based innovations, etc.) is designed to contribute to the uptake of research that offers value to the broader public. Please include any information about the demonstrated effectiveness of the communication strategy.
  • Supporting Documents:
    (a) Path 1: powerpoint slides, script of presentation or publication
    (b) Path 2: samples of the creative communication used (audio, film, visuals, etc)

Evaluation Criteria: The awards committee will be composed of five SEA members representing a variety of career stages and research interests. Each committee member will be asked to evaluate nominations with regard to

  • The relevance of the research to primary themes in economic anthropology
  • The social relevance and timeliness of the research topic
  • The creativity or novelty of research method or dissemination
  • The demonstrated effectiveness of method/communication
  • The researcher’s history of engagement with economic anthropology
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