Boyer Prize for Contributions to Psychoanalytic Anthropology

The Boyer Prize for Contributions to Psychoanalytic Anthropology is awarded annually to a book or article published in the preceding three years (2018-2020) that addresses the psychodynamic process in a cultural context. By “psychodynamic process” we mean the implicit and often unconscious assumptions that shape emotions, relationships, dreams, and other aspects of subjective experience. By “cultural context” we mean the social world in which individuals are embedded and which is the usual focus of anthropological work. The Boyer prize seeks to encourage and to reward work that takes a psychodynamic approach to a cultural phenomenon, an anthropological perspective on the psychodynamically oriented clinical context, or in some way integrates the theoretical or clinical insights of psychoanalysis with the traditional methods or subject matter of anthropology. Winners of the Boyer Prize are members of future selection committees on a three year rotation.

The Boyer Prize is named for Dr. L. Bryce Boyer (1916-2000), a psychoanalyst who advanced the concept of countertransference and who, with his anthropologist wife, Ruth Boyer, conducted long-term research with the Mescalero Apache. The Boyer Prize is endowed and comes with a $500 award. Nominations are made by the selection committee, and also may be made by the author or other party. If not self-nominated, nominators must be active members of the American Anthropological Association. All nominations must be accompanied by a cover letter discussing the significance of the work’s contribution to psychodynamic anthropology. If the nominated work is an article, the nominator must provide a PDF of the work to the chair of the selection committee. If the nominated work is a book, the nominator needs to arrange for copies to be sent to each member of the committee. There is a preference for the award to be given to those who are members of the SPA, although this is not a requirement of the award.

All nomination materials (article PDF, cover letters) should be emailed to the chair of the committee, Dr. Stefania Pandolfo. In the subject line of the email, please write “SPA Boyer Prize Submission.” Books need to be sent individually to all committee members. Please email Elizabeth Carpenter-Song ( for mailing addresses for submission of hard copy books. The email subject line must read: “SPA Boyer Prize Address.”

All materials must be received no later than September 1, 2021.

Prize Committee:
Stefania Pandolfo (Chair)

Michael D’Arcy

The third committee member will be announced soon.

Please direct any questions to Elizabeth Carpenter-Song:

All award and selection committees abide by the SPA’s Conflict of Interest Statement and Recusal Policy

 Past Boyer Prize Winners
2020David Eng, PhD and Shinhee Han, PhD: Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation: On the Social and Psychic Lives of Asian Americans (2018, Duke University Press)
2019Stefania Pandolfo, PhD, Knot of the Soul: Madness, Psychoanalysis, Islam (2018, University of Chicago Press)
2018Kevin P. Groark, "Specters of Social Antagonism: The Cultural Psychodynamics of Dream Aggression among the Tzotzil Maya of San Juan Chamula (Chiapas, Mexico)"
2017Christiana Giordano, Migrants in Translation (2014, University of California)
2016Aaron Denham, "A Psychodynamic Phenomenology of Nankani Interpretive Divination and the Formation of Meaning," Ethos 43(2):109-134
2015P. Steven Sangren, "The Chinese Family as Instituted Family: Or, Rescuing Kinship Imaginaries from the 'Symbolic,'" Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19: 279-299, 2013.
2014Tine Gammeltoft, "Toward an Anthropology of the Imaginary: Specters of Disability in Vietnam," Ethos 42(4): 153-174, 2014.
2013John Borneman, "Daydreaming, Intimacy, and the Intersubjective Third in Fieldwork Encounters in Syria," American Ethnologist, 38(2): 234-248, 2011.
2012Douglas Hollan, "On the Varieties and Particularities of Cultural Experience," Ethos, 40(1): 37-53, 2012.
2011Kevin P. Groark. "Discourses of the Soul: The Negotiation of Personal Agency in Tzotzil Maya dream narrative," American Ethnologist 36(4): 705-721, 2009.
2010Steven Parish. Subjectivity and Suffering in American Culture: Possible Selves, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.
2009Bambi Chapin, "Transforming Possession: Josephine and the Work of Culture," Ethos 36(2):220-245, 2008.
Naomi Quinn, "Universals of Child Rearing," Anthropological Theory 6(4): 387-405, 2005
2008Rebecca Lester. Jesus in Our Wombs: Embodying Modernity in a Mexican Convent, University of California Press, 2005.
2007Vincent Crapanzano. "The Scene: Shadowing the Real," Anthropological Theory 6(4): 387-405, 2006.
2006no prize awarded
2005no prize awarded
2004Patricia Gherovici, The Puerto Rican Syndrome, Other Press, 2003
2003Brian Keith Axel, "The Diasporic Imaginary," Public Culture 14(2): 411-428, 2002
2002Drew Westen, "Beyond the Binary Opposition in Psychological Anthropology: Integrating Contemporary Psychoanalysis and Cognitive Science," in Carmella C. Moore and Holly F. Mathews, eds., The Psychology of Cultural Experience, pp. 21-47, Cambridge, 2001
2001T. M. Luhrmann, Of Two Minds: The Growing Disorder in American Psychiatry, Knopf, 2000
2000Nancy Chodorow, The Power of Feelings: Personal Meaning in Psychoanalysis, Gender, and Culture, Yale, 1999
1999Jean Briggs, Inuit Morality Play: The Emotional Education of a Three-Year-Old, Yale, 1998
1998Melford Spiro, Gender Ideology and Psychological Reality, Yale, 1997
1997 Allan Johnson and Douglas Price-Williams, Oedipus Ubiquitous, Stanford, 1996
Robert A. Paul, Moses and Civilization, Yale, 1996
1996Vamik D. Volkan, "Totem and Taboo in Romania: A Psychopolitical Diagnosis." Journal of Mind and Human Interaction, 6(2), 1995. (Journal of the Center for the Study of Mind and Human Interaction)
1995Suzette Heald, "Every Man a Hero: Oedipal Themes in Gisu Circumcision." In S. Heald and A. Deluz, eds., Anthropology and Psychoanalysis: An Encounter Through Culture, pp. 184-209, Routledge, 1994
1994Anne Allison, Nightwork, Sexuality, Pleasure, and Corporate Masculinity in a Tokyo Hostess Club. Chicago, 1994
1993no prize awarded
1992Suzanne R. Kirshner, "Anglo-American Values in Post-Freudian Psychoanalysis." In David Spain, ed., Psychoanalytic Anthropology Fifty Years After Freud: Essays Marking the Fiftieth Anniversary of Freud's Death, pp. 162-197, Psyche Press, 1992
1991Dan Forsyth, "Sibling Rivalry, Aesthetic Sensibility, and Social Structure in Genesis." Ethos 19(4):453-510, 1991
1990Katherine T. Ewing, "The Illusion of Wholeness: 'Culture,' 'Self,' and the Experience of Inconsistency." Ethos 18(3):251-278 1990
1989no prize awarded
1988Waud Kracke, "Kagwahiv Mourning II: Ghosts, Grief, and Reminiscences." Ethos 16(2):209-222 1988
1987 Sudhir Kakar, "Psychotherapy and Culture: Healing in the Indian Tradition," in Merry I. White and Susan Pollack, eds., The Cultural Transition: Human Experience and Social Transformation in the Third World and Japan, pp. 9-23, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1986
1986Yoram Bilu, "The Taming of the Deviants and Beyond: an Analysis of Dybbuk Possession and Exorcism in Judaism" Psychoanalytic Study of Society 11:1-32, 1985


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.