Society for Psychological Anthropology

The 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 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.”

David Eng

2020: PhD and Shinhee Han, PhD: Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation: On the Social and Psychic Lives of Asian Americans (2018, Duke University Press)

Stefania Pandolfo

2019: PhD, Knot of the Soul: Madness, Psychoanalysis, Islam (2018, University of Chicago Press)

Aaron Denham

2016: “A Psychodynamic Phenomenology of Nankani Interpretive Divination and the Formation of Meaning,” Ethos 43(2):109-134