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Nominations and Applications

The Council for Museum Anthropology (CMA), a section of the American Anthropological Association, recognizes innovative and influential contributions to the field of museum anthropology.

There are four categories of awards:

  • Distinguished Service Award (2023 deadline: 1 August 2023)
  • Michael M. Ames Award (2023 deadline: 1 August 2023)
  • Student Travel Awards (2023 deadline: 1 August 2023)
  • CMA Book Award (2023 deadline: 1 August 2023)

2023 Annual Awards

CMA award applications and nominations for the Ames, Distinguished Service, and Student Travel Awards must be submitted as digital data (Word documents, pdf files and/or jpg files), sent via email to arrive on or before the deadline.
Email all members of the Awards Committee: Laura Peers, John Carty, Lijun Zhang
For 2023 Student Travel Award applications, email: 

Award winners will be notified so they have sufficient time to make travel arrangements. Winners will be formally recognized at the CMA Annual Meeting and CMA Reception during the AAA Annual Meeting, and will also be highlighted in CMA publications.

Michael M. Ames Award

The CMA Michael M. Ames Prize for Innovative Museum Anthropology is awarded to individuals for an innovative project in museum anthropology. Examples include: outstanding single or multi-authored books or published catalogues; temporary or permanent exhibits; repatriation projects; collaborations with descendant communities; educational or outreach projects; multimedia works, and other endeavours. Individuals can be nominated by any member of CMA (self-nominations are not permitted). The Ames award is usually made biennially. 

Nomination packets must include a cover letter and evidence of the work under consideration (e.g., photographs, catalogues, links to websites, etc.), and supporting materials (e.g., letters of support, media coverage, etc.). All material must be submitted as digital data (Word documents, pdf files and/or jpg files). The nomination packet should not exceed 5 pages.

Evaluation Criteria:

  1. Creativity: Is the project a unique and creative exploration of museum anthropology’s central themes, tensions, and histories?
  2. Timeliness: Does the project say something important about museum anthropology’s current predicaments and unknown future?
  3. Depth: In what ways does the project penetrate into the complexity of material culture and the study of it through novel methods and theories?
  4. Impact: Does the project have the potential to make broad and lasting impacts in museum anthropology?

Ames Award recipients will be presented with a gift from CMA and a certificate of the award.

Distinguished Service Award

The CMA’s Lifetime Achievement/Distinguished Service Award recognizes CMA members whose careers demonstrate extraordinary achievements that have advanced museum anthropology. These achievements might include: collections work, community collaborations, exhibitions, publications, public programming and outreach, teaching, policy development, etc. While many anthropologists distinguish themselves through their works, this award is meant to single out those who, over the course of their careers, have truly helped to define and or reshape the field of anthropology in and of museums. Nominees are expected to have spent at least 20 years working in the field of museum anthropology. The Distinguished Service award is usually made biennially. 

Nomination packets must include: a two-page letter of recommendation in support of the nominee; and any additional supporting materials deemed relevant by the nominator (e.g., nominee’s c.v., other supporting letters). The letter should provide a contextual summary of the nominee’s signature accomplishments, and it should demonstrate the nominee’s qualifications. The nomination packet should not exceed 5 pages.

Evaluation Criteria: 1) Impact: How has the nominee’s work transformed and or contributed to the discipline of museum anthropology (e.g., theory, methodology, influence); 2) Service: How has the nominee provided service to specific museums (e.g., collections, exhibits, public outreach); 3) Mentoring: How has the nominee influenced and inspired the careers of students and colleagues (e.g., mentorship, curriculum development, innovative teaching)?

Lifetime Award recipients will be presented with a gift from CMA and a certificate of the award.

CMA Student Travel Award

The CMA Student Travel Awards are designed to support graduate student travel to the annual AAA meeting to present papers and/or posters. Students and recent graduate degree recipients (those who have defended within the year of the award) are eligible to apply. Each year, CMA will award two prizes of $1000 each.

Application packets (maximum 5 pages) must include: a brief letter indicating the applicant’s student status and explaining how this project reflects the student’s graduate work; a copy of the abstract for the proposed paper or poster (and for the session in which they will be presenting, if known); and a letter of endorsement from an academic advisor at the student’s most recent institution of study.

Evaluation Criteria: 1) Creativity: Is the paper or poster a unique and novel contribution to museum anthropology? 2) Commitment: Does the student demonstrate a commitment to the field of museum anthropology 3) Impact: Does the paper or poster have the potential to develop into a work that could more broadly impact the field of museum anthropology?

Student Travel Award recipients will be presented with a check for $1000 and a certificate of the award.

Council for Museum Anthropology Book Award

The Council for Museum Anthropology Book Award was created to recognize and promote excellence in museum anthropology. The award is awarded to a scholar within the field of museum anthropology for a solo, co- or multi-authored book published up to five years prior to the award date, and will be considered for the award 2 years after nomination. Edited books will not be considered. The CMA Book award will be given to the author(s) whose work is judged to be a significant and influential contribution to museum anthropology. Books that did not receive the award but are considered exceptional will receive honorable mentions at the award ceremony at the AAA Annual Meeting.

Nomination Procedures

To nominate a book, please send a signed letter of nomination to the chair of the selection committee. Only individuals, not organizations or publishers, are eligible to nominate books for the CMA Book Award. The letter of nomination should speak to the impact of the book on the field of museum anthropology and needs to be by a current CMA member. Self-nomination is not permitted, and works must have an accompanying letter of nomination to be considered.

Please arrange to have the publisher send a copy of the book directly to each member of the Selection Committee. Books must be received by the deadline. Applicants will be notified in October as to the results.biEX