CESS Annual Conference Best Graduate Student Paper Award

2017 Best Graduate Student Paper Award winner Taylor Zajicek receiving his award from Professor Scott Levi, member of the Awards Committee

CESS is delighted to announce that the winner of the 2017 CESS Annual Conference Best Graduate Student Paper Award is Taylor Zajicek of Princeton University for his paper The Seismic Colony: Earthquakes, Science, and Empire in Russian Turkestan.

In 2017 the Graduate Student Paper Award Committee received a number of papers on very different topics. The selection was difficult given the large array of topics and methodologies involved. We decided to give the award to Taylor Zajicek, Princeton University History Department, for his paper “The Seismic Colony:  Earthquakes, Science, and Empire in Russian Turkestan.” The paper ties together science and empire, and analyses the way imperialist/and orientalist thinking shaped responses to empire within the state and popular culture. It is a great contribution to the environmental history of Turkestan. 

Also on this page:
Call for submissions for the 2017 CESS Annual Conference Best Graduate Student Paper Award (for reference only)
Past Recipients of the CESS Annual Conference Best Graduate Student Paper Award

Call for submissions for the 2017 CESS Annual Conference Best Graduate Student Paper Award


The deadline for submissions was September 1, 2017. This information is retained for reference only.

To promote new scholarship focusing on the history, politics, culture and societies of Central Eurasia, the Central Eurasian Studies Society has established the CESS Annual Conference Best Graduate Student Paper Award.  

This award gives special recognition to a paper written by a current graduate student and presented at the CESS Annual Conference. The winner of the prize will receive $500 on attendance of the CESS Annual Conference, will be honored at the conference, and will be offered the opportunity to publish the paper in Central Asian Survey.

The award is granted only to a conference presenter, and will only be given if papers are of sufficient quality to merit the award. Any graduate student enrolled in a higher university degree program is eligible. The applicant must have been registered as a student in the semester/term preceding the conference (i.e. the semester/term ending by September 2017).  

The paper should be consistent with the framework of those presented at the CESS Annual Conference, addressing any topic in the humanities or social science study of Central Eurasia. The papers will be evaluated by a three-member jury representing a range of disciplinary approaches. The evaluation criteria include originality, appropriate use of sources, and quality of writing. The paper may be drawn from thesis work or intended for eventual publication, and should conform to standard academic guidelines in terms of style and presentation.

Papers must be submitted via the CESS website using an online form - see link below. We recommend that papers be submitted at least a day before the deadline to ensure that there is time to address any technical problems that may arise when submitting the paper. We will send a note of acknowledgement when the paper is received in good order.


Previous Recipients of the CESS Annual Conference Best Graduate Student Paper Award


2016  Darren Byler (University of Washington), “Folk Rhythms in the City: Embodied Refusal among Uyghur Migrants."

2015 – Joint award: Guldana Salimjan (University of British Columbia), “Debating Gender and Kazakhness: Aytis Cultural Exchange between China and Kazakhstan,” and Isaac Scarborough (London School of Economics and Political Science), “(Over)Determining Social Disorder: Tajikistan and the Economic Collapse of Perestroika.”

2014 – Tekla Shmaus (Indiana University, Bloomington), “The Pastoral Landscape in Prehistoric Semirech'ye.”

2013 – Roberto Carmack (University of Wisconsin-Madison), “History and Hero Making: The Sovietization of Kazakh Frontline Propaganda, 1941-1945.”

2012 – Max Oidtmann (Harvard University), “To Be ‘One’s Own Master’: The 19th Century Conflict between Qing Colonial Officials and the Monastic Domain of the Cagan Nomun Han Kūtuku.”

2011 – Ian Lanzillotti (The Ohio State University), “From Princely Fiefdoms to Soviet Nations: Interethnic Border Conflicts in the North Caucasus and the Village of Lesken.”

2010 – Joseph MacKay (University of Toronto), “International Politics in 18th and 19th Century Central Asia: Beyond Anarchy in International Relations Theory.”

2009 – David Merrell (University of Washington), “Legal Reform in Afghanistan: What Kyrgyzstan Can Add to the Debate over Engaging Non-State Councils of Elders in Afghanistan.”

2008 – Christopher Whitsel (Indiana University, Bloomington), “Family Conditions, Democratic Choice, and Sitting at Home: Investigating Educational Participation in Post-Soviet Tajikistan.”

2007 – Julie McBrien (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle-Saale), “On Push-Up Bras and Headscarves: Experiencing Multiple Modernities in Kyrgyzstan.”

2006 – Madeleine Reeves (University of Cambridge), “States of Improvisation: Border-making as Social Practice in the Ferghana Valley.”

2005 – Joint award: Kenneth Michael Bauer (University of Oxford), “Development and State-Society Relations in Pastoral Tibet since the Reforms,” and Meghan Simpson (Central European University) “Local Strategies in Globalizing Gender Politics: A Study of Women’s Organizing in Contemporary Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.”

2004 – Irina Liczek (New School University, New York), “Cultural Parameters of Gender Policy-making in Contemporary Turkmenistan.”

2003 – Fuad Aliev (Boston University), “Evaluating the Effect of Primary Health Care Reforms on Access to Health Care in Ferghana Province, Uzbekistan: The Role of Community-Based Surveys.”

Honorable Mention: Christiane Gruber (University of Pennsylvania), “The Keir Miraj and Islamic Picture Recitation in the Fifteenth Century.”

2002 – Michael A. Reynolds (Princeton University/Harvard University), “Inchoate Nation Abroad: Tsarist Russia, Nation-Building, and the Kurds of Ottoman Anatolia, 1908-1914.”

Honorable Mention: Alexander C. Diener (University of Wisconsin-Madison), “Settlement of the Returning Kazakh Diaspora: History, Climate, Social Networks, and the Nationalization of Social Space.”