crowded street

The Soraya Altorki Award in Ethnographic Research

About the Award                        

This award is established in the loving memory of the parents and brother of Soraya Altorki, professor of anthropology at AUC. The Altorki Award seeks to recognize outstanding undergraduate research that meets the expectations of publishable work and to increase student interest in the discipline of Anthropology at AUC. Each fall the award committee will award the best piece of ethnographic writing submitted with a $500 prize.

  • The Altorki award is open to undergraduate students from any major at AUC who are enrolled in a 3,000 or 4,000 level course in anthropology or sociology in the spring semester. Graduating seniors are also eligible to apply.

  • Most 3000 and 4000 level courses in anthropology and sociology involve or allow for your final paper to be researched and written ethnographically. Your final paper will be the basis of your entry to the Altorki award.

    If you are interested in submitting your work to the award, speak to your instructor. They will speak with you about your ideas and over the course of the semester will guide you on how to make your end-of-term paper ethnographic.

    You will also receive specific feedback related to your entry with your final paper feedback and grade. You will then have two weeks to address that feedback and submit your entry to the award.

    You must approach your instructor and fill out the form well in advance of the end of the spring semester to be eligible to submit and to have sufficient opportunity to be mentored by your instructor.

    Ethnographic papers should be between 4,000 - 6,000 words in length including references and bibliography. All manuscripts must be submitted in Chicago Manual Author-Date style in 12 point Times New Roman font and should be sent as a Microsoft Word file.

    All papers submitted to the award committee will be eligible to present their work at the annual student conference at the Department of Sociology, Egyptology and Anthropology.

  • You must apply to the award during the spring 2022 semester. For further details, speak to your instructor.

    Submission Date: June 15, 2022.

    Award announced by July 15.

    Awarded at HUSS awards ceremony or graduation ceremony in the fall of 2022.

  • Ethnography is a genre of writing common in the social sciences that have grown out of the discipline of Anthropology. Typically, an ethnography is a first-person immersive narrative that provides insight and texture to an aspect of life using sensory detail and storytelling techniques alongside description and interviews based on fieldwork engagement. Ethnographies have and continue to evolve; ethnographies continue to be concerned with social relationships, practices, and institutions of a community or group of people. But equally, ethnographers study objects, spaces, events and networks. Ethnographic work aims to capture the everyday practices that give meaning to people’s lives. Today ethnographic research and writing cover a dizzying array of subjects from organ donation to magic and divination, virtual communities, performance and visual arts and life in the gig economy. All and any aspect of life is amenable to ethnographic engagement. What makes ethnography unique among genres of writing in social science is that it provides an account of the world that tells us about the richness and complexity of everyday life and frequently reveals unexpected insights that are often overlooked by theory and paradigm-driven research.


  • Soraya Altorki is a professor of anthropology in the Department of Sociology, Egyptology and Anthropology at The American University in Cairo. She received her PhD in anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley in 1973 and is the first Saudi Arabian woman to have earned a PhD. Altorki has been teaching anthropology at AUC since 1977, and her major fields of interest include family, gender studies, youth and comparative religion. Altorki has authored more than forty scholarly journal articles and book chapters and has been a distinguished visiting professor at King Saud University, and visiting assistant professor at King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz University (1974-1976). She has been a postdoctoral research fellow at Northwestern University (1973-1977), Harvard University (1973-1974), the University of Pennsylvania (Spring 1984), UCLA; spring and summer 1992 and summer 1993, and at Georgetown University; spring and summer 1995. Additionally, she was the Arcapita Visiting Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University in spring 2010. For a full biography and list of publications visit professor Soraya Altorki’s faculty webpage.