crowded street

The Soraya Altorki Award in Ethnographic Research

This award is established in 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 Spring, the Award Committee will select the best piece of ethnographic, for a $1000 prize.

  • The Altorki award is open to undergraduate students in their junior or senior years, who are majoring, double majoring or minoring in Anthropology. The award is also open to junior and senior year students in other social sciences and humanities degree programs at AUC. 

    To be considered for the award, all entries must engage with ethnographic methodology and modes of writing.

    Applicants may submit work that builds upon a study already completed for coursework or a piece of research specifically undertaken in pursuit of the Award. Those who are undertaking research specifically in pursuit of the award are encouraged to consider applying for an undergraduate research support grant, where appropriate.

    Ethnographic papers should be between 7000-9000 words in length (including references) and should follow the standard protocols for social science research, including a discussion of methods and an accurate citation 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.


  • Ethnographic work which involves human subjects and is intended for publication must receive Institutional Review Board clearance. For undergraduate students this means that you must have a faculty mentor who will apply for the clearance as your sponsor. For more information about IRB and to access the forms and templates visit, click here. 

    You need to complete the required human subjects training before submitting to the IRB application. The training takes three to four hours to finish, click here for the training website. 

    Training is free of charge and you get a certificate that is valid for six months at the end process.

  • Prospective candidates for this Award should aspire to meet the requirements for publishable work. The standard of “publishable” in this context is that standard expectations of undergraduate anthropology journals, such as The Journal for Undergraduate Ethnography, or Nexus: The Canadian Student Journal of Anthropology and AUC’s Undergraduate Research Journal URJe

    Subsequent to being awarded, winners will be given support and guidance to publish their award-winning ethnographic work in a relevant peer reviewed undergraduate research journal.

  • There will be two cycles for the academic year 2021-2022, taking the pandemic into account and to facilitate participation for the greatest number of students. 


    Cycle One

    Deadline for Applications: June 1, 2021

    Deadline for submission of ethnographic pieces: November 1, 2021 

    First place winner will be announced and awarded at the January 2022 school based graduation ceremonies


    Cycle Two

    Deadline for Applications:  December 15, 2021  

    Deadline for submission of ethnographic pieces: May 20,  2021.

    Second place winner will be announced and awarded at the June 2022 commencement ceremony.


    To apply, please email, before deadlines listed above.


    Required Information and Documents

    1) An abstract of 150-200 words

    2) Full name

    3) Student ID number

    4) Major and minor degree information and status

    4) Name and contact details of your faculty mentor


  • Ethnography is a genre of writing common in the social sciences that has 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 details 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 object, spaces, events and networks. Ethnographic work aims to capture the everyday practices that give meaning to people’s lives. Today, the 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 the 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. Professor Altorki has been teaching Anthropology at AUC since 1977, and her major fields of interest include family, gender studies, youth and comparative religion. Professor Altorki has authored more than 40 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