Dr Cyril Timo Schäfer Memorial Graduate Student

Conference Presentation Awards

 Dr Cyril Timo Schäfer

Dr Cyril Timo Schäfer

The Dr Cyril Timo Schäfer Memorial Graduate Student Conference Presentation Awards take place at the Association's annual conference. The purpose of the awards is to recognise excellence in conference presentation skills by ASAA/NZ graduate student members. Prizes are as follows:

1st place = $100
2nd place = $75
3rd place = $50

If you are a student presenting at the conference and would like to be considered for the award, please ensure you are a current ASAA/NZ member.


  1. The awards are offered annually to graduate student members of ASAA/NZ who are presenting work at an ASAA/NZ Conference.
  2. Students will be considered for the awards if they are currently enrolled in a graduate degree in Cultural or Social Anthropology at a New Zealand University, or have graduated from such a programme in the 12 months prior to the conference.
  3. The awards are given for the most outstanding conference presentations (not written papers) and are based on the quality of both content and presentation.
  4. First, second, and third place prizes will be awarded.
  5. The three winning abstracts will be archived on the ASAA/NZ website.


  1. The awards will be judged by a panel of ASAA/NZ Committee members during the annual ASAA/NZ Conferences.
  2. First, second, and third place winners will be announced at the end of each conference.

2017 winners

The awards panel for the 2017 AAS/ASA/ASAANZ Shifting States Conference - Graeme Whimp (Victoria University of Wellington), Carolyn Morris (Massey University), Caroline Bennett (Victoria University of Wellington), Peter Howland (Massey University), Graeme MacRae (Massey University), Fiona McCormack (University of Waikato) and Ruth Fitzgerald (University of Otago) - judged six student presentations. Abstracts from the winning presentations are below.

First place: Janepicha Cheva-Isarakul, Victoria University of Wellington

Looking Thai, acting Thai: embodiment of Thainess among stateless Shan youth in northern Thailand

For stateless youth in Thailand, public schools represent both space of normalization and differentiation. On the one hand, school provides a "protected zone" where their identity as students supersedes their statelessness and where in theory they achieve equal status to their Thai peers. On the other hand, school is instrumental in reinforcing state's ideals of Thainess that exclude non-citizens such as themselves. At once space of exclusion and inclusion, school is where the body, mind, and emotions of stateless youth are simultaneously trained to perform citizenship habitus and master "the techniques of the (Thai) body".

Grounded in my 11-month-PhD ethnographic research on the lifeworlds of stateless Shan youth in urban areas in Chiang Mai, this paper conceptualizes the body of stateless youth as both a political locus of state's version of citizenship and a personal expression of agency. In exploring how daily rituals and public performances of citizenship conducted in Thai public schools shape the body, movement and performance of Thainess among stateless Shan youth, I call the attention to the state-crafted "aesthetic citizenship". I also aim to reveal how stateless youth apply these techniques of the (Thai) body acquired in school as strategies for survival and self-protection as they spatially navigate the city. I argue that these strategic performances of "aesthetic citizenship" presents a critical paradox: on a personal level it demonstrates agency but on a macro level, it perpetuates the Thai state's project of exclusion.

Second place: Jacinta Forde, University of Waikato

Kaitiakitanga ki te Toheroa (Guardianship of Toheroa)

Prior to the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Māori collectively owned and controlled the natural resources of New Zealand. The misunderstandings between the two versions of the treaty have given rise to considerable tension between the Crown and Māori in relation to the management of natural resources, fisheries and land. The traditional resource management tool of kaitiakitanga is a cultural institution founded on the principles and processes of kaupapa (principles) and tikanga (custom) and is an indigenous management model that pre-dates European incursion into the country. Since the colonial era, it has been adopted into the Resource Management Act (1991) to mean stewardship/guardianship over a resource and Māori are required to fulfil certain requirements, set by the state, in order to practice their kaitiakitanga rights. I will discuss the tension between Māori and the State in relation to the understanding of traditional resource management, namely kaitiakitanga (including rahui (ban) and translocation), specifically in regards to the management of the taonga (treasured) species, toheroa.

Third place: Hina Tabassum Cheema, Massey University

Illusions and disillusions: dilemmas of anthropological fieldwork

Prior to embarking on fieldwork, over the course of a year I developed and refined my research methodology, attentive to situations where participants might feel uneasy, emotionally disturbed or otherwise uncomfortable. I went through a full human ethics review process to ensure I was alert to every potential situation arising in the field. Over the same period I made time to establish rapport with potential research participants. As a part of my pre-fieldwork preparations, I attended three annual conferences of the Islamic Women National Council (IWCNZ) along with many other events such as mosque visits, Friday prayers, and Eid festivals. I became acquainted with many Muslim women from Auckland. All of them eagerly exchanged their contact details with me and offered themselves as interviewees or directed me to other relevant women for interviews. However, when I finally started my fieldwork nothing occurred as planned. Most of the women either did not respond to my calls or answer my emails and texts or just apologised and refused to participate. A few women said that my research looked very "intrusive" and it was hard for them to free up time to be involved. Other women agreed to interview for just the one sitting. At that juncture my hopes shattered as I questioned my anthropological training, berating myself for being an inadequate researcher. I overestimated my access on the basis of shared religion which was insufficient to confer an insider position. Moreover, complying with institutional ethical procedures from A-Z created a false sense of security not borne out during the research.

2015 winners

The inaugural awards were made at the 2015 ASAA/NZ conference. Jeff Sluka (Massey University), Julie Park (University of Auckland), Trisia Farrelly (Massey University), and Catherine Trundle (Victoria University of Wellington) were on the awards panel and judged eighteen student papers. The winning abstracts are below.

First place: Jessica Halley, Massey University

The politics of resettlement: Bhutanese refugees and the problem with ‘community’

New Zealand’s refugee resettlement strategy is focused on fostering a sense of independence and community among refugee groups. Yet for Bhutanese youth, resettlement in Palmerston North has provided fresh cultural texts which shape imagined identities. These imagined identities often conflict with wider Bhutanese community values. Here discourses of a ‘collective Bhutanese community’, promoted within New Zealand’s resettlement process, complicate the experience of growing up in a new country. For the anthropologist at home, exploring the paradoxical nature of ‘community’ (Young 1968) reveals how resistance and conformity are not always opposing actions; rather they can occur simultaneously through everyday behavior.

The photos below were taken by Jessica's research participants in July 2013 as part of a visual ethnographic project they were working on together. You can read more about Jessica's research on New Zealand anthropology blog www.anthsisters.com.

Second place: Sally Raudon, University of Auckland

Hurry up please, it’s time: conflicting temporalities of Australian constitutional reform

This paper analyses how republicans and monarchists rely on unexamined chronologies in debates about Australian constitutional reform, and who should be the Australian head of state. The Australia Republican Movement’s slogans – “It’s time!” –often imply that a deadline has arrived, and a new constitutional era awaits. This assumes a teleological narrative in which a colonial state’s constitutional order progresses through a series of typical forms of sovereignty, culminating in the apotheosis of the republic. Conversely, many monarchists regard the inheritance of centuries of well-tested monarchical stability as a priceless cultural treasure. However, they assume monarchy is timeless and perpetual when in fact it is, like republicanism, substantially a modern invention.

Both monarchist and republican positions represent diverging examples of temporality, the perception and social organisation of time. I argue that both the republican paradigm of progressive constitutional development, and monarchists’ historicization, disguise deeply emotive positions about how power should operate within Australia. Rendering clearly the distance between republican and monarchist assumptions about time reveals some of the hidden cultural logic operating in this vigorous debate about Australia’s constitutional order.

Third place: Jess Bignell, Massey University

Studying up: The practical parts of doing ethnography with powerful people

In this talk, I will dicuss some of the practical challenges of undertaking ethnographic fieildwork in an ‘upwards’ study. I spent 2013 undertaking fieldwork with four MPs in Aotearoa New Zealand’s Parliament, aiming to understand generational change in the Green Party. I will discuss the challenges I faced, like security, well-practiced narratives, and a lack of koru club membership with a view to considering to what extent it’s possible to underkate completely immersive ethnography while studying up.