Graduate Student Paper Awards

The CESS Graduate Student Paper Award recognizes exceptional papers written by current graduate students and presented at the Annual Conference. One Graduate Student Paper Award will be presented after every CESS Annual Conference unless no papers of sufficient quality to merit the award are submitted or in case the conference does not take place.

The prize winner is awarded $500 and offered the opportunity to publish their paper in the Central Asian Survey.

Each year, an interdisciplinary panel of three scholars of Central Eurasian studies is chosen by the CESS Board and tasked with choosing a winner.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible, the following criteria must be met:

  • The student’s paper must have been accepted for presentation at the CESS Annual Conference;
  • The applicant must have been registered as a graduate student in the semester/term preceding the conference (e.g., for the 2023 Annual Conference, the semester/term ending by September 2023);
  • The paper should be consistent with the framework of those presented at the CESS Annual and Regional Conferences, addressing any topic in the humanities or social science study of Central Eurasia;
  • The paper may be drawn from thesis work or intended for eventual publication and should conform to standard academic guidelines for a journal article or conference presentation in terms of style, length, and presentation. Some dissertation chapters may need to be edited or rewritten to meet this standard.

Evaluation of papers

Papers are evaluated for their originality, research, and the quality of argument and presentation.

Originality – papers should accomplish one or more of the following…

  • create a new approach or methodology
  • apply an approach/methodology where it has not previously been used
  • explore a new topic
  • explore a familiar topic/question with a new type of evidence
  • come to a new or original conclusion, or one that points to a new direction in the field (e.g. a theoretical contribution)


  • original research of appropriate depth and breadth for the topic
  • familiarity with the literature on the topic, important theoretical considerations, and (inter)disciplinary argumentation
  • responsible and scholarly use of evidence

Argument and presentation

  • clear, precise, and concise writing
  • citation mechanism that is appropriate to the discipline
  • clear, logical, and well-substantiated conclusions/arguments
  • attention to disconfirming evidence and/or objections to the argument
  • appropriate background material and scholarly context

How to apply

The CESS Graduate Student Paper Award is offered for the papers presented at the Annual Conference in Pittsburgh in October 2023. The deadline to submit completed papers is DECEMBER 1, 2023.

The required application materials are:

  • Your paper (see eligibility criteria above) – in pdf format;
  • Proof that you were registered as a graduate student in the semester/term preceding the Annual Conference – e.g., a scan of your student card or official letter from your institution;
  • Name of your degree e.g., PhD in History, MA in Anthropology;
  • Optional: for record-keeping purposes only, you may provide us with your citizenship and gender identity. This information is NOT shared with the committee as it is irrelevant to the quality of your paper.

These application materials should be submitted by email to

Graduate Student Paper Award winners

2023: Nicholas Seay (Ohio State University): “By Tractor and Plane: Pesticides and Chemical Fertilizers in the Valleys of Soviet Tajikistan;” Nurlan Kabdylkhak (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill): Voices of the Faithful (Speaking Tsarist): Muslim Petitions in Late Imperial Russia;” 2022: Yipeng Zhou (Harvard University – US) //Research on Frontiers: Sino-Soviet Knowledge Campagins on the Central Asian Borderland; Amanda Caterina Leong (honorable mention) (University of California, Merced – US) // Rethinking female javanmardi: Nezami’s Haft Paykar as ‘Mirror for Princesses’ 2020-1: No award made 2019: Claire Roosien (University of Chicago – US) // ‘I Dress in Silk and Velvet’: Women, Textiles, and the Textile-Text in 1930s Uzbekistan View all past Graduate Student Paper Award winners

View all past Graduate Student Paper Award winners