2019 Cultural Horizons Prize

The Society for Cultural Anthropology is happy to announce that the winner of the 2019 Cultural Horizons Prize is Sarah Luna (Tufts University) for her article, “Affective Atmospheres of Terror on the Mexico–U.S. Border.”

For more than twenty-five years, the SCA has been distinguished by having the largest graduate student membership of any section of the AAA. Recognizing that doctoral students are among the most experimentally minded—and often among the best-read—of ethnographic writers, the SCA created the Cultural Horizons Prize, which is awarded by a jury of doctoral students for the best article appearing in the previous year of Cultural Anthropology.

This Year’s Jurors

Thalia Gigerenzer (Princeton University)

Huatse Gyal (University of Michigan)

Justin Haruyama (UC Davis)

The Jurors Write:

Sarah Luna’s article, “Affective Atmospheres of Terror on the Mexico–U.S. Border,” is a particularly poignant and haunting account of the way rumors of violence have created “affective atmospheres of terror” in the Mexican border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas. Following the lives of sex workers and American missionaries in a prostitution zone in Reynosa, Luna very skillfully captures incredibly charged, ambivalent moments among her interlocutors, often using her own emotional and bodily reactions (nervous breathing; side-splitting laughter) to illustrate the affective atmosphere of these moments. What really stood out to the jury was how seamlessly Luna interwove these intimate ethnographic scenes with her original theoretical reflections on affect, rumors, and living with everyday violence. The result is a beautifully written ethnography of how rumors of violence shaped affective atmospheres of terror, very much grounded in the individual lives of Luna’s interlocutors.

Karen Strassler (CUNY-Queens College), Prize Chair and Board Member, Society for Cultural Anthropology