The McCown Prize

About the McCown Prize

The McCown Prize is awarded to the graduating senior judged to be the most outstanding Anthropology student in the class--someone that is BOTH an amazing student, and who has been actively engaged in the Anthropology community and ideally the community at large. Evidence of distinction in work done outside the Department may be taken into account, but McCown is primarily to reward for excellence in the work of the department.

A minimum 3.6 GPA in their major course work and a minimum overall UC GPA of 3.5 is required. Submit two letters of recommendation from faculty, two papers written for upper-division Anthropology courses, a resume/CV, and an essay of no more than 1 page.

2021 Award Winners:

Jiyoon Lee

Thesis: Korean Diaspora Archaeology: Korean Diaspora in the Early 20th Century West 

2020 Award Winners: 

Nathan Tilton 

Thesis: Discipline and Disable: How the Department of Veterans Affairs Disables Veterans

George Washington once stated, “A country is judged by how it cares for its veterans;” now fast forward to 2020 (Parsons 2016). How would the United States be judged? Since 2006, 22 veterans have committed suicide a day. This lethal trend continues unabated today with no signs of slowing down. Many researchers have explored this trend, but they tend to focus on trauma and neglect the impact of systemic, ableist institutions, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

The social model of disability has inspired me to ask and begin to answer in this thesis: how does the VA disable veterans? I draw on Mike Oliver’s social model of disability, in which the attitudes and structures of society, not their medical condition, disables a person (1983). I also apply Giorgio Agamben’s notion of bare life and Charles Brigg’s model of the unsanitary citizen to the experiences of veteran patients at the VA and their post-service experiences of feeling “lost” and being forced into the ableist, civilian workforce instead of taking time to heal. I utilize Alison Kafer’s model of crip time and explore how veterans employ and experience it, which often puts them at odds with the VA. My research examines how VA practices and policies contribute to disabling veterans and the phenomenon of veteran suicides.

Jordan Kobylt

Thesis: Social Mosaics and Stone Tapestries: Using Puuc architecture to examine social relationships in the northwestern Yucatán Peninsula

Between the late 8th and early 10th centuries CE, Maya-speaking people in the Puuc region of Mexico’s northwestern Yucatán Peninsula constructed monumental buildings characterized by elaborate sculptural mosaics in their upper friezes. While a relatively robust literature exists on the Puuc buildings’ high status patrons and users, significantly less emphasis has been placed on the stone carvers, builders, quarriers, and other laborers who would have been involved in building production. Using a theoretical framework in which the physical forms of archaeological materials are understood to have been shaped by the social practices of their makers, this paper focuses on similarities and differences between buildings from five key Puuc sites to examine the dynamic, multilayered, and heterogenous social worlds of the people who made them. This includes discussions of the variety of differently skilled individuals who cooperated to plan and construct the buildings, the complex systems of meaning that were embedded into mosaic designs, and the diverse processes through which communities of stone carvers and other laborers exchanged knowledge and production techniques both within and between sites.

Such discussions emphasize the agentive contributions of laborers in production processes, the complexity of the social networks that laborers participated in, and the ways in which those factors affected the unique material forms of architecture and mosaics produced throughout the Puuc region.