Pozen Center Prize for Best BA Thesis on Race and Human Rights


In 2021, the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights announced a prize for excellence in BA essay projects about race and human rights in the United States or globally.

A prize of $1,000 will be awarded to the best BA essay submitted on any topic at the intersection of race, structural racism, and human rights. Submissions may be BA essays in any field in the Social Sciences or the Humanities.

Only students in the College who complete a BA essay on a topic at the intersection race and human rights in the year they submit it are eligible for this award.


Submissions are due by Sunday, April 30, 2023 at 11:59pm CT.

Apply here.

2022 Essay Competition Winners

Jonathan Chung (History)
Thesis title: Late-colonial Incels? Erotic Debasement, Celibacy, and the Hindu Nationalist Movement

Committee Commendation: This thesis masterfully investigates the puzzling relationship between Hindu celibacy, masculinity, and nation-making in the context of the British colonial encounter and postcolonial India. Chung is successfully able to demonstrate how Hindu men's celibacy is framed as both distinct from hegemonic British masculinity and, unexpectedly, as building the nation and generative of Hindu citizens. While Indian subjects invert their orientalist portrayal as weak and effeminate into one of power and control, the significance of this reclaiming discourse has taken on new meaning in the contemporary era of Hindu nationalism, during which Hindu sexual control has also been violently unleashed against Indian Muslims. The contested and political nature of Indian sexuality in the public sphere is represented in the thesis as both intensely complex and central to understanding Indian politics today, shedding light on Indian masculinities, gendered and religious violence, and imagining the Indian nation-state and its citizenry.

Maria Mirasol (Sociology, Public Policy)
Thesis title: Deconstructing Stigma: Lessons from the ConTextos Rehabilitation Program at the Salvadoran Juvenile Detention Center of Tonacatepeque

Maria Mirasol’s thesis is an exemplary investigation of a rehabilitation initiative in the Salvadoran juvenile detention center of Tonacatepeque. El Salvador has the second highest incarceration rate in the world. Through careful historicization of the transnational dynamics that generated a rise of street gangs in El Salvador, a sophisticated theoretical framework, as well as careful and extensive fieldwork, Mirasol examines the ways in which stigma toward young people structures the rehabilitation program designed to support gang-affiliated youth. Stigma, she argues, is not only the product of societal processes. Instead, it is reproduced in the rehabilitation program as personnel turn to labels such “criminal” or “incompetent” to adapt to their working conditions. Moreover, through interviews with gang-affiliated youth, Mirasol show how they challenge their stigmatization, by crafting their own narratives. Mirasol brings the voices of the both the youth and the staff to the foreground in her research. The product is rich and textured analysis of the experiences, consequences and resistances to criminalization. 

Christina Howard (Sociology, Public Policy)
Thesis title: Care Under Carcerality: Strategies of Women with Incarcerated Loved Ones

Committee commendation: Christina Howard’s consideration of care and carcerality is a rare work of attentive investigation, nuanced interview, deep analysis, and beautiful writing. Wonderfully gifted as an interviewer, Howard spoke carefully with nine women who are caring for incarcerated loved ones; their voices and stories come through with the vividness of great creative nonfiction, and their own observations become the basis of Howard’s responsive and insightful categories and research questions. The reader of this thesis really sees Olivia with “t-shirts of every color” in her car, so that she can deal with the impossible demands of the guards and still get access to her loved one, and the reader carries Willa’s statement, “and people don’t understand, we’re serving time with them…” These moments crystallize our understanding of Howard’s subtle theoretical work to build out ideas of gendered care work and of secondary prisonization, creating an original, impressive, and illuminating work of scholarship and creativity.


Please direct any questions to Deputy Director Adam Avrushin.