MGR Student Prize


The New York Conference on Asian Studies (NYCAS) encourages the development of the skills of scholarly writing by awarding annual prizes for excellent student papers dealing with Asia. Two such prizes are awarded each year, one to an undergraduate student and one to a graduate student. Runners-up are named in each category.

The prizes honor the outstanding service of Dr. Marleigh Grayer Ryan, former Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Professor of Japanese Literature, and Coordinator of Asian Studies at SUNY New Paltz; and longtime Executive Secretary of NYCAS.

2023 Competition Information

Eligibility: Undergraduate and graduate students at a college or university in New York State.

Field: East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Asia in diaspora, and Asian American studies.

Awards: The First Prize winners in the Undergraduate and Graduate categories each will receive a $100 prize; up to $200 reimbursement for travel and expenses to attend the NYCAS  2023 Annual Meeting; and a waiver of the NYCAS 2023 registration fee, including conference meals at the NYCAS meeting

The Graduate Paper Prize winner will receive a complimentary one-year membership to the Association for Asian Studies and will be eligible to participate on a panel sponsored by the AAS Council on Conferences at the AAS annual meeting.

The Runner-up/Honorable Mention winners each will receive a waiver of the NYCAS 2023 registration fee, including conference meals at the NYCAS meeting.

The winning papers will be published on the NYCAS website and considered for presentation in a panel at the NYCAS meeting.

Format of papers: Papers should include a cover page giving the title of the paper, the student’s name, category, institution, and contact information (including current email and permanent mailing address).

Submission of papers: A student may submit only one entry. Papers may be submitted by the student author or by a faculty member acting on behalf of a student. A faculty member may not provide any evaluative comments at the time of nomination.

Papers should be submitted by email attachment only. Include an abstract of up to 150 words. Undergraduate papers are limited to 40 pages. Graduate papers are limited to 60 pages.

A submitted paper should stand alone and not be a segment of a larger work, such as a Senior Thesis, Masters’ Thesis, or Doctoral Dissertation.

Please include a completed cover sheet with your application. Attach the pdf cover sheet along with your paper in your submission email.

Entry deadline: June 1, 2023

Notification of awards by July 15, 2023

Submit papers by email attachment to:

Professor Tiantian Zheng, Chair

NYCAS Marleigh Grayer Ryan Prize Committee

NYCAS Congratulates the Winners of the 2022 Writing Prize Competition!

Graduate Prize Winner

Sujung Lee
Syracuse University

Abstract. This study examines migration decision of Chinese and Korean STEM graduate students in American universities after completing the degrees. This study challenges the homogenous understanding of international student and asks how the factors contributing to their migration decision interplay and add nuance to the ways international students interpret their mobility. Throughout the 18 interviewees, this study concludes that their migration decision is redefined in how they challenge convertibility of cosmopolitan capital, while navigating professional opportunities from multiple destination points. National differences are manifested in how Chinese and Korean students make post-graduation plans. Among those who desire to stay in the US, a fear of being a minority during the COVID-19 and hostile visa policies with a lack of institutional support underscore their vulnerability and precarity presented during their life transitions after graduation.

Graduate Honorable Mention Winner

Anjana Ramkumar
Cornell University

Abstract. The concept of food sovereignty has been mobilised to characterise a range of social movements encompassing diverse aims, interests, and actors. With origins in Central and Latin America, food sovereignty has been subject to critique and scrutiny in attempts to explicate its key tenets and to examine the opportunities it presents for the creation of alternative agri-food systems. This paper explores the way in which food sovereignty has come to be a complicated, and at the same time a contested, claim, as seen through its workings in the Indian context. Using Christina Schiavoni’s Historical, Relational and Interactive (HRI) approach, this exploration is operationalized as follows. First, the historical conditions shaping the agricultural landscape of contemporary India are identified. Second, the multiple, and at times conflicting, meanings encompassed by the term in India are considered. Third, interactions between the state and social movements are characterised. Taking the Green Revolution as a key point of reference, given its status as a seminal event in India’s agrarian history and a salient feature of its contemporary condition, this paper argues that food sovereignty movements are embedded within the nation’s post-colonial condition and are expressions of larger anti-imperial struggles.

Undergraduate Prize Winner

Patricia Winston
SUNY Cortland


The evolution of Chinese Cinema was a symbolic collection of art that helped shed light on the social and political movements throughout the twentieth century. It was an influential social institution at the time because many of the early Chinese films reflected everyday citizens that endured social and economic issues. It was a way for left-nationalist artists to send a message to the rest of the country about the issues China was facing with western imperialism and what the government of China should do about it. Chinese cinema, I argue, was its form of propaganda, especially during China’s golden ages in the 1930s, just before Mao Zedong, the leader of the communist party, took over China. The evolution of China not only sparked nationalistic ideas but also pushed for a new direction regarding women’s rights. Early Chinese Actresses paved the way for social movements for women’s liberation right after the last monarchical regime of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) that suppressed women’s rights. In the late 1920s silent films began to skyrocket with most leading actors being women; essentially reshaping the way women were thought to be of lower status. This paper will evaluate the transitions of social and political unrest throughout the twentieth century in China through the use of films and influential actresses that made Chinese films what they are today.

Undergraduate Honorable Mention Winner

Josh Pandossi
University at Buffalo


The Chinese word “Minzhu” is often equated to the word “democracy” in English translations. However, this translation is not entirely accurate and the definition is much vaguer than at first glance. With translations being ambiguous, it may be more helpful to understand minzhu from the perspective of those who have supported this concept. I look into both the Democracy Wall Movement of the late 1970s and the 1989 demonstrations in China to better understand what minzhu meant to this era of protesters. The definition of minzhu and the changes to it are fundamental in understanding these so-called democracy movements in the 1970s and 1980s.