The Association for Queer Anthropology (AQA) is very pleased to announce the 2016 winners of the Ruth Benedict Book Prize for outstanding scholarship on a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender topic. The prize is presented each year at the American Anthropological Association’s national meeting to acknowledge excellence in a scholarly book written from an anthropological perspective that engages theoretical perspectives relevant to LGBTQ studies.
In the category of Outstanding Single-Authored Monograph, the 2016 Ruth Benedict Prize winner is David A.B. Murray for Real Queer? Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Refugees in the Canadian Refugee Apparatus (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015). Real Queer? analyzes the Canadian “refugee apparatus” as it concerns asylum seekers fleeing persecution based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity (SOGI). The book’s title highlights the main task facing claimants, their lawyers, and state agents, namely: to determine who is an “authentic” LGBT refugee and whose claim is “bogus.” To answer this question, the refugee apparatus requires mountains of evidence in the form of documents, which generates an onerous burden for claimants and their lawyers. Real Queer? is thus a critical ethnography of bureaucracy and the nation-state as much as an ethnographic account of queer lives. The book’s methodological rigor and theoretical dexterity make Real Queer? a powerful example of queer anthropology at its best.