The Department of French and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society announce a new essay prize for undergraduates and for graduate students, respectively.

2023 Prize Winners:

Peter Chen (PhD candidate in EALAC/ICLS)
“The Logic of Race in Late Qing China: Revisiting Zhang Taiyan’s minzu zhuyi”

Sybil Fu (CC’23, Comparative Literature and Society)
“Bleeding Borders and Severed Roots: Abjected Bodies and Subjecthood in Migrant Art”

Amir Mohammad Izadpanahi (PhD candidate in MEESAS/ICLS)
“Global ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’”

Thalia Von Moltke (CC’23, Comparative Literature and Society)
“Razed Stakes: Spectacular Images of Housing-Block Demolitions and their Narrative Remains”

The Étienne Balibar undergraduate essay prize will be awarded annually to the best essay in cultural and political thought by a Columbia University undergraduate majoring/concentrating in French & Francophone Studies, Comparative Literature & Society or Medical Humanities, or Barnard Comparative Literature. The essay should have been written in the last 12mos and must be previously unpublished. (It will be published in the Gadfly.)

The Étienne Balibar graduate essay prize will be awarded annually for the best essay in cultural and political theory by a Columbia Masters or PhD student in the Department of French and/or the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. The essay must be completed within the past 18mos. It can be previously published as the winner will not be published in the Gadfly (an undergraduate journal.)

Eligibility requires that you are or were a student in either the Department of French or ICLS during the current academic year. If you graduated during the academic year, you may still submit for this prize.

Each prize recognizes the important contributions that political philosopher Étienne Balibar made as a scholar and teacher during his twelve years as a visiting professor at Columbia University. Submissions are invited on all areas of cultural and political thought, in particular topics explored by Étienne Balibar e.g., nation, citizenship, borders, migration, globalization, world systems, race, class, and the legacies and applications of Marx and Marxism. There are no restrictions with respect to methodology or disciplinary approach.

Submissions may be based on previous coursework or on a thesis/dissertation chapter. The expectation is that the essay was written within the past 12 months. The prescribed length is 8 to 20 double-spaced pages for undergraduate submissions, and 10 to 30 double-spaced pages for submissions by graduate students. For papers in other languages, please provide an English translation with the original.

Please clearly include your name, department, as well as your year in the undergraduate or the graduate program.

Please follow the Chicago notes & bibliography citation format.

All submissions will be evaluated by a committee of faculty from the Department of French and the Executive Committee of ICLS.

Note: There will also be student representation from the Gadfly magazine for evaluation of the undergraduate essay, which will publish the winning undergraduate essay.

Submissions must be sent electronically as a PDF by May 30, 2024, at 5pm with “LAST NAME- Étienne Balibar Essay Prize” in the subject header. Please submit essays to:

Questions may be addressed to Julie Stevens, DAAF, Department of French ( or to Sarah Monks, Assistant Director, ICLS (

Each winner will receive a prize of $600.

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