Young Anthropologist

A 1,000-word essay competition for those interested in issues of identity and culture.

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Closing date for entries: 1 August 2022 at 5:00pm

What should I write about?

The title for the Young Anthropologist changes each year. This year, we are asking you to answer the question: What does the food you eat and how you eat it say about you and/or your culture?

The food we eat, how and where we eat it, and the way we behave when eating are all shaped by the people who surround us. Food can be local, grown in a back yard, or it can travel overseas; it can be prepared in the home, or in a factory. The social, cultural and environmental aspects of food are a gateway into understanding what’s important to people’s lives. This may include nutrition, sharing a meal with friends, tasting something new, or a reminder of home. It could also be about identity, body shape or a concern for the environment. 

Anthropologists have looked at the social nature of food and how it shapes us as people throughout the world. What we think about as food, what we should or shouldn’t eat, how to eat properly and who we eat with are all aspects of eating that extend food from a biologically essential fulfilment of our dietary needs into people’s religious/cosmological worldviews, their relationships with family, or into their political view about what constitutes an ethical diet. If ‘You are what you eat’ – what does your diet tell us about you?

Likewise – the rules, norms, customs, and rituals that underpin our eating shape our social lives. But it is also often the spaces between rules, the special occasions where things work differently or the times when norms are broken that provide us with moments of insight into the things we take for granted. What have you learned about yourself and others by eating together? 

For this year’s Young Anthropologist, we want you to draw upon your own experiences with food to explore the insights this might give others into you as a person or the culture in which you consume food. This can be any food, anywhere, at any scale – families, cities, countries, groups of people with common interests. What stories can you tell us that bring an aspect of this to life? What insight do you have to share?


The Young Anthropologist competition is for people aged 16 to 18. Applicants should be currently studying at a school or college in the UK. For a full list of entry criteria, please see our terms and conditions.


Once the closing date for submissions has passed, all entries will be read by our judging panel and a shortlist is drawn up. From this shortlist, we will select one winner and two runners up.

The chair of the judging panel this year is Dr Gavin Weston, Lecturer and Undergraduate Admissions Tutor in the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths.


All shortlisted entries will win a small prize. Two runners-up will receive £50 each. The winner of the Young Anthropologist will receive £1,000 and an invitation to an event at Goldsmiths to receive their trophy.

Do you need some inspiration on what to write about? Take a look at our previous winners' entries.