Asia Essay Contest

To facilitate the growth and coherence of the Central Asian Studies field the Central Asia Program at the George Washington University provides support annually for the best graduate student research paper in Central Asian Studies.

The winner will receive a $300 award and will be offered the opportunity to publish the paper in Central Asian Affairs.


Applicants must be MA and PhD students writing a thesis or a doctorate on Central Asia. Postdoctoral scholars are not eligible to participate.

The essay should be submitted in English (the MA or PhD thesis can be in another language).

The essay must deal with contemporary wider Central Asia: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Topics on Afghanistan, Xinjiang, Mongolia and the Volga-Ural region
will be accepted too.

Historical papers will be accepted only if they clearly state how history helps to understand some current issues.
Papers should be original research projects using primary sources, rather than reviews of existing literature.

The essay should be between 6,000 and 8,000 words.

The essay should follow established norms for a scholarly publication and contain:

  • An abstract of 150 words maximum,
  • A hypothesis discussed in introduction,
  • A body in several parts,
  • A conclusion summarizing the findings,
  • Footnotes or endnotes,
  • A bibliography


Selection Process

The Central Asia Program will review all applications and pre-select the top 10 papers. Applicants will be informed by email if they have been preselected. The pre-selected applications will be sent to an Advisory Committee for anonymous reviewing and ranking.

Submit your Application

Submit your application through the online application form by November 15, 2017.

For recent updates, scroll down to the end of this article.

In partnership with the Literature Translation Institute of Korea, the Asia Literary Review will be holding an essay competition in 2018, focusing on a selection of short stories by Kim Ae-ran.

A rising young star of the Korean literary scene, Kim Ae-ran is the recipient of numerous awards. Her work has begun to be more widely translated and her novel, The Youngest Parents with the Oldest Child, was brought to the screen asMy Brilliant Life (2014) by the acclaimed film director E J-yong.

Kim Ae-ran is widely regarded as one of the most prominent voices of a new generation of millennial Koreans, articulating through her writing the challenges they face in a rapidly changing society.

The Contest

Essay Guidelines

♦ Based on three short fiction pieces published in issues 30 & 34 of the Asia Literary Review'The Youngest Parents With the Oldest Child''A Dignified Existence' and 'Where Would You Like to Go?'.

♦ Ideas to consider: What is the author saying through these stories about the lives of young professionals in contemporary Korean society? What literary techniques and elements of style does she uses to convey her stories? What makes her writing effective - or not? 

♦ Essay length – no more than 1,500 words.

References and citations

♦ Applicants may refer in passing to other works, but their main focus must be firmly on one or more of the three stories selected for the competition.

♦ Applicants are not required to refer to or quote from other writings on Kim’s work. However, if they choose to do so, they must follow standard UK conventions for citation. Unattributed quotation will disqualify the applicant.


♦ All essays must be written in English and sent to Essay [at] AsiaLiteraryReview [dot] Com by 24:00 GMT on 31 March 2018.

♦ Essays must be attached as a Word document in Times New Roman at 12pt, with the language set to English (UK).

♦ No headers, footers or page numbers.

♦ Word files may not include the applicant’s name, contact details or any other identifying information, either in the document itself or in the document’s Properties.

♦ The body of the email, however, must include the applicant’s full name, email address, postal address and contact number. Where the applicant is a student, this must be made clear and the name and address of the institution must be included.

♦ The Asia Literary Review reserves the right to publish, in print or on its website, at its sole discretion and upon prior notification to the selected essay authors, any submitted essays. Copyright thereafter is retained by the authors.

Judging Panel

♦ A panel of academics and professional editors, each an expert on contemporary Korean literature.


♦ Submissions are due by 24:00 GMT on 31 March 2018.

♦ A shortlist of 3-5 essayists will be selected by 31 May 2018.

♦ An award ceremony will be held in London in late June 2018 (date and venue tbd) when Kim Ae-ran is scheduled to visit the UK. The shortlisted essayists will pitch their essays and the judges will select a winner.


♦ Each shortlisted essayist will receive a Waterstones gift certificate worth GBP100.

♦ The winner will be invited to attend a private dinner with Kim Ae-ran in London during her UK visit.

'The Youngest Parents With the Oldest Child''A Dignified Existence' and 'Where Would You Like to Go?' will be made available to candidates in PDF format or through free copies of issues 30 and 34 of the ALR to be collected at the Korean Cultural Centre UK in London at 1-3 Strand, London WC2N 5BW. Contestants living outside London should send us an email to arrange for copies to be sent either by post or by email.

Please sign up for further updates on events, venues, terms and conditions.

Send an email to:

Essay [at] Asia Literary Review [dot] Com

Subject: Essay Competition updates


December 31 2017 - The competition is open to candidates of any nationality and from any country.

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