We are pleased to announce the launch of the first Steppe Sisters blog post/video contest!  This year, we would like applicants to answer the question: In what ways can we reconceptualize the Silk Roads as more than just a means of trade, but as a social and cultural phenomenon with a lasting legacy? In a video or a blog post, tell us what the Silk Roads means to you and why it matters today!


The topic of the so-called “Silk Roads,” deeply rooted in the idea of a shared past, has been gaining increasing visibility, in part due to its various modern appropriations within the political discourses of Afro-Eurasian countries and large-scale initiatives such as China’s Belt and Road. Even so, academics struggle to make their perspectives accessible to wider audiences. This competition aims to highlight early career women’s* voices and perspectives on the long-term history of connectivity and the ways our academic disciplines can create a more equal and just future at the local, regional, and global levels. It also hopes to provide an opportunity for participants to develop their communication skills and generate insightful content that has an impact outside of academia.


Your submission, either as a blog post or video, should be based on your unique academic perspective but directed to a non-specialist audience. We hope that the chance to submit in either written or video format will account for a wider range of skills and participation. The contest is open to all registered members of the Steppe Sisters Network** and the deadline for submissions is September 30th, 2023. The winner will receive a cash prize and be invited to present their work at the Steppe Sisters annual meeting.


*Women encompass all women, based on gender identity or/and biological sex, and underrepresented groups, as well as those discriminated against based on their gender identity.

**To become a member, join us here. There is no cost to become a member!

Contest Prompt


In what ways can we reconceptualize the Silk Roads as more than just a means of trade, but as a social and cultural phenomenon with a lasting legacy?


Contest Rules


  • ELIGIBILITY: The contest is open to all undergraduate and graduate (master and doctorate) women* students, regardless of their field, country of origin, or residence. We especially welcome applications from women in CIS countries.***


*** CIS countries: Kazakhstan, Moldova, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan.


  • DEADLINE: All blog posts/videos must be received by Saturday, September 30th 2023  by 11:59 PM +00 (London time). The entries must be submitted before the deadline to hello@steppesisters.org (see instructions below).


    • Participants must submit either a blog post or a video, not both. 
    • Only one submission per candidate will be considered.
    • Participants are free to base their work on primary sources, secondary sources, or rely on any other source that may be appropriate to the theme and format of the submission.
    • By submitting your blog post/video, you declare that you are the author, the blog post/video is based on accurate data, and that you give us your consent to publish your submission on our public venues (website, youtube, social media).
    • Plagiarism of any kind will result in disqualification (this includes artificial intelligence content creators such as chatGPT).


    • Blog post
      • Submissions must be made as a PDF file.
      • Between 1000-1200 words (double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point font) not including the list of references at the end.
      • Title page (not numbered in word count) that includes: name, school, country of birth, the title of the blog post, and word count.
      • Can include 1-3 figures with captions and source.
    • Videos 
      • 3 minutes maximum.
      • Title screen that includes: name, school, country of birth, title of the video, and running time.
      • Submissions must be made as links to Youtube or another free video host or online storage (Vimeo, Facebook, Google Drive, Dropbox).


Attention: Submissions that do not follow this format will be automatically disqualified.


    • Blog posts must be submitted in English or Russian.
    • Videos can be summited in any language, but must have English or Russian subtitles if not in one of these languages.


    • In judging the blog posts and videos, we will give equal weight to three criteria: 1) content, 2) delivery, and  3) creativity.
        1. Content: How well does the student address the specific question? Does the author effectively support their perspective/argument with evidence and examples? 
        2. Delivery: Is the content clearly presented to a non-academic audience? How engaging is the submission for a general audience?
        3. Creativity: Does the author present their work in a creative approach? How much of a unique perspective does the author offer in their work? 


    • The prize for the best blogpost/video is $200.
    • The winner will be invited to present their work in person at the following Steppe Sisters general meeting.
    • The winning blog post.video will be posted on the Steppe Sisters' public venues (website, Youtube, and social media).
    • The two runner-ups will receive an honorable mention and also be posted on the Steppe Sisters' public venues (website, Youtube, and social media).




Acknowledgments: The Prize for the best blog post and video has been generously made possible by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.