African Studies Association Announces 2020 Finalists and Awards for Africanists

PISCATAWAY, New Jersey, 9 November 2020 – The African Studies Association is honored to announce its annual awards heralding some of the most prominent contributions to the field of African Studies. The ASA will announce the honors and winners on Saturday, 21 November 2020 during the closing ceremony of the organization’s Virtual Annual Meeting.

Highlights of the 2020 award ceremony will include:

The Distinguished Africanist Award to honor the life work of Frederick Cooper, New York University. Each year, the African Studies Association presents the Distinguished Africanist Award to a member of the association who has made extraordinary contributions to the field. Considered in deliberations are the candidate’s research productivity, cumulative research impact; impact on teaching; impact on publishing; editorial work; graduate supervision; impact on transformative policies or institutional building in Africa, community outreach; and impact on professional organizations.

A complete interview with Frederick Cooper can be found here.

Previous honorees include: Pearl Robinson, Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, Iris Berger, J.H. Kwabena Nketia, and Goran Hyden.


The ASA Book Prize will be awarded at the 2020 award ceremony.

The finalists for the 2020 ASA Book Prize are: Kamari Maxine Clarke, Affective Justice: The International Criminal Court and the Pan-Africanist Pushback, Duke University Press, 2019; Adom Getachew, World Making After Empire: The Role of Self-determination, Princeton University Press, 2019; Elizabeth Giorgis, Modernist Art in Ethiopia, Ohio University Press, 2019; Adeline Masquelier, Fada: Boredom and Belonging in Niger, University of Chicago Press, 2019; and Ndubueze Mbah, Emergent Masculinities: Gendered Power and Social Change in the Biafran Atlantic Age, Ohio University Press, 2019.

The award recognizes the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English and distributed in the United States during the preceding year. The ASA began awarding the prize in 1965.


The Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize will be awarded at the 2020 award ceremony.

The finalists for the 2020 Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize are: Steven Fabian, Making Identity on the Swahili Coast. Urban Life, Community, and Belonging in Bagamoyo, Cambridge University Press, 2019; Elizabeth Giorgis, Modernist Art in Ethiopia, Ohio University Press, 2019; David Morton, Age of Concrete: Housing and the Shape of Aspiration in the Capital of Mozambique, Ohio University Press, 2019; and Megan A. Styles, Roses from Kenya: Labor, Environment, and the Global Trade in Cut Flowers, University of Washington Press, 2019.

The ASA presents the Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize annually to the author of the best book on East African studies published in the previous calendar. The prize began in 2012 and is named in honor of Prof. Bethwell A. Ogot, a leading Kenyan historian, public servant and public intellectual, through a generous bequest from the estate of Prof. Kennell Jackson, Jr., of Stanford University.


The winner of the 2020 ASA Graduate Student Paper Prize is Allen Xiao (University of Wisconsin) for his paper, “Lagos in Life: Placing Cities in Lived Experiences.”

This year, the committee has selected two papers for Honorable Mentions: “African Sanitary Inspectors in Southwestern Nigeria: Historicizing Agency, Colonial ‘Sanitizing Mission’ and Public Health in British Africa” by Adebisi Alade and “Towards the Consolidation of the Slave Plantation System in West-Central Africa: The Early Commodification of Labor and the Expansion of Slavery in the Region of Benguela, 1760-1860” by Esteban Salas.

The ASA Board of Directors established the annual Graduate Student Paper Prize in 2001 and singles out an essay presented at the previous year’s Annual Meeting.


The ASA Board of Directors recognizes the film Ar Condicionado (Air Conditioner), directed by Fradique as the recipient of the 2020 ASA Film Prize. A viewing of the film will be made available for all ASA Annual Meeting registrants in preparation for a keynote Q&A with the director.

This year, the committee selected two runners up, Talking About Trees (2019), by Suhaib Gasmelbari and Khartoum Offside (2019), by Marwa Zein. The committee offers a honorable mention for the restored version of Shaihu Umar, distributed by ArtMattan.


The Gretchen Walsh Book Donation Award committee has selected three recipients for the 2020 Gretchen Walsh Book Donation Award: Nhedziwa Community Center, Chimanimani, Zimbabwe; Haddonfield Community Resource Center, Aweil, South Africa; Kokobe Primary School, Kokobe, Lesotho.

The African Studies Association, with the support of the Africana Librarians Council Gretchen Walsh Book Donation Committee, offers an annual grant to assist book donation projects with shipping costs to send books to African libraries and schools.