African Studies Association 2021 Awards for Africanists

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 announced the honors and winners during the organization’s Virtual Annual Meeting, November 16-20. You can download the complete press release for these prizes here.

The ASA presented the Distinguished Africanist Award to honor the life work of Oyèrónkẹ́ Oyěwùmí, Stony Brook 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.

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

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The finalists for the 2021 ASA Best Book Prize were: Naminata Diabate, Naked Agency: Genital Cursing and Biopolitics in Africa (Duke University Press, 2020); Jacob Dlamini, The Terrorist Album: Apartheid’s Insurgents, Collaborators, and the Security Police (Harvard University Press, 2020); Xavier Livermon, Kwaito Bodies: Remastering Space and Subjectivity in PostApartheid South Africa (Duke University Press, 2020); Ambreena Manji, The Struggle for Land and Justice in Kenya (James Currey, 2020); and M’hamed Oualdi, A Slave Between Empires: A Transimperial History of North Africa (Columbia University Press, 2020).

The ASA Best Book Prize was awarded to Naminata Diabate, Naked Agency: Genital Cursing and Biopolitics in Africa (Duke University Press, 2020).

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.

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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 finalists for the 2021 Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize are: Emily Brownell, Gone to Ground: A History of Environment and Infrastructure in Dar-es-Salaam (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020); Samuel F. Derbyshire, Remembering Turkana: Material Histories and Contemporary Livelihoods in North-Western Kenya (Routledge studies in African Archaeology and Cultural Heritage, 2020); Mai Hassan, Regime Threats and State Solutions: Bureaucratic Loyalty and Embeddedness in Kenya (Cambridge University Press, 2020); and Sarah G. Phillips, When there was No Aid: War and Peace in Somaliland (Cornell University Press, 2020).

The Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize was awarded to Mai Hassan, Regime Threats and State Solutions: Bureaucratic Loyalty and Embeddedness in Kenya (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

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The ASA presented the 2021 Outstanding Service Award to Dr. Martha Saavedra, University of California, Berkeley. Each year, the African Studies Association presents the Outstanding Service Award to a member of the association who has distinguished themselves through their dedication to the ASA’s mission by: facilitating the production of knowledge about Africa and its diasporas; its dissemination within the academy or in civil society; or by establishing or supporting collaborations and exchanges between institutions in the global north and in Africa.

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The winner of the 2021 Graduate Student Paper Prize is Justin Haruyama: “Shortcut English: A Pidgin Language and Symbolic Power at a Chinese-operated Mine in Zambia.”

In 2021, the committee selected two papers for Honorable Mentions: George Spisak: ”Pirated Sovereignty: The Exceptional Nature of Somali Piracy” and Aisha C. Udochi: “‘Flying Geese or False Promises: Assessing the Viability of Foreign:’ Direct Investment-Driven Industrialization in Nigeria’s Shoe Manufacturing Industry.”

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.

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The ASA Board of Directors recognized the film Eyimofe (This Is My Desire) directed by Chuko and Arie Esiri as the recipient of the 2021 ASA Film Prize.

In 2021, the committee selected two runners up This is not a burial, This is a resurrection (2019), and Adam (2019).

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The Gretchen Walsh Book Donation Award committee selected one recipient for the 2021 Gretchen Walsh Book Donation Award: Christiansborg Archaeological Heritage Project Library (CAHP), Ghana.

The African Studies Association and 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.

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