African Studies Association Announces 2018 Awards for Africanists

PISCATAWAY, New Jersey, 21 December 2018 – 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 on Saturday, 1 December 2018 in Atlanta during the closing ceremony of the organization’s annual meeting.

Highlights of the 2018 award ceremony include:

The Distinguished Africanist Award honored the life work of Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi (BA, University of Ghana; MA and Ph.D., the University of California at Davis) one of the most respected and well-known scholar-practitioners in Africa today. Gyimah-Boadi has published more than a dozen books and monographs, several influential peer-reviewed journal articles, and more than thirty book chapters.  He is probably best known for his roles as co-founder and leader of the Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and co-founder of the Afrobarometer. His work has touched the lives of millions of Africans, and his generous mentorship of the many student-scholars whose careers he supported is legendary.

Previous honorees include Iris Berger, J.H. Kwabena Nketia, Goran Hyden and Toyin Falola.

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. The committee considers a range of criteria, including 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.


The Melville J. Herskovits Book Prize to Lisa Lindsay of the University of North Carolina for her 2017 book, “Atlantic Bonds: A Nineteenth-Century Odyssey from America to Africa” (University of North Carolina Press, 312p.).
Honorable Mentions for the 2018 Melville J. Herskovits Prize included:   Joanna Grabski, Art World City: The Creative Economy of Artists and Urban Life in Dakar (Indiana University Press, 2017); Timothy Longman, Memory and Justice in Post-Genocide Rwanda (Cambridge University Press, 2017); Holly Porter, After Rape: Violence, Justice, and Social Harmony in Uganda (Cambridge University Press, 2017); Ann Swidler and Susan Cotts Watkins, A Fraught Embrace: The Romance and Reality of AIDS Altruism in Africa (Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology, 2017); Keren Weitzberg, We Do Not Have Borders: Greater Somalia and the Predicaments of Belonging in Kenya (Ohio University Press, 2017)

The award is named in honor of Melville J. Herskovits, one of the founders of the African Studies Association, and 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 Herskovits Prize in 1965.


The Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize honored Oakland University professor Getnet Bekele for his 2017 book, Ploughing New Ground: Food, Farming, and Environmental Change in Ethiopia(Woodbridge UK: James Currey).

Honorable Mentions for the Bethwell A. Ogot Book Prize include: Jonathon L. Earle, Colonial Buganda and the End of Empire (Cambridge University Press); Timothy Longman, Memory and Justice in PostGenocide Rwanda (Cambridge University Press, 2017); Paul Ocobock, An Uncertain Age: The Politics of Manhood in Kenya (Ohio University Press, 2017);.

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 bequest from the estate of Prof. Kennell Jackson, Jr., of Stanford University.


The ASA Board of Directors is pleased to honor two individuals with the ASA Service Award: Sandra Barnes, University of Pennsylvania, and Andrzej Tymowski, American Council of Learned Societies, for their successful efforts to further the study of Africa by responding to a request from the Carnegie Corporation, leading an initiative by the ACLS and the African Humanities Program to establish a fellowship program that changed the face of the humanities in Africa.  Thanks to their work, hundreds of fellows were able to deepen their scholarly studies, promote their books and articles, and build stronger networks with other Africanists.

Re-established in 2013, the ASA Service Award is designed to recognize individuals or organizations that have distinguished themselves through outstanding dedication to the ASA’s mission of encouraging production and dissemination of knowledge about Africa.


The Conover-Porter Prize for Africa studies bibliography this year recognized two outstanding works:  Historical Dictionary of Women in Sub-Saharan Africa, Second Edition(Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) by Kathleen Sheldon (UCLA) for and Dictionary of African Christian Biography (DACB). (Overseas Ministries Study Center; Center for Global Christianity and Mission, Boston University.) 1995–  by Jonathan Bonk (project director).

The Conover-Porter Prize is presented every two years by the ASA’s Africana Librarians Council, and was established in honor of two pioneers in Africa studies bibliography: Helen F. Conover was senior bibliographer, Africa Section of the Library of Congress, serving 32 years before her retirement in 1963; Dorothy B. Porter Wesley was librarian of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, retiring in 1973 after 45 years of service. The first award was presented in 1980.


The winner of the 2018 ASA Graduate Student Paper Prize was Shaonan Liu (Michigan State University) for his paper, “Symbol of Wealth and Prestige: A Social History of Chinese-made Enamelware in Northern Nigeria.
This year, the committee has selected two papers for Honorable Mentions:  “Poetry in Action: Evan Mawarire’s ‘This Flag’ and the Role of Collective Poetics in Imagining a Networked Zimbabwean Nation,” by Susanna Sacks (Northwestern) and “Drinking Oaths, Breaking Taboos, and Sacralizing Struggle: Rethinking Mau Mau Oathing in Late Colonial Kenya,” by Muoki Wa Mbunga (West Virginia University).

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


The Gretchen Walsh Book Donation Award committee has selected The Friends of African Village Libraries (FAVL), a non-profit organization based in San Jose, California, that supports 34 community libraries in Burkina Faso.

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


The winners of The Royal Air Morocco-African Studies Association Student Travel Award:

Marion Gladys Mendy, Ohio University; Kaden Paulson-Smith,  University of Wisconsin-Madison;  Kelly Brignac, Harvard University; Kate Carter, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Andrew Marshall, Ph.D. student; Nesrine Mbarek, Stanford University; Maria Bastião,University of Notre Dame;  Miriam Jerotich Kilimo, Emory University; Melanie Thompson, University of California, Berkeley; Samantha Lakin, Clark University; Augustine Farinola,University of Lagos; Esteban Salas, University of Notre Dame; Sasa Tang, American University;  Michele Solorio, Michigan State University;  Oluseyi Odunyemi Agbelusi, Syracuse University.

The Royal Air Morocco-African Studies Association Student Travel Award aims to increase the exchange of students and ideas between Africa and the United States and to award outstanding scholarship by future Africanists. The award, which is given at the Annual Meeting, provides round-trip tickets between the United States and any destination where Royal Air Morocco flies in Africa, to students of African Studies.

About the African Studies Association:

Established in 1957, the African Studies Association is the flagship membership organization devoted to enhancing the exchange of information about Africa. With almost 2,000 individual and institutional members worldwide, the ASA encourages the production and dissemination of knowledge about Africa, past and present, and hosts an annual meeting to foster networks of Africanist scholars and practitioners, provide access to path-breaking research and key debates in African Studies, and to promote a better understanding of Africa.  The ASA also edits two highly regarded journals, the African Studies Review and History in Africa, as well as books and monographs.   The 2019 ASA Annual Meeting will be held in Boston, November  20 to 24, 2019.  For further information, please visit:

Follow us:

Twitter:  @ASANewsOnline


ASA has a long and proud tradition of honoring individuals and organizations for their outstanding work in the field of African Studies. The ASA’s current awards include the following: