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ASA Best Book Prize

The African Studies Association (ASA) invites publishers to nominate titles for the ASA Best Book Prize. The ASA presents the ASA Best Book Prize to the author of the most important scholarly work in African studies published in English during the preceding year. The winner of the ASA Best Book Prize is announced each year at the ASA Annual Meeting, where he or she receives an honorarium of $500. A list of the finalists for the Prize is published in the Annual Meeting program. Past winners have included some of the most prominent names in African Studies.


Nominations for the ASA Best Book Prize are made directly by publishers who may nominate as many separate titles in a given year as they desire. Nominations must be original non-fiction scholarly works published in English and distributed in the United States. The subject matter must significantly deal with Africa and/or related areas (Cape Verde, Madagascar, or Indian Ocean Islands off the East African coast). Works that are not eligible include collections and compilations, proceedings of symposia, new editions of previously published books, bibliographies, and dictionaries. Only books with a 2022 copyright are eligible for the 2023 ASA Best Book Prize.

Nominations must be postmarked on or before April 1, 2023.

To nominate a publication, send an email to secretariat@africanstudies.org indicating the publisher you represent, address, email address, telephone, fax, the title(s) nominated, and one copy of each title directly to each committee member listed below.

2023 Committee

*Please send a list of nominations to the ASA Secretariat at secretariat@africanstudies.org for our records and copies of the nominees directly to the committee members listed below.

Abosede George, Barnard College (Chair)
Ben Twagira, Williams College
Michael Nelson, Monmouth College
Sheila Petty, University of Regina
Rudolph Gaudio, Purchase College
Corrie Decker, University of California, Davis

ASA Best Book Prize Winners (1965-Present)

  • 2023


  • 2022

    Cajetan Iheka, African Ecomedia: Network Forms, Planetary Politics (Duke University Press, 2021).

  • 2021

    Naminata Diabate, Naked Agency: Genital Cursing and Biopolitics in Africa (Duke University Press, 2020).

  • 2020

    Adom Getachew, World Making After Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-determination, (Princeton University Press).

  • 2019

    Michael A. Gomez, African Dominion: A New History of Empire in Early and Medieval West Africa (Princeton University Press).

  • 2018

    Lisa A. Lindsay, Atlantic Bonds: A Nineteenth-Century Odyssey from America to Africa (University of North Carolina Press)

  • 2017

    Fallou Ngom, Muslims Beyond the Arab World: The Odyssey of Ajami and the Muridiyya (Oxford University Press)

  • 2016

    Chika Okeke-Agulu, Postcolonial Modernism: Art and Decolonization in Twentieth-Century Nigeria (Duke University Press)

  • 2015

    Abena Dove Osseo-Asare, Bitter Roots: The Search for Healing Plants in Africa (University of Chicago Press)

  • 2014

    Allen and Barbara Isaacman, Dams, Displacement and the Delusion of Development: Cahora Bassa and its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965-2007 (Ohio University Press)

  • 2014

    Carola Lentz, Land, Mobility and Belonging in West Africa (Indiana University Press)

  • 2013

    Derek Peterson, Ethnic Patriotism and the East African Revival: A History of Dissent, c. 1935-1972 (Cambridge University Press)

  • 2012

    Simon Gikandi, Slavery and the Culture of Taste (Princeton University Press)

  • 2011

    G. Ugo Nwokeji, The Slave Trade and Culture in the Bight of Biafra: An African Society in the Atlantic World (Cambridge University Press)

  • 2010

    Neil Kodesh, Beyond the Royal Gaze: Clanship and Public Healing in Buganda (University of Virginia Press)

  • 2010

    Trevor H.J. Marchand, The Masons of Djenne (Indiana University Press)

  • 2009

    Sylvester Ogbechie, Ben Enwonwu: The Making of an African Modernist (University of Rochester Press)

  • 2008

    Linda M. Heywood and John K. Thornton, Central Africans, Atlantic Creoles, and the Foundation of the Americas, 1585-1660 (Cambridge University Press)

  • 2008

    Parker Shipton, The Nature of Entrustment, Intimacy, Exchange, and the Sacred in Africa (New Haven: Yale University Press)

  • 2007

    Barbara Cooper, Evangelical Christians in the Muslim Sahel (Indiana University Press)

  • 2006

    Matory Lorand, Black Atlantic Religion: Tradition, Transnationalism, and Matriarchy in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé (Princeton University Press)

  • 2005

    Adam Ashforth, Witchcraft, Violence and Democracy in South Africa (University of Chicago Press)

  • 2005

    Jan Vansina, How Societies Are Born: Governance in West Central Africa Before 1600, (University of Virginia Press)

  • 2004

    Allen F. Roberts and Mary Nooter Roberts, A SAINT in the CITY: Sufi Art in Urban Senegal (University of California Los Angeles)

  • 2003

    Joseph Inikori, Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England: A Study in International Trade and Economic Development (Cambridge University Press)

  • 2002

    Judith Carney, Black Rice (Harvard University Press)

  • 2002

    Diana Wylie, Starving on a Full Stomach: Hunger and the Triumph of Cultural Racism in Modern South Africa (University Press of Virginia)

  • 2001

    Karin Barber, Generation of Plays (Indiana University Press)

  • 2001

    John Peel, Religious Encounter & the Making of Yoruba (Indiana University Press)

  • 2000

    Nancy Rose Hunt, A Colonial Lexicon: Of Birth Ritual, Medicalization, and Mobility in the Congo (Duke University Press)

  • 1999

    Peter Uvin, Aiding Violence: The Development Enterprise in Rwanda (Kumarian Press)

  • 1998

    Susan Mullin Vogel, Baule: African Art Western Eyes (Yale University Press)

  • 1997

    Mahmood Mamdani, Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton University Press)

  • 1996

    Jonathon Glassman, Feasts and Riot: Revelry, Rebellion, and Popular Consciousness on the Swahili Coast, 1856-1888 (Heinemann)

  • 1995

    Henrietta L. Moore and Megan Vaughn, Cutting Down Trees: Gender, Nutrition, and Agricultural Change in the Northern Province of Zambia, 1890-1990 (Heinemann, James Curry, University of Zambia)

  • 1994

    Keletso E. Atkins, The Moon is Dead! Give Us Our Money! The Cultural Origins of an African Work Ethic, Natal, South Africa, 1843-1900 (Heinemann)

  • 1993

    Kwame Anthony Appiah, In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (Oxford University Press)

  • 1992

    Myron Echenberg, Colonial Conscripts: The Tirailleurs Senegalais in French West Afrca, 1857-1960 (Heinemann Educational Books)

  • 1991

    Johannes Fabian, Power and Performance: Ethnographic Explorations through Proverbial Wisdom and Theater in Shaba, Zaire (University of Wisconsin Press)

  • 1991

    Luise White, The Comforts of Home: Prostitution in Colonial Nairobi (University of Chicago Press)

  • 1990

    Edwin Wilmsen, Land Filled with Flies: A Political Economy of the Kalahari (University of Chicago Press)

  • 1989

    Joseph C. Miller, Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730 -1830 (University of Wisconsin Press)

  • 1989

    V.Y. Mudimbe, The Invention of Africa: Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge (Indiana University Press)

  • 1988

    John Iliffe, The African Poor: A History (Cambridge University Press)

  • 1987

    Paul M. Lubeck, Islam and Urban Labor in Northern Nigeria: The Making of a Muslim Working Class (Cambridge University Press)

  • 1987

    T.O. Beidelman, Moral Imagination in Kaguru Modes of Thought (Indiana University Press)

  • 1986

    Sara Berry, Fathers Work for Their Sons: Accumulation, Mobility, and Class Formation in an Extended Yoruba Community (University of California Press)

  • 1985

    Claire Robertson, Sharing the Same Bowl (Indiana University Press)

  • 1984

    Paulin Hontoundji, African Philosophy (Indiana University Press)

  • 1983

    James W. Fernandez, Bwiti: An Ethnography of the Religious Imagination in Africa (Princeton University Press)

  • 1982

    Frederick Cooper, From Slaves to Squatters: Plantation Labor and Agriculture in Zanzibar and Coastal Kenya, 1890-1925 (Yale University Press)

  • 1982

    Sylvia Scribner and Michael Cole, The Psychology of Literacy (Harvard University Press)

  • 1981

    Gavin Kitching, Class and Economic Change in Kenya: The Making of an African Petite Bourgeoisie, 1905-1970 (Yale University Press)

  • 1981

    Gwyn Prins, The Hidden Hippopotamus: Reappraisal in African History: The Early Colonial Experience in Western Zambia (Cambridge University Press)

  • 1980

    Richard B. Lee, The !Kung San (Cambridge University Press)

  • 1980

    Margaret Strobel, Muslim Women in Mombasa, 1890-1975 (Yale University Press)

  • 1979

    Hoyt Alverson, Mind in the Heart of Darkness: Value and Self-Identity Among the Tswana of Southern Africa (Yale University Press)

  • 1978

    William Y. Adams, Nubia: Corridor to Africa (Princeton University Press)

  • 1977

    M. Crawford Young, The Politics of Cultural Pluralism (University of Wisconsin Press)

  • 1976

    Ivor Wilks, Asante in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge University Press)

  • 1975

    Lansine Kaba, Wahhabiyya: Islamic Reform and Politics in French West Africa (Northwestern University Press)

  • 1975

    Elliott Skinner, African Urban Life (Princeton University Press)

  • 1974

    John N. Paden, Religion and Political Culture in Kano (University of California Press)

  • 1973

    Allen F. Isaacman, Mozambique The Africanization of a European Institution: The Zambezi Prazos, 1750-1902 (University of Wisconsin Press)

  • 1972

    Francis Deng, Tradition and Modernization (Yale University Press)

  • 1971

    René Lemarchand, Rwanda and Burundi (Praeger Publishers)

  • 1970

    Stanlake Samkange, Origins of Rhodesia (Praeger Publishers)

  • 1969

    Paul and Laura Bohannan, Tiv Economy (Northwestern University Press)

  • 1968

    Herbert Weiss, Political Protest in the Congo (Princeton University Press)

  • 1967

    Jan Vansina, Kingdoms of the Savanna (University of Wisconsin Press)

  • 1966

    Leo Kuper, An African Bourgeoisie (Yale University Press)

  • 1965

    Ruth Schachter Morganthau, Political Parties in French-Speaking West Africa (Oxford University Press)