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Distinguished Africanist Award

The African Studies Association offers a Distinguished Africanist Award in recognition of lifetime distinguished contributions to African studies. The Award is presented at the Annual Meeting Awards Ceremony, and consists of a plaque and a lifetime membership in the African Studies Association.


Any member of the Association is eligible to nominate a candidate. The nomination must include a vitae of the nominee, a detailed letter of nomination outlining how the nominee meets the criteria for the Award, and three similar letters from ASA members seconding the nomination. At least two of the latter must be affiliated with institutions other than that of the nominee. All nomination materials must be provided in English. The complete dossier of the candidate must be submitted on letterhead as a PDF emailed to secretariat@africanstudies.org. Criteria for the Award are the distinction of contribution to Africanist scholarship, as measured by a lifetime of accomplishment and service in the field of African studies. Contributions to scholarship within and without the academic community are considered.

The Distinguished Africanist Award Committee is composed of the Past President, the President, the Vice President, and two ASA members designated by the Executive Committee of the ASA Board of Directors. The non-Board members of the committee serve three-year terms. The recommendation of the Committee is presented to the Board of Directors at its Spring Meeting, and the final choice is made by the Board.

Dossiers of candidates not selected for the award are kept by the ASA Secretariat and circulated for five consecutive years to the committee. The Distinguished Africanist Award Committee has the option of keeping candidate files open indefinitely.

The ASA Distinguished Africanist Award was established in the 1980’s to recognize and honor scholars who have contributed a lifetime record of outstanding scholarship in their respective field of African studies and service to the Africanist community.

2023 Committee:

Ousseina Alidou

Past President

(Rutgers University), Chair

Adérónké Adésolá Adésànyà


(James Madison University)

Gretchen Bauer

Vice President

(University of Delaware)

Alice Kang

Non-Board Member

(University of Nebraska, Lincoln)

Ismail Rashid

Non-Board Member

(Vassar College)

Distinguished Africanist Award Winners

  • 2022

    Brenda Randolph

  • 2022

    Steve Howard

  • 2021

    Oyeronkẹ́ Oyěwumi

  • 2020

    Frederick Cooper

  • 2019

    Pearl T. Robinson

  • 2018

    E. Gyimah-Boadi

  • 2017

    Iris Berger

  • 2016

    Sara Berry

  • 2015

    Goran Hyden

  • 2014

    Boubakar Barry

  • 2013

    Allen Isaacman

  • 2012

    Jane Guyer

  • 2011

    Toyin Falola

  • 2010

    Terence Ranger

  • 2009

    David Robinson

  • 2008

    Edmond J. Keller

  • 2007

    John Middleton

  • 2006

    Bogumil Jewsiewicki

  • 2005

    John Hunwick

  • 2004

    Francis M. Deng

  • 2003

    Joseph E. Harris

  • 2002

    Peter Geschiere

  • 2001

    Bethwell Ogot

  • 2000

    J.H. Kwabena Nketia

  • 2000

    Bernth Lindfors

  • 1999

    Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch

  • 1998

    Ivor G. Wilks

  • 1997

    Akin Mabogunje

  • 1996

    Thandika Mkandawire

  • 1995

    Ali A. Mazrui

  • 1993

    J. Ade Ajayi

  • 1992

    Philip D. Curtin

  • 1991

    Howard Wolpe

  • 1990

    Crawford Young

  • 1989

    Roland Oliver

  • 1988

    Elizabeth Colson

  • 1987

    Joseph Greenberg

  • 1986

    Jan Vansina

  • 1985

    Elliott Skinner

  • 1984

    Gwendolen M. Carter