IBP 2011

ICAS Book Prize 2011 Citations of prize winning books and best PhDs

IBP 2011
The ICAS Book Prize now in its fourth edition saw a steep rise in the number of books submitted. We received no less than 200 books from 45 publishers in the field of Asian studies. The IBP 2011 Reading Committee consisted of Anand Yang (Chair) and Manuela Ciotti, Derek Heng, Alex McKay and Khun Eng Kuah-Pearce.

IBP 2011 Social Sciences winner

Uradyn E. Bulag, Collaborative Nationalism. The Politics of Friendship on China’s Mongolian Frontier (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010)

The history of Inner Asia has been shaped by the tripartite interaction of China, Tibet, and Mongolia, and in the light of modern Chinese state policies towards its “minority groups” Collaborative Nationalism is concerned with ‘reconsidering the question of the political in ethnopolitics.’ China’s nationalising project is aimed at a collaborative nationalism, and this work is essentially an examination of the politics of friendship. Central to this are the competing visions of Chinggis Khan, whose achievements have been contested and appropriated to serve the interests of different regions and ethnic groups. Bulag examines these issues in a stimulating, even impassioned exploration of the levels of friendship and association between ethnic groups, centralising Mongolia in Inner Asian history and advancing the concept of “collaborative nationalism” as a device through which to understand the actualities of inter-ethnic relationships. We are pleased to award the ICAS Book Prize 2011 to Uradyn Bulag for his highly original work, well grounded in both Asian and European sources, which will inspire students and specialists alike to rethink approaches to the region and to the analysis of national identities.

IBP 2011 Humanities winner

Stein Tønnesson, Vietnam 1946: How the War Began (University of California Press, 2009)

It is immediately apparent that Vietnam 1946: How the War Began is an important book. Tønnesson argues that this was not merely an ideological conflict, as has hitherto been regarded and understood, but one that was first and foremost the result of geo-political blunders and misreading by all parties involved during the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. Significantly, He argues that the conflict could have been prevented, and concludes by examining how each of the key figures involved might have acted to prevent war. One of the great strengths of Vietnam 1946 is that it is the product of several decades of research and reflection. It carries the authority of an author who has closely studied both the available sources and the individuals involved in the decision-making processes. We are pleased to award the IBP 2011 Humanities to Stein Tønnesson for his compelling narrative that ultimately recognises the limits of historical enquiry, for important records remain unavailable.

IBP 2011 Colleagues’ Choice winner

Alexander Huang, Chinese Shakespeares. Two Centuries of Cultural Exchange (Columbia University Press, 2009)

The Chinese appreciation of Beethoven is well known: of Shakespeare, less so. Chinese Shakespeares is an original and engaging study of the Chinese adoption of the English languages’s greatest playwright. This work may be enjoyed in its own right, but is also a study of both Chinese cultural engagement with the West and of cross-cultural communication in theatre and film. Shakespeare’s works largely escaped a colonial context in their early manifestations in China, and were often imbued with localised meanings that enabled their partial indigenisation. Shakespeare continues to be interpreted and reinterpreted in China for both local and global audiences and Huang’s study of its various manifestations and meanings, its translations and its performaces, will be the standard text in the field for years to come. We are pleased to award the IBP Colleagues’ Choice Award for a study which draws on a wide range of sources, and is a significant contribution to literary studies, cultural history, and studies of globalisation.

IBP 2011 Best PhDs

For this edition we received nearly 40 theses which represented a strong increase with the previous editions. The IBP Best PhD 2011 Reading Committee consisted of Birgit Abels and Iza Hussin.

IBP 2011 Best PHD Social Sciences

Imran Bin Tajudeen, Constituting and Reconstructing the Vernacular Heritage of Maritime Emporia in Nusantara: Historic Adaptation and Contemporary Accentuations (National University of Singapore thesis, 2009)

Constituting and Reconstructing the Vernacular Heritage of Maritime Emporia in Nusantara is a rich and nuanced study of urban architectural forms in the ports of Austronesian Southeast Asia. In particular, the port cities of Nusantara have been shaped by both the regional diaspora and intra-regional trading and shipping networks, making them a uniquely dynamic - and challenging - environment for study. Tajudeen's reading offers a number of useful interpretive interventions into the scholarship on native architecture, not only reading "artefacts as texts", but "texts on artefacts", incorporating the dimension of time both in terms of the "predicament of ruination" and in terms of the writing and transformation of history in heritage and preservation projects. Tajudeen's work offers a new reading of the Asian urban built environment as a vernacular practice, continually being interpreted and reconstructed by local, state and regional actors, and therefore constantly in need of a creative and responsive scholarly approach. For its theoretical originality, its contributions of data from the field and its potential for advancing Asian studies scholarship, we are very pleased to award Imran bin Tajudeen the ICAS Best Thesis Prize in the Social Sciences.

IBP 2011 Best PHD Humanities

Carmen Pérez González, A Comparative Visual Analysis of Nineteenth-Century Iranian Portrait Photography and Persian Painting (Leiden University thesis, 2009)

A Comparative Visual Analysis of Nineteenth-Century Iranian Portrait Photography and Persian Painting presents a meticulous and well thought-out analysis of Iranian nineteenth-century visual representations of identity and their aesthetics. In doing so, she builds on a large and hitherto understudied, if not undiscovered body of photographs that were taken through the lenses of both Iranian and non-Iranian photographers. By cross-examining nineteenth-century Iranian portrait photography and the rich Iranian portrait painting tradition, González is able to pinpoint the subtleties that underlie the visual negotiation of a distinctly Iranian identity that is alert, in a critical way, to European influence. What makes her approach so valuable and fresh is González’s ability to unveil the processes of the creation of meaning through photographic art in nineteenth-century Iran. She does so by contextualizing portrait photography within its historical and cultural frameworks of reference. Such a project requires a full-fledged theoretical framework that is informed by several disciplines including Islamic art history, history of photography, post-colonial studies, and world art history that she has carefully crafted. We are pleased to award Carmen Peréz González the ICAS Best Thesis Prize in the humanities for this extra-ordinary piece of PhD work that will certainly have repercussions beyond world art and Iranian Studies.


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