ICAS Book Prizes 2005


All scientific books published in 2003 and 2004 on topics pertaining to Asia were eligible. Three prizes were awarded:

1. best study (on Asia) in the field of the Humanities
2. best study (on Asia) in the field of Social Sciences.
3. best PhD study in the field of Asian Studies.

The prize money consisted of € 2500 for categories 1 and 2 whilst the best PhD study will be published.

The Reading Committee Report ICAS BOOK PRIZES 2005
Shanghai, 20 August 2005
Shanghai Exhibition Center

This is the first time the ICAS Book Prizes will be awarded. They were established with the aim to create by way of a global competition both an international focus for publications on Asia while at the same time increasing their visibility worldwide.
All scientific books published in 2003 and 2004 on topics pertaining to Asia were eligible. Three prizes will be awarded. Best study in the field of Social Sciences. Best study in the field of the humanities and best PhD study in the field of Asian Studies. The prize money consists of 2500 euro for categories 1 and 2 while the best PhD study will be published in the ICAS/Brill Series.
The reading Committee has in recent months reviewed 38 books (23 Humanities and 15 Social Sciences). In each category three books were nominated and two dissertations were. Before reading the report of the jury I, on behalf of the ICAS secretariat, wish to thank the members of the Reading Committee: The Chair Anand Yang President Elect of the Association for Asian Studies); David Hill professor at Murdoch University; Krishna Sen vice-president of the Association of Asian Studies of Australia; Dr Guita Winkel of Leiden University and Dr Mehdi Amineh, fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies and Dr Paul van der Velde, ICAS Secretary.


The best book in the social sciences is


The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenge to China's Future. (Ithaca NY: Cornell U Press: 2004).

The Chinese people have transformed their country from a developing nation into an economic powerhouse. Equally striking, however, has been the price that China's environment has paid for this transformation. Elizabeth C. Economy captures extraordinarily well the complex historical, systemic, political, economic, and international forces that are shaping China's environment. No other volume on this enormously important issue is as comprehensive, balanced, and incisive. The style is direct, factual, uncluttered by jargon and accessible to the non-specialist. The book concludes with scenarios for China’s future.
Elizabeth C. Economy has written a well-researched analysis of the environmental degradation that has occurred in China and its implications for the rest of the world.

The best book in the Humanities is


Gutenberg in Shanghai: Chinese Print Capitalism, 1876-1937. (Vancouver/ Toronto UBC Press 2003)

The work knits together cultural and technological histories, in a simultaneously readable and erudite text. It is based extensively on Chinese language documents and is a response to ‘western’ historiography of print technology and its ‘consequences’ in late 19th and early twentieth century China. Reed describes the existing print culture of China, prior to the arrival of Guttenberg’s moving letter press machine and shows how the new technologies had to be embedded into an existing print culture and technology with its own pre-existing norms. He also shows that the print-led socio-economic transformations were equally in the hands of the machinists, who moved the locus of Chinese publishing from Canton and Hong Kong to Shanghai within the space of about a generation and a half. It is a wonderfully detailed history of the press. It will appeal to a wide range of scholars of China and theorists of culture and technology.

The best book dissertation is


Community participation of Mainland Chinese migrants in Hong Kong – rethinking agency, institutions and authority in social capital theory. University of Sheffield, 2004.

Based on fieldwork conducted in 2001-2 among poor, newly arrived mainland Chinese immigrants to Hong Kong, Wong reviews the concept of social capital to question common assumptions underlying policy prescriptions in pro-social capital programs. His well-written thesis is an original contribution that aims not so much to cast ‘social capital’ away as a theoretical concept as to soften its rigid use in current development strategies. His study is of wider impact than for Hong Kong immigrants alone and calls for a reconsideration of conventional understandings of development programs.

For more information, please contact the ICAS Secretariat.
Dr Paul van der Velde
Secretary Reading Committee ICAS Book Prizes 2005

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