Winner of the IBP 2019 Social Sciences
Sareeta Amrute, Encoding Race, Encoding Class: Indian IT Workers in Berlin. Duke University Press, 2016.
Sareeta Amrute's rich ethnography skilfully decodes the entanglement of race and class that is embedded within global flows of labour and inflected onto bodies of Indian IT migrant workers in Berlin. Drawing on interviews, participant observation, and printed sources of data that tread across the private and public lives of these workers, her analysis adeptly exposes the contradiction between the inferior position of Indian IT workers within Germany's racial hierarchy and their highly-educated, middle-class economic status. Her exceptional work contributes to a wide range of scholarship by creating theoretical spaces for re-thinking complex processes of negotiation and resistance within neoliberal capitalism.
Shortlist IBP 2019 Social Sciences
Tariq Omar Ali, A Local History of Global Capital: Jute and Peasant Life in the Bengal Delta. Princeton University Press, 2018.
This book links a small place and a specific industry (jute trade), with the broader history of global capital. Ali traces how jute production and trade entangled the peasantry of the Bengal Delta into global networks of capital, and how it fundamentally shaped various aspects of daily life for these people across multiple domains, from religious beliefs and politics, to labour practices and social life. In a historical moment when we are ever more aware of the opportunities and deep inequalities wrought by global capital, this richly and carefully researched study of how global commodity markets imbricate local social structures is a timely and valuable contribution to social science scholarship.
Paul D. Barclay, Outcasts of Empire: Japan's Rule on Taiwan's ‘Savage Border’, 1874-1945. University of California Press, 2018.
Adopting a multi-scalar historical perspective, this book examines how the Japanese colonial state established and demarcated indigenous lands in Taiwan into a special administrative zone. Indigenisation, Barclay argues, is a key aspect of nation-building under imperialism, and co-constituted alongside nationality and internationalism. Even as economic and military strength enabled the Japanese state to do away with many indigenous mediators and brokers at its ‘savage border’, it was ultimately unable to successfully co-opt and effectively discipline indigenous people. Barclay’s book is original and valuable in how it further contends with the long-term political and economic consequences of this history as these categories of indigeneity still exist in Taiwan today.
Eugene Ford, Cold War Monks: Buddhism and America's Secret Strategy in Southeast Asia. Yale University Press, 2017.
Eugene Ford's exemplary historical study uncovers the uneasy yet opportune interplay between America's anti-communist strategy in Southeast Asia and Buddhism in Thailand. His captivating narrative aptly references U.S. and Thai archival sources, supplemented by oral history interviews of key informants. He convincingly argues that the alignment of U.S. anti-communist efforts with the region's predominant religion not only politicised Buddhism in Thailand but also had spill over effects onto American policies toward neighbouring countries during the Cold War.
Nhung Tuyet Tran, Familial Properties: Gender, State, and Society in Early Modern Vietnam, 1463–1778. University of Hawai`i Press, 2018.
Nhung Tuyet Tran's ground-breaking work interrogates gender norms and power negotiations in precolonial Vietnam, a period distinctively characterised by political factions and Confucian ethos that favoured men, such as state laws that codified patrilineal inheritance rights. Her fascinating analysis draws upon legal, literary, and religious sources written in multiple Asian and European languages. Tran argues that Vietnamese women were able to elevate their social status by filling the labour force vacuum left by men who were recruited for military service and soliciting the cooperation of male leaders to protect their accumulated monetary capital.