The American Studies Association—the oldest and largest scholarly association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of U.S. cultures and histories—is proud to recognize the distinguished scholarly achievement and service to the field represented by the recipients of our prizes and awards for 2023. These awards provide a snapshot of the vital scholarly work that ASA members are carrying on in the United States and transnationally. We thank the jurors, nominees, nominators, mentors, presses, officers, and staff for making the 2023 awards possible.
We invite all members of the Association to join in congratulating their fellow members by going to the ASA's social media pages to like, share, and comment on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Please join us in honoring the recipients in person at the ASA Awards Ceremony on Thursday, November 2, 2023, at 7:00 pm in room Salle de Bal West at Le Centre Sheraton in Montreal during our Annual Meeting. Read more about the 2023 ASA Annual Meeting with link to register here.
Announcements for additional awards currently under review will be forthcoming. For further information about the ASA Awards Program, please click here. For membership information or to make a contribution to sustain the awards, please click here.
Please note: prizes awarded by ASA caucuses and committees are not included in this list.
THE 2023 JOHN HOPE FRANKLIN PRIZE
For the best book in American Studies published during 2022
Winner: Neferti X. M. Tadiar’s Remaindered Life is a stunning book, one that reinvigorates Marxist, feminist, and globalization theories for our heady and crisis-driven times. Tadiar cogently analyzes a catastrophic capitalism that thrives off of imperial wars of acquisition and extraction; off of the continuous production of disposable laborers and the discursive reduction of these laborers to living waste, to a failed humanity unworthy of consideration for anything more than exploitation and dispossession. Rather than reduce the complex lives of on these essential yet disposable workers to mere tragic survival, Tadiar’s offers a reader a close look at the vibrant lives they fashion beyond humanist discourses of worth. As Tadiar puts it, hers “is a tale told not about but rather from the side of remaindered life.” Remaindered Life is indeed the result of Tadair’s life spent accompanying migrants and refugees of climate change and war; domestic and service workers; criminalized urban populations and displaced Indigenous communities as they all collectively and continuously forge a low-intensity battle for decolonization and for the right to live lives outside of a European model of what it means to be human. Tadair has written an extraordinary book that combines economic and political theory with ethnographic writing and cultural analysis. Remaindered Life is as deeply hopeful for the future as it is damning of the present, and anyone who hopes to understand our collective futurity must read this book.
Honorable Mention: Elizabeth R. Anker’s Ugly Freedoms is must read for all of those who wish to understand how the United States’ pursuit of freedom at home and abroad has consistently produces its opposite: torture, slavery, dispossession, and white supremacy. A true rhetorician, Anker analysis of the historical production of freedom as an exclusionary concept, as dependent on the unfreedom of others. From the Declaration of Independence entwinement with slavery through a present-day consumptive capitalism that presages a global environmental destruction, Anker examines the ugly side of freedoms forged in the interest of the individual rights bearing subject.
Honorable Mention: Felicity Amaya Schaeffer’s beautifully written Unsettled Borders: The Militarized Science of Surveillance on Sacred Indigenous Land weaves together Latinx feminism and border studies, Native studies and science and technology studies to examine militarized surveillance technologies over a broad historical scope. It centralizes Apache, Tohono O’odham, and Yucatec Maya worldviews and organizing against the settler state’s obsession with policing borders and attempts to control and dominate the landscape, non-human natures, and the movement of peoples across space and time.
Honorable Mention: Jovan Scott Lewis’ Violent Utopia: Dispossession and Black Restoration in Tulsa explores the relationships between violence and Black freedom in the US through a close look at Tulsa, Oklahoma. Drawing on archival work and ethnographic fieldwork, this essential study explores complex relationships between space and time for Black Tulsans (and relations with Native peoples) in particular, and Blackness in the US, through themes of violence, inheritance, restoration, repair, and territory.
THE 2023 LORA ROMERO FIRST BOOK PUBLICATION PRIZE
For the best first book in American Studies published during 2022
- Winner: Christine Taitano Delisle, Placental Politics: CHamoru Women, White Womanhood, and Indigeneity under U.S. Colonialism in Guam (The University of North Carolina Press).
- Honorable Mention: Hi'ilei Julia Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart, Cooling the Tropics: Ice, Indigeneity, and Hawaiian Refreshment (Duke University Press)
- Honorable Mention: Christina Heatherton, Arise! Global Radicalism in the Era of the Mexican Revolution (University of California Press)
- Honorable Mention: Kelli Moore, Legal Spectatorship: Slavery and the Visual Culture of Domestic Violence (Duke University Press)
THE 2023 RALPH HENRY GABRIEL DISSERTATION PRIZE
Awarded annually for the best dissertation in American Studies
- Winner: Bobby Cervantes, “ʻLas Colonias,” American Studies, University of Kansas
- Honorable Mention: Athia N. Choudhury, “Gut Cultures,” American Studies, University of Southern California
- Honorable Mention: Justin Linds, “Noxious Rot,” American Studies, New York University
THE 2023 CARL BODE-NORMAN HOLMES PEARSON PRIZE
For lifetime achievement and outstanding contribution to American Studies
This year’s nominations for the Bode-Pearson Award for Lifetime Achievement were impressive, indicative not only of the vast and wide-ranging productivity of the nominees, but of the weight and power of the Association, together with the commitment of its members to carry out the mission of American Studies.
The 2023 winner of the Bode Pearson Award goes to Professor Shelley Fisher Fishkin for an astonishing record of four decades of serious scholarly research and service in American Studies, and most especially for introducing and defining the notion of a “transnational turn.” On top of the forty-eight books she has authored or edited and the more than one hundred fifty articles and essays she has published, she co-founded the Journal of Transnational American Studies. She reframed and re-defined Mark Twain Studies, modeling what it means to “unsettle American literature” and establishing herself as the world’s foremost Twain scholar. Professor Fishkin’s consistent engagement with international and global themes in American Studies manifested in a multi-year collaborative effort to recover the lost histories of the Chinese laborers who built the railroads of North America.
Over a stellar career, Professor Fishkin has forged her unbelievable stamina with a drive to leverage resources and create institutional relationships. She has pursued a vision but it is much more than that: she has grasped the possibilities of various historical moments, turning hopeful possibilities into beneficial realities that extend far beyond her immediate circles of influence.
Professor Fishkin has served as ASA President along with serving on the Nominating, Program, Finance, and Executive Committees over a period of fifteen years. The prize for International Scholarship in Transnational American Studies is named after her. Professor Fishkin’s remarkable and long-lasting presence in this Association is made complete by this award.
THE 2023 ANGELA Y. DAVIS PRIZE
For outstanding public scholarship
Professor Cathy Cohen
Professor Cathy Cohen’s career exemplifies the ethos of the Angela Davis’ Prize’s. As a scholar, institution builder, mentor, and activist, Professor Cohen “has worked to educate the public and address inequalities in imaginative, practical and applicable forms.” As detailed in many of the letters of support, Cohen’s groundbreaking scholarship including, "Punks, Bull Daggers, and Welfare Queens: The Real Radical Potential of 'Queer' Politics,” “Deviance as Resistance: A New Research Agenda for the Study of Black Politics,” and the awarding winning book The Boundaries of Blackness: AIDS and the Breakdown of Black Politics, urges us to be more attuned to the operation of power, to think critically about the possibilities and perils of identity politics, and to take seriously the imaginative acts of resistance that emerge from those pushed to the margins. As the nomination letter makes clear, Cohen’s generative and insightful scholarship, “emerges from and alongside her work to create the concrete conditions for the formation of new political constituencies” both in and beyond the university.
This commitment to scholarship infused by activism has remained a consistent practice throughout Cohen’s career. During her time as an Assistant Professor, Cohen helped to establish key institutional and collective spaces for LGBTQ activists and scholars of color. She was a core organizer of the historic 1995 Black Nations/Queer Nations conference at CUNY, served on the Board of the transformative Kitchen Table Press, and was a member of the steering committee that founded and later served as a founding Board Co-Chair of the Audre Lorde Project (ALP), the country's first LGBTQ of color organizing center. More recently, she founded the Black Youth Project (BYP), a data-based research project. Through BYP Cohen helped to coordinate institutional support and mentorship for the founding of BYP100, a member-based youth organization fighting against the carceral state and anti-blackness. She has also contributed considerable labor to carving out space for collective intellectual projects and social justice work within the university. At the University of Chicago, she has served several stints as Director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture, chaired the Department of Political Science, and is currently serving as chair of the newly formed Department of Race, Diaspora, and Indigeneity (RDI). As the authors of the nominating letter note, Cohen’s “leadership within and beyond the university is marked by a collective ethos that aims to empower new voices, develop the capacities of those around her, and pursue the collective will…”. The impact and reach of Professor Cohen’s contributions shines through the numerous scholar-activists and American Studies members she has influenced, inspired, and/or mentored.
Professor Rabab Abdulhadi
As succinctly stated in one of the nominating letters Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, “exemplifies the values, principles, and practice of public scholarship and activism as delineated in the award’s description.” Professor Abdulhadi is the founding Director of and Senior Scholar in Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas (AMED) Studies and Professor of Ethnic Studies and at San Francisco State University. She also served as the Director of the Center for Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan. In these positions she has built a career as an influential scholar, most notably of the Palestinian liberation struggle and South West Asia & North Africa (SWANA). Her scholarship has always been attentive to the ways gender and sexuality, racism, imperialism, racial capitalism and settler colonial frame lived experiences and invested in highlighting the interconnectedness of struggles or what she conceptualizes as the “indivisibility of justice.” Abdulhadi’s publications include her generative writings on Arab anti-colonial Feminism such as the much cited article, “The Palestinian Women’s Autonomous Movement: Emergence, Dynamics & Challenges” and the edited collection Arab & Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence and Belonging as well as articles that think through solidarity, resistance and struggle such as “Framing Resistance: Reading Assata Shakur’s Black Revolutionary Radicalism in Palestine” and the book chapter “Palestinian Resistance and the Indivisibility of Justice.” Her work on Palestinian historiography, as seen in “Which Archival Sources? Palestine, Revolution, and Counterhegemonic Sources,” as well as her critical analysis of Zionism, as seen in Israeli Settler Colonialism in Context: Celebrating (Palestinian) Death and Normalizing Gender and Sexual Violence” that is as timely today as it has been when she wrote it in 2014, reflect her contributions to the field of Palestine studies, settlercolonial studies and gender and sexual justice. As one letter writer makes clear, Abdulhadi has also made significant, “contribution to the inter/multi/trans-discipline of American Studies with essays” such as “Contesting the Foreign/Domestic Divide: Arab Revolutions and American Studies” and “Shifting Geographies of Knowledge and Power: Palestine and American Studies,” published in a special issue of American Quarterly on Palestine that she co-edited alongside a forum of the same title.
The collaborative impulse which infuses Professor Abdulhadi’s scholarship, also grounds much of her institutional, political, and pedagogical praxis. This is clear in her institutional work in building the AMED Studies program within the College of Ethnic Studies at SFSU and her expansive and tireless work teaching and creating local, national and global networks in support of the Palestinian struggle. She recently co-founded the Institute for the Critical Study of Zionism, as well as the Palestine, Arab and Muslim Caucus of the California Faculty Association. As part of her work, Abdulhadi has organized and led numerous delegations to Palestine including a 2011 Indigenous and Women of Color Feminist Delegation and a 2016 US Prisoner, Labor and Academic Delegation organized in collaboration with Critical Resistance and other organizations. In 2018, she co-organized the first of six Teaching Palestine: Pedagogical Praxis and the Indivisibility of Justice delegations. She also created the “Teaching Palestine Open Classroom Series,” a free interactive online curriculum co-sponsored by a range of community organizations. Perhaps most impressive is that Abdulhadi has sustained this committed praxis while being the target of an intense campaign to discredit and silence her scholarship and activism on Palestine. As her nomination letters attest, Professor Abdulhadi’s enduring commitment to continue her scholarship and activism in the face of such pressure, “reminds us every day of the agency and power we have even when the odds seem overwhelming or impossible.” It is a reminder that is particularly useful in this current moment.
THE CONSTANCE M. ROURKE AWARD
For the best article published in American Quarterly in the previous year
This year’s Constance M. Rourke Prize, awarded annually to the best article published in American Quarterly, goes to Shoniqua Roach for her article, “The Black Living Room,” which appeared in the September 2022 issue of the journal. Building on the example of the living room of her mother Letisha in the Barrio Logan neighborhood of San Diego in the early 2000s, Roach offers the Black living room as a critical site of lush quotidian inquiry. The article is a provocation in the best way for the field to consider the materiality and erotics of intimate spaces where necessary intellectual and political work happens.
“The Black Living Room” gives us a capacious and creative accounting that slides across imperial, state, temporal and domestic scales, nesting in a complex recital of Black feminist methodologies of being with and contextualizing closely felt spaces. Roach investigates sumptuous and adorned choreographies of habitation, visualization and decoration. These interrupt and dwell within and beyond the longue durée imperial cartographies of militarized and punitive state power in California in slavery’s long transcontinental and transnational wake, and call for a rethinking of those cartographies’ provenance, their impact and their engagement with Black self-making.
More broadly, Roach’s piece asks questions about how we encounter knowledge and where it gets situated, questions this prize committee hopes the field will continue to ask when we are all searching for bridges from inside to outside. We are thrilled to present this award to Prof. Roach.
2023 GENE WISE-WARREN SUSMAN PRIZE
Recognizes the best paper presented by a graduate student at the ASA Annual Meeting
- Winner: Rachel Leah Klein (USC American Studies and Ethnicity) “Double Violence and Insurgent Kinship: Women’s Prison Care Networks and Gendered Politics of Solidarity in California”
- Finalist: kristen iemma (Brown University, American Studies) “Records in Motion: Archival Dispossession and U.S. Imperialism at the Turn of the Twentieth Century”
- Finalist: Rebecca Lentjes (University of Kentucky and New York Abortion Access Fund, case manager) “Solidarity in Vulnerability: Abortion Funds and Everyday Modes of Resistance”
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