November 11, 2020
Press Contact: John F. Stephens,

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The American Studies Association is proud to recognize the continuing high level of scholarship examining our American cultures. We invite all members of the Association to join in congratulating their fellow members now to be honored again in person at the 2021 award ceremony at our annual meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Chair: Magdalena Zaborowska, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Neda Atanasoski, University of California, Santa Cruz
Simeon Man, University of California, San Diego

The Constance Rourke Prize has been awarded annually since 1987 for the best article published in American Quarterly. The winner of this year’s prize is IVÁN CHAAR-LÓPEZ, "Sensing Intruders: Race and the Automation of Border Control," Volume 71, Number 2, June 2019: pp. 495-518.  The Committee has unanimously found "Sensing Intruders" to be an exemplar of American Studies scholarship in its rigorous approach to a topic that is both timely, speaking to the current militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, and rooted in nuanced historical and cultural inquiry, regarding our unique national moment of  danger. We have been especially impressed with its diligent and thorough scholarship, creative applications of interdisciplinarity, and careful attention to deep contexts of science and technology between the mid-twentieth century and the present. The essay skilfully deploys technological history as part of the U.S. imperial story and explains how technologies developed for and through imperial warfare were redeployed for purposes of securitization and policing of national borders.

The committee also selected two finalists (honorable mentions). JOSEPH DARDA, "Like a Refugee: Veterans, Vietnam, and the Making of a False Equivalence." Volume 71, Number 1, March 2019: pp. 83-104.  This essay, noted the committee, was especially impressive in combining rigorous literary scholarship – nuanced close readings of the Vietnam War novel – with social science and public health research on PTSD, and in its critique of how all these discourses created a gendered and racialized veteran-as-refugee white male figure that eclipsed the actual Southeast Asian refugees fleeing imperialist U.S. wars.  NIC JOHN RAMOS, “Poor Influences and Criminal Locations: Los Angeles' Skid Row, Multicultural Identities, and Normal Sexuality" Volume 71, Number 2, June 2019, pp. 541-567.  This essay, noted the committee, stood out for its rigorous interdisciplinary scholarly engagement with the locality of the skid row, and with the history and practices of American urban planning as embroiled with mechanisms of control over bodies and livelihoods of city dwellers. 

Chair: Koritha Mitchell, Ohio State University
Lindsay Reckson, Haverford College

Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, Northwestern University

The Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize, established in 1974, has been awarded annually since 1987 by the Association for the best dissertation in American Studies.  The committee is pleased to recognize CAMILLE OWENS, "Blackness and the Human Child: Race, Prodigy, and the Logic of American Childhood," Yale University. The committee declares, "Owens's work is nothing less than a radical retelling of the humanist project. With extraordinary scholarly care, Dr. Owens reads Black child prodigies against the grain of their instrumentalization and thereby restores their unexceptional yet nevertheless singular and insurgent force."

Chair: Maria E. Cotera, University of Texas, Austin

Sarah Haley, University of California, Los Angeles
LaMonda Horton-Stallings, Georgetown University

The Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize was established in 2002 and is awarded annually for the best-published first book in American Studies that highlights the intersections of race with gender, class, sexuality and/or nation. 

The selection committee for the Lora Romero First Book Prize for the ASA is delighted to recognize TIFFANY LETHABO KING's, The Black Shoals: Offshore Formations of Black and Native Studies (Duke University Press, 2019) as the best first book published in American studies that highlights intersectional dynamics in the study of race, gender, class, sexuality, and/or nation in 2020. The Black Shoals is a beautifully-written and provocatively-argued critique of normative frames for theorizing conquest, colonization, genocide and anti-Black racism. Placing hemispheric traditions in Black Studies in conversation with Indigenous Studies, Lethabo-King mobilizes “the black shoals” as a capacious metaphor, an analytic, and a methodology, to explore a new conceptual territory in the indeterminate and ever shifting space between land and water, the conceptual frames through which Black and Indigenous studies have typically been imagined. King’s methodology offers not only sophisticated and compelling analyses of a wide array of imaginative and historical objects such as maps, film, history, and sculpture from the 18th century to 21st century, but also a ceremony to counter anti-blackness/genocide and conjure reimagined ethics and erotics between Black and Indigenous people. In this way, The Black Shoals opens up an alternative site of ethical engagement for Black and Indigenous Studies. Pushing beyond the conceptual limits of what Lethabo-King calls "conquistador humanism," the black shoals offer a new landscape for theorizing the enmeshment of Black and Indigenous experiences of conquest.

The committee also named three finalists (honorable mentions) for the prize.

MARISOL LEBRÓN'S, Policing Life and Death: Race, Violence, and Resistance in Puerto Rico (University of California Press, 2019) is a riveting account of the rise of repressive policing as a form of colonial governance in Puerto Rico. In her careful and always engaging analysis, Lebrón exposes the ways in which punitive governance shapes everyday life in Puerto Rico, attempting to manage the proliferating economic, social and political crises that are the product of neoliberal colonialism. More importantly, she demonstrates how everyday Puerto Ricans, from residents in public housing complexes, to students, to reggaetoneros, respond to this punitive regime of colonial management in their collective action and expressive culture.

Turning an eye toward material and expressive culture, and their importance to intervening in public space as understood and regulated by settler colonialism, JENNY TONE-PAH-HOTE'S Crafting an Indigenous Nation: Kiowa Expressive Culture in the Progressive Era (University of North Carolina Press, 2019) has provided an engaging and original interdisciplinary study of artisans and identity in intertribal societies throughout the U.S. Tone-Pah-Hote utilizes women of color feminist theories related to folk and vernacular practices to demonstrate how gender is transformed and tribal identity sustained in opposition to the changing same of colonialism.  From her assessment of peyotism as intertribal critique of and intervention against religious decimation to her understanding of the silver trade network as important to material and spiritual practices of Native American Church, Tone-Pah-Hote demonstrates how the expressive culture of Kiowa women and men ensured the survival of culture across generations during the Progressive Era.

Known and unknown, the political and intellectual worlds of people imprisoned in late 20th century women’s prisons is brilliantly excavated in EMILY THUMA'S, All Our Trials: All Our Trials: Prisons, Policing, and the Feminist Fight to End Violence (University of Illinois Press, 2019). This groundbreaking model of interdisciplinary grassroots history is powered by those held captive and represents an innovative genealogy of Black, Women of Color, and Queer feminism animated by what Emily Thuma terms anticarceral feminism. In the era of Marissa Alexander and Breonna Taylor, this impeccably-researched work is a timely and transformative contribution to historiographies of gender, race, sexuality, violence, and feminist social movements and is a major accomplishment in abolition and carceral studies.

Chair: Alexandra T. Vazquez, New York University
Shana Redmond, University of California, Los Angeles

Sarita See, University of California, Riverside

The John Hope Franklin Publication Prize is distributed yearly and honors the most outstanding book published in American studies for the year preceding the annual meeting.  The Committee is thrilled to present the award to SAIDIYA HARTMAN, University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, for her book Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval  (W.W. Norton & Company). This extraordinary book is a lively, experimental, and deeply felt testament to the lives and thought of black women, their everyday and formal performances to audiences and in archives, and their foundational and intricate contributions to American thought and aesthetics. Hartman’s interventions are at once historical, aesthetic, and archival, and while they are particularly striking in this book, they resound her important legacy of scholarship that has inspired and will continue to vitalize readers, writers, and scholars in American Studies in the most capacious sense of the field.  Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments is not only an exemplary model of American Studies scholarship, but one that issues a challenge to all of us in the field and opens up so many vivifying pathways for future scholars. 

The Committee has also named two finalists for the prize: HAZEL CARBY'S book Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands (Verso) is a magisterial work, profoundly moving and challenging.  With her beautiful, unrelenting prose, Prof. Carby makes dynamic counterpoint of memoir and critiques of imperialism. Far from the first time, the field of American Studies has so much to learn from Prof. Carby’s innovative interventions for the field of American Studies.  CHRISTOPHER PEXA'S bookTranslated Nation: Rewriting the Dakhóta Oyáte (Minnesota) is a vitalizing and inspiring work, gorgeously rendered in polyvocal, polymathic prose. Prof. Pexa has enlivened the archives both intimate and public and has given us an incredible gift to think together about the robust past, present, and futurity of American Studies. These interventions will do so much for the dynamic constituencies—both nascent and veteran scholars—who gather under the sign of American Studies.


Chair:  Jodi Melamed, Marquette University
Kara Keeling, University of Chicago
A. Naomi Paik, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The Angela Y. Davis Award for Public Scholarship recognizes scholars who have applied or used their scholarship for the “public good.” This includes work that explicitly aims to educate the lay public, influence policies, or in other ways seeks to address inequalities in imaginative, practical, and applicable forms.

MICHELLE DANIEL (JONES), the 2020 prize winner, is an interdisciplinary scholar activist, NYU doctoral candidate, writer, and artist excavating the collateral consequences of criminal convictions for people and families directly impacted by mass incarceration, in addition to participating in a scholarly project challenging the narratives of the history of women’s prison with a group of incarcerated scholars. 

As one of her fellow students states, "A day doesn’t go by that I haven’t learned something new from her. ... Not only through her ability to do so formally, but also through the living example present in whatever task she undertakes. ... I have never known another person who can create something magnificent out of seemingly nothing the way she can and does."

Finalist mention goes to MAYLEI BLACKWELL, an interdisciplinary scholar activist and oral historian, studies women of color feminism in the U.S. and accompanied Indigenous women organizers in Mexico, as well as feminist movements and sexual rights activists throughout Latin America. She is an Associate Professor in the César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o Studies and Women’s Studies Department, and affiliated faculty in the American Indian Studies and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies, at UCLA.

As her nominators note, Dr. Blackwell's engaged scholarship and teaching "make us all accountable to listening to our most isolated communities and to reminding ourselves that radical knowledge production often isn’t in the published texts we read or the writing we strive to do but that often it lives right next door,waiting for us to stop, listen, and learn."

Chair: Sandra Soto, University of Arizona

Kathryn Bond Stockton, University of Utah
Robert Warrior, University of Kansas

The Carl Bode-Norman Holmes Pearson Prize recognizes the outstanding achievement of an individual who has dedicated a lifetime of work to the mission and values of American studies. The 2020 prize winner is AVERY F. GORDON.

AVERY F. GORDON was a Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara for thirty years and is currently a Visiting Professor at Birkbeck School of Law University of London. She is the author of The Hawthorn Archive: Letters from the Utopian Margins (2018), The Workhouse: The Breitenau Room (with Ines Schaber) (2015), Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination (1997/2008), Keeping Good Time: Reflections on Knowledge, Power and People (2004), and Mapping Multiculturalism (1997), among other books and articles. Her work focuses on radical thought and practice and she writes about captivity, enslavement, war and other forms of dispossession and how to eliminate them. She serves on the Editorial Committee of the journal Race & Class and has been the co-host of No Alibis, a weekly public affairs radio program on KCSB FM Santa Barbara since 1997. She is the former keeper of the Hawthorn Archive.

As her nominators note, Professor Gordon’s reputation as a brilliant, visionary, and provocative theorist reflects work that is intellectually, politically, and geographically far-reaching. Her scholarship is known for its innovation and its erudition, its full-bodied commitment to thinking social transformation differently. Masterful in both breadth and depth, Professor Gordon’s writing has changed for generations of scholars not only what we do but how we do it. Interdisciplinary to its core and transnational in scope, her sole- authored and collaborative projects cross theoretical and national borders with fluency and frequency.  This transnational orientation has also manifested in her active mentorship of scholars around the world. Professor Gordon’s deeply principled commitment extends beyond her own students to include others who cross her path, especially junior faculty of color,  She has also been central to giving support to younger scholars marginalised on the basis of the progressive or even radical content of their work

She has served on the American Studies Association National Council (2011-2014), the Women’s Committee (2008-2011), and the Program Committee (2006, 2010, 2018). Additionally, she has held numerous editorial board positions for academic presses (e.g. Duke University Press’s Errantries and Social Studies Across the Border series, Routledge’s Social Justice series, and Westview Press’s Politics and Culture series) and almost a dozen more for journals central to advancing the work of American Studies around the world, including American Quarterly and Race & Class. In each of these roles, she channels the utopian impulses she has theorized; her service goes beyond the confines of the profession toward using her position to advance liberatory agendas that implicate and inevitably exceed those institutions.



These committee prizes will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


The ASA’s Committee on Gender and Sexuality Studies awards the Gloria E. Anzaldúa Prize to an independent scholar and/or contingent or community college faculty member who demonstrates an affinity with Anzaldúa’s oeuvre, vision, or political commitments and who addresses connections among some or all of the following categories:  race, ethnicity, citizenship, class, gender, sexuality, and dis/ability. 

The 2020 prizewinner is YNDIA S. LORICK-WILMOT, PhD, Senior Lecturer of Sociology at Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies, USA, and a social research consultant for nonprofits and philanthropies across the US, Canada, and the Caribbean.


The ASA Minority Scholars Committee awards the Richard A. Yarborough Mentoring Award to honor a scholar who, like Richard Yarborough, demonstrates dedication to and excellence in mentoring underrepresented faculty, postdoctoral fellows, and/or college, university or high school students.

The 2020 prize will be awarded to FRANCES R. APARICIO, Professor Emerita of Spanish and Portuguese and Director of the Latina and Latino Studies Program at Northwestern University.
In a letter signed by 28 undergraduate students, they wrote: "There is no one more deserving of the Richard A. Yarborough Award than Frances Aparicio. She has dedicated herself to her students, the Laino/Latina Studies Program, and beyond. She has been genuine, she has been effective, and she has been a caring face that you know you can talk to and rely on." Mérida Rúa, Mari Castañeda, Lorena Garcia, Marisol Negrón, Ramon Rivera-Servera, and Wilson Valentìn-Escobar wrote in great detail in the cover letter for the nomination package about Dr. Aparicio's dedication to mentorship in her roles as a teacher, scholar, program leader, and administrator. Her mentorship of women of color, program-building that bridges multiple communities within and outside the university, and dedication to teaching has profoundly shaped the lives of many people.


The International Committee announces the introduction of the Shelley Fisher Fishkin Prize for International Scholarship in Transnational American Studies for original research in Transnational American Studies (including original interdisciplinary research in Transnational American Studies).

The 2020 prize will be awarded to CHRISTOPHER B. PATTERSON, Assistant Professor at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at the University of British Columbia, Canada, for his book Transitive Cultures: Anglophone Literature of the Transpacific (Rutgers University Press, 2018).  The Committee’s citation is published here.


NOTE: The Mary C. Turpie Prize for outstanding abilities and achievement in American studies teaching, advising, and program development at the local or regional level will not be awarded this year.

Posted for ASA Office in Press Releases
Post date: November 11, 2020

Community announcements and events are services that are offered by the ASA to support the organizing efforts of critical constituency groups. They do not reflect the decisions or actions of the association’s governance bodies, the National Council or Executive Committee. Questions should be directed to the committee, caucus, or chapter that has authored and posted this notice.