Annika Schmeding wins the 2014 IIAS National Master's Thesis Prize in Asian Studies

18 December 2014

On 18 December, Chairman of the IIAS Board, Professor Henk Schulte Nordholt, awarded the 2014 IIAS National Master’s Thesis Prize to Annika Schmeding from Leiden University, for her thesis Who’s the real ‘nomad’ in Afghanistan? Socio-political status, legal rights and the differences between peripatetic and pastoral nomads.

For her excellent work, Anika won a full three-month IIAS fellowship to write a PhD project proposal or a research article.

From a total of 13 submitted master's theses, the jury had selected four theses for the shortlist (see below). In his congratulatory speech, Professor Schulte Nordholt did not forget to praise the other three finalists who were also present, together with their families and friends, during the festive award ceremony in Leiden University's Faculty Club. In fact, he explained, the selection committee had a very hard time choosing between the final four short-listed theses but had finally made their choice based on the following considerations:

Annika Schmeding’s thesis on the nomads and semi-nomads of Afghanistan struck the selection committee, not only by its contents and the quality of the presentation, but particularly by the way in which the material had been collected. Fieldwork in war-torn Afghanistan, to put it mildly, cannot be easy; but Ms Schmeding has shown that a great deal of determination and courage can provide information that would otherwise remain hidden, for perhaps many years to come. She has furthermore drawn attention to ethnic groups in modern Afghanistan that to date have received little attention, namely the peripatetic groups, often called the jogis and chori frosh, which have long remained outside mainstream Afghan society, and in fact, continue to do so. She rightly opposes this group to the pastoral nomads and semi-nomads, often known by the name kuchis, which due to their ancestry and language do form an integral part of Afghan society.


The other shortlisted theses:

Local Differences and Transnational Ties. The Gujerati Hindu Community of Cape Town
By Molly Fitzpatrick 
Supervisor: Prof. Mario Rutten
Second reader: Dr Barak Kalir

Working through The Act of Killing – A Matter of Judgment?
By Anna Köberich  
Supervisors: Prof. Frans-Willem Korsten and Dr Yasco Horsman

The Paippalādasamhitā of the Atharvaveda. Kānda 17. First Anuvāka (PS 17.1-6) ‘To the Earth’. A new critical edition with metrical analysis, translation and commentary
By Umberto Selva 
Supervisor: Prof. Alexander M. Lubotsky
Second reader: Dr Alwin Kloekhorst


More information

Each year, IIAS awards a prize for the best master’s thesis in the broad field of Asian Studies in the humanities or social sciences, written at a Dutch university. The next deadline for submission is 1 October 2015. Both students and their supervisors can apply.

Information on the Prize and all shortlisted theses over the last years is available on the IIAS website.