The Newsletter 89 Summer 2021

IBP 2021 English Language Edition - Humanities

Total number of books submitted: 247
Total number of dissertations submitted: 99

Coordinating Entity: ICAS Secretariat
General Secretary IBP: Paul van der Velde
Secretary IBP English Language Edition: Sonja Zweegers
Chair of 2021 Dissertations Edition: Alex McKay
Reading Committee Members: Howard Chiang and Torsten Weber (books); Faizah Zakaria and Anna Romanowicz (dissertations)
Sponsor of the IBP 2021 English Language Edition: Asian Library / Leiden University

LU - Asian Library

Book Prize 2021 Humanities - Winner

AUTHOR: Stephanie Coo

TITLE: Clothing the Colony. Nineteenth Century Philippine Sartorial Culture, 1820-1896

PUBLISHER: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2019

Stephanie Coo’s Clothing the Colony is a beautiful book that studies the role of clothing in the relationship between the Spanish colonizers and the Philippine colonized. It is a comprehensive study that includes all agents and aspects in this process, including children, workers, traders, race, class, gender, religion, economy. It is, most of all, a sociocultural history of clothing in the 19th century but it is also a history of the Philippines and of colonial life. Coo skilfully manages to explain how and why Clothing the Colony in the Philippines was different from other colonial experiences, including Indian and Chinese clothing culture and trade. She locates the broad themes she covers in theoretical reflections, including that of “clothing as a social skin”, and thereby provides insights that by far transcend the Philippine experience and the 19th century. 


IBP 2021 Humanities Shortlist

The Invention of Madness: State, Society, and the Insane in Modern ChinaAUTHOR: Emily Baum

TITLE: The Invention of Madness: State, Society, and the Insane in Modern China

PUBLISHER: The University of Chicago Press, 2018.

Emily Baum’s The Invention of Madness is a tour-de-force history of Western psychiatry in early twentieth-century China. Drawing on a rich and original source base, the book carefully delineates a number of transformations in mental health care between 1908, the year Beijing erected its first insane asylum, and 1937, when the Japanese invaded the city: the Beijing Municipal Asylum’s detachment from the police force and reconfiguration under the aegis of Peking Union Medical College, Chinese families’ evolving strategies for managing their mentally ill relatives, the rise of a patent medicine industry that targeted the brain and nervous systems, the emergence of a neurasthenic identity embodied by the urban intelligentsia, and the growth of a mental hygiene movement. An important contribution to medical pluralism, this gripping monograph shows how insanity served as the mirror reflection of those who sought a rational existence in the social and political turmoil of Republican China.


The King and the People: Sovereignty and Popular Politics in Mughal DelhiAUTHOR: Abhishek Kaicker

TITLE: The King and the People: Sovereignty and Popular Politics in Mughal Delhi

PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press, 2020.

Abhishek Kaicker’s The King and the People is a remarkable study of how the masses of the urban Mughal imperium expressed their political agency through the language of Islamic practices. By mining a diverse range of Persianate sources, it transcends normative binary constructs in historiography, such as the oppositions between politics and religion, the sacred and the secular, elite hegemony and popular sovereignty, and economic rationality and cultural aspiration. This masterful urban history confirms the centrality of Dehli in early modern global history, especially as viewed through the lens of the city’s denizens who mobilized, challenged, but also defended the king’s authority in ordinary struggles. Along the way, the book rereads several historic episodes—including the 1729 Shoemakers’ Riots and Nadir Shah’s invasion of Delhi in 1739—to restore the wide variety of gestures that marked the transgressive assertion of the lowest members of society in determinant political affairs.


British India, White Australia: Overseas Indians, Intercolonial Relations and the EmpireAUTHOR: Kama Maclean

TITLE: British India, White Australia: Overseas Indians, Intercolonial Relations and the Empire

PUBLISHER: NewSouth Publishing, 2020.

Kama Maclean’s British India, White Australia provides a unique and fascinating perspective on the interrelation between the British empire, Australia and India – or, in her words “the awkward triangular dynamic” between Britain, India and Australia in the early twentieth century. It takes a people-centred approach to explore and explain the complex history of Australia’s place in the negotiation of identity and independence from the late 19th to the mid-20th century. Focusing on racial issues, the author manages to write a history of Australia that goes far beyond a political history: it is s global, imperial, and people’s history and it also helps to understand today’s problems related to Whiteness, imperial nostalgia, and colonial-imperial relationship. The book is also a wonderful example of how Asian history can and maybe should be written in a way that integrates the relevance of non-Asian countries, empires, and people without decentering Asia.


apan's Carnival War: Mass Culture on the Home Front, 1937–1945AUTHOR: Benjamin Uchiyama

TITLE: Japan's Carnival War: Mass Culture on the Home Front, 1937–1945

PUBLISHER: Cambridge University Press, 2020.

Benjamin Uchiyama’s Japan’s Carnival War is a fascinating cultural history that changes the way we have come to understand Japan’s home front during World War Two. Through the lens of five protagonists, we gain new insights into Japan’s total war and learn that entertainment and consumption played an important role in mobilizing the people. The reporter, the munitions worker, the soldier, the movie star, and the youth aviator each disrupted the apparatus of wartime state repression and created new visions of pleasure and desire that connected Japanese consumer-subjects to transnational trends of hedonism. Offering refreshing insights concerning power, identity, and the public mediation of wartime meanings, Uchiyama’s book impresses with its creativity and its engagement with both scholarship and historical sources.   


IBP 2021 Accolades in the Humanities

Publisher’s Accolade for Outstanding Production Value

Japan Supernatural: Ghosts, Goblins and Monsters, 1700s to NowAUTHOR: Melanie Eastburn (ed.)

TITLE: Japan Supernatural: Ghosts, Goblins and Monsters, 1700s to Now

PUBLISHER: Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2019

Japan Supernatural is a richly illustrated exhibition book which impresses by the combination of accessible texts and fascinating paintings, prints, and photographs from three centuries of Japanese yokai culture. It is an outstanding production for both specialists and a broader audience interested in Japanese art.


Most Accessible and Captivating Work for the Non-Specialist Reader Accolade

China’s Good War:AUTHOR: Rana Mitter

TITLE: China’s Good War: How World War II is Shaping a New Nationalism

PUBLISHER: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2020

China’s Good War is a highly readable reassessment of World War II and its significance in the production of historical and cultural narratives about modern China, nationalism, and public memory.


Specialist Publication Accolade

Ocean of Milk, Ocean of Blood: A Mongolian Monk in the Ruins of the Qing EmpireAUTHOR: Matthew W. King

TITLE: Ocean of Milk, Ocean of Blood: A Mongolian Monk in the Ruins of the Qing Empire

PUBLISHER: Columbia University Press, 2019

Exploring the intellectual legacy of the Mongolian monk Zava Damdin, Ocean of Milk, Ocean of Blood is an erudite study of an alternative historical universe grounded not in conventional categories of imperialism, revolution, and nationalism, but in the role of Buddhist monasticism in exceeding modernity’s anticipation at the frontiers of political power.


Teaching Tool Accolade

Sacred Mandates: Asian International Relations since Chinggis KhanAUTHOR: Timothy Brook, Michael van Walt, Miek Boltjes (eds)

TITLE: Sacred Mandates: Asian International Relations since Chinggis Khan      

PUBLISHER: The University of Chicago Press, 2018

Sacred Mandates offers a new framework for our understanding of the impact and legacies of the history of international relations in Inner and East Asia. Its breadth and accessibility make the book an outstanding addition to any international relations course syllabus.


Ground-Breaking Subject Matter Accolade

Angkor Wat: A Transcultural History of HeritageAUTHOR: Michael Falser

TITLE: Angkor Wat: A Transcultural History of Heritage (2 vols.)

PUBLISHER: De Gruyter, 2019

Angkor Wat is a multi-volume study of the modern history of this 12th-century temple complex from a transcultural and heritage-making perspective. This monumental study traces the transformation of Angkor Wat’s status from a site of French colonial heritage to a global symbol of Cambodian nationalism.


Edited Volume Accolade

The Oxford Handbook of Early ChinaAUTHOR: Elizabeth Childs-Johnson (ed.)

TITLE: The Oxford Handbook of Early China

 PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press, 2020

Authoritative and multidisciplinary in scope, this landmark volume offers a comprehensive overview of the latest research trends, paradigms, and approaches in the study of early China, from the Neolithic era to the Warring States period.


Best Art Publication

Surrealism and Photography in 1930s Japan: The Impossible Avant-GardeAUTHOR: Jelena Stojkovic

TITLE: Surrealism and Photography in 1930s Japan: The Impossible Avant-Garde         

PUBLISHER: Routledge / Taylor & Francis, 2020

Studying the surrealist inspiration to photography in Japan in the 1930s, Jelena Stojkovic’s excellently researched book adds a new perspective not only to the history of photography but also to Japanese history. Offering original analyses and reproductions of more than 50 art works and clippings from newspapers and journals, this volume is an outstanding art publication.


Dissertation Prize 2021 English Edition – Humanities Winner


AUTHOR: Hyeok Hweon Kang

TITLE: Crafting Knowledge: Artisan, Officer and the Culture of Making in Choson Korea, 1392-1910. Harvard University, 2020

This work examines craft knowledge as a site for knowledge-making, particularly in science and technology. It argues that before the factory, manufactories taught craft by replicating goods; traces how artisan knowledge rippled out; and follows the creation and life of military objects made by artisans, showing the connections between rote learning and creativity, science and artisanship through the lens of vernacular science.



IBP 2021 Dissertations in the Humanities Shortlist

AUTHOR: Kathleen Cruz Gutierrez

TITLE: The Region of Imperial Strategy: Regino Garcia, Sebastian Vidal, Mary Clemens and the Consolidation of International Botany in the Philippines

University of California-Berkeley, 2020

This dissertation traces the history of botany in the Philippines under two successive colonial regimes. Interrogating how Spain and the US asserted imperial dominance on a global stage, it shows that “scientific regionalism” preceded the political regionalism of World War 2 and that far from being apolitical, botany consolidated empires, and mapped a floristic region before a geo-military Southeast Asia.


AUTHOR: Matthew Reeder

TITLE: Categorical Kingdoms: Innovations in Ethnic Labeling and Visions of Communal States in Early Modern Siam

Cornell University, 2019

Using a variety of previously unstudied primary sources, Reeder uncovers early modern Thai innovations on how to categorize people, and investigates how these categories became the part of the basis for modern ethnicization, priming them to understand Western categories of “nation”, “ethnicity” and “race”. In so doing, it complicates the notion of personal rule in Southeast Asia’s imperialistic monarchies in the early modern period.



AUTHOR: Young Il Seo

TITLE: Constructing Frontier Villages: Human Habitation in the South Korean Borderlands after the Korean War

University of Cambridge, 2019

This dissertation examines the villages at the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea, which proves fertile ground to rethink concepts of borderlands in the context of military conflict. Arguing that the DMZ was not a static, regulated space of neutrality, this work, through close attention to architecture and spatiality, demonstrates dynamism on multiple fronts, especially in the transformation of space.



AUTHOR: Sudev J. Sheth

TITLE: Business Households, Financial Capital, and Public Authority in India, 1650-1818

University of Pennsylvania, 2018

This dissertation sheds light on Mughal histories using vernacular sources in Persian, Gujarati, Marathi and Sanskrit to write against the conventional narrative of Mughal decline in the long eighteenth century. It persuasively demonstrates the rise of a finance sector led by “business households,” on whom the Mughal court became reliant to its detriment, counter-intuitively presenting economic vitality amidst growing central political weakness.


IBP 2021 Accolades for Dissertations in the Humanities


Chairman's Accolade

AUTHOR: J. Eva Meharry

TITLE: Politics of the Past: Archaeology, Nationalism and Diplomacy in Afghanistan (1919–2001)

University of Cambridge, 2020

This dissertation examines the historical relationship between archaeology and nationalism in Afghanistan's political sphere. It demonstrates how nationalist agendas shaped archaeology there, and how archaeology informed elite Afghan nationalist agendas. It is an important record and analysis of the archaeological discipline and its impact on modern Afghanistan.


Specialist Accolade

AUTHOR: Andrea Lorene Gutierrez

TITLE: A Genre of its Own: A History of Pākaśāstra and Other Culinary Writing of Early India

University of Texas at Austin, 2020

This dissertation delineates the history of recipe writing in South Asia through traditional treatises on cooking. It disentangles Pākaśāstra from medical traditions, offers a brilliant technical analysis of these works and expands our understanding of courtly cultures in culinary development.


Ground-Breaking Subject Matter Accolade

AUTHOR: Astrid Moller Olsen

TITLE: Seven Senses of the City: Urban Spacetime and Sensory Memory in Contemporary Sinophone Fiction

Lund University, 2020

This dissertation investigates the narrative mechanisms and imagery that Sinophone fiction uses to narrate complex human experiences that were rooted in space, time and memory. It breaks new ground in engaging with sensory paradigms to show how this fiction creates civic histories.


Most Accessible and Captivating Dissertation for the Non-Specialist Reader Accolade

AUTHOR: Jack Neubauer

TITLE: Adopted by the World: China and the Rise of Global Intimacy

Columbia University, 2019

Neubauer examines the “intimate turn” in global humanitarianism and China’s role in this development. Through an engaging narrative centred on “transnational adoptions” of Chinese children, it reveals the material and affective exchanges that went into building personal relationships in an international context.