The Newsletter 96 Autumn 2023

ICAS Book Prize 2023

Wai Cheung

In this special edition of The Newsletter we celebrate IIAS’s 30th anniversary. At the same time, we are also celebrating the ICAS Book Prize’s 10th edition in this special insert for the 2023 edition!

At its inception, the ICAS Book Prize (IBP) received tens of submissions in three categories. Over the years, the number of submissions and prize categories gradually grew, with IBP developing into one of the biggest book prizes in the field of Asian Studies. With the aim to become more inclusive and to decentre the landscape of knowledge on and in Asia, IBP has been awarding prizes in multiple languages for several editions now. As this edition still partly coincided with the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, we were pleased to see that many individuals still successfully completed their PhD degrees and that the publication of books and articles remained substantial. For the IBP 2023 edition, we received nearly 800 submissions and are awarding prizes in 13 different categories!

The IBP 2023 partners

For the 2023 edition, we started working together with three new co-organisers and sponsors: Casa Asia (sponsor of the Portuguese/Spanish Edition); Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETRO, co-organiser of the Japanese Edition); and Wan Boo Sow Research Center for Chinese Culture at the National University of Singapore (organiser and sponsor of the Chinese Edition). We are grateful that they joined our IBP family by supporting this multilingual initiative. Our gratitude also goes out to our longstanding partners who have been organising and sponsoring several editions already: the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS, German Edition); GIS Asie, French Academic Network on Asian Studies (French Edition); IIAS and the Asian Library at Leiden University (English Edition); SEPHIS, The South-South Exchange Program for Research on the History of Development (Portuguese/Spanish Edition); Society for Hong Kong Studies (Best Article on Global Hong Kong Studies); Seoul National University Asia Center (SNUAC, Korean Edition); and Aysun Uyar Makibayshi (Secretary of the Japanese Edition). Without their support and efforts, these different categories would not have been possible. It was a delight to work with all these highly motivated and committed partners as well as with their network of reading committee members. Thank you all for your hard work!

Besides being the Acting Secretary of the IBP, I was also the Secretary for the English Edition. This tenth edition in 2023 marked several ‘firsts’ for the IBP. Paul van der Velde, our recently retired colleague who initiated the IBP in 2003, had a completely different role this time. Instead of being the organiser, he fulfilled the role of a reading committee member. I am sure it must have been a joy for him to finally be able to have time to go through and actually read all the submitted books in the Humanities category. Our longstanding colleague in this endeavour, Alex McKay, went from chair of the dissertations reading committee to sitting on the reading committee for books as well this time. Taking over Alex’s former role was Anna Romanowicz. It was her first time as the chair of the dissertations reading committee, though she was involved in several previous editions already. I am grateful that I could work with a very supportive team, both external and internal. Though I did not have the opportunity to go through all the submissions, it was very enlightening to hear and read the reading committee members’ praises of the shortlisted submissions. Besides the academic value of the research, there seemed to be an appreciation for how the research topics relate to people’s everyday lives, or how scholarly conclusions connect to real-life issues and current world events. This appreciation extended across various fields, encompassing both contemporary and historical research topics. I can only imagine how difficult the choices were that every reading committee member had to make to arrive at the selection of the longlists, the shortlists, and eventually the winners. For the IBP 2013 edition, ten years ago, ‘accolades’ were introduced and have been awarded ever since, so submissions with specific aspects that the reading committees appreciated could be acknowledged, such as the ‘Best Read for the General Public’ or ‘Groundbreaking Publication.’ Even so, many excellent works still go unrewarded, but I am convinced that each submission makes a difference within or also beyond its field.

The IBP has been awarding prizes to books, dissertations, and articles of exceptional quality for 20 years. We are grateful that we can continue to recognise outstanding research being done in Asian Studies. On behalf of the IBP Secretariat, I would like to thank all publishers and authors who submitted their titles; our partnering sponsors and organisers for their support and work; all reading committee members for their time and efforts; and all colleagues who helped make this edition a success.

In the past weeks, we have announced the 13 prize winners in the different categories one by one. You can visit our announcement website to view all award videos if you have missed these. In this supplement booklet, you will find all shortlisted submissions, the winners, and the accolades of the IBP 2023!


Wai Cheung is the Acting Secretary of the ICAS Book Prize at IIAS.


IBP partners

Leiden University Libraries: Sponsor of the English Language Edition. GIS Asie: Organiser and Sponsor of the French Language Edition. CATS: Organiser and Sponsor of the German Language Edition. Casa Asia and SEPHIS: Sponsor and Organiser of the Portuguese/Spanish Language Edition. SNUAC: Organiser and Sponsor of the Korean Language Edition. IDE-JETRO: Co-organiser of the Japanese Language Edition. Wan Boo Sow Research Centre for Chinese Culture, NUS: Organiser and Sponsor of the Chinese Language Edition. SHKS: Organiser and Sponsor of the Best Article Prize on Global Hong Kong Studies. ICAS: Co-organiser of the English and Japanese Language Editions.