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Two NUS Press Titles Shortlisted for the 2017 Singapore Book Awards April 7, 2017 10:00
We are pleased that two NUS Press titles have been shortlisted for two categories in this year’s Singapore Book Awards.
Best Non-Fiction Title Finalist
In A Tiger Remembers, Ann Wee, born in the Year of the Fire Tiger, pays homage to the things history books often deem insignificant — questions of hygiene, terms of endearment, the emotional nuance in social relations, stories of ghost wives and changeling babies, rural clan settlements and migrant dormitories, the things that changed when families moved from squatter settlements into public housing.
Affectionately observed and wittily narrated, with a deep appreciation of how far Singapore has come, this book brings to life the story of social change through a focus on the institution of the family. The late S. R. Nathan is "certain that this memoir will be absorbed in society and will serve as a conversation piece to learn about the various aspects of our past heritage and culture."
Best Illustrated Non-Fiction Title
The history of Singapore's Chinese community has been carved in stone and wood throughout the country. Professor Kenneth Dean and Dr Hue Guan Thye's Chinese Epigraphy in Singapore, 1819-1911 looks specifically at 62 Chinese temples, native place associations, clan and guild halls, where epigraphs were made between 1819 to 1911 are still found today. Over the course of four years, Professor Dean and Dr Hue visited more than 400 locations to record, photography, analyse and translate these inscriptions into English. These epigraphs are now faithfully reproduced with more than 1,300 illustrations in these two volumes.
The Singapore Book Awards is an industry award for books published in Singapore. Into its third edition, the awards shine the spotlight on the quality of published works and celebrate the achievements of the local publishing industry.
This year’s award winners will be announced at an Awards Ceremony at Pan Pacific Singapore on April 20, 2017. For more information about the Singapore Book Awards and other award categories, click here.
Publishing New Asia Scholarship December 18, 2015 10:43
Paul Kratoska and I co-wrote this article which was published in the Autumn edition of The Newsletter of the Institute for International Asian Studies, a stimulating issue that looks at the big trends in Asian Studies.
This year’s twelve-title shortlist for the ICAS Book Awards on social sciences and humanities included three books first published in Asia (two by NUS Press). For the new EuroSEAS Nikkei Book Awards given in Vienna in August this year, five of six finalists originated in Asia. And in March this year, the US Association of Asian Studies (AAS) awarded its Kahin Prize to M.C. Ricklefs’ Islamisation and its Opponents in Java: A Political, Social, Cultural and Religious History, a book originated in 2012 by NUS Press at the National University of Singapore. Remarkably, this was the first time any book published in Asia received an AAS book prize.
It took a long time to reach this particular milestone, and it is useful to explore what it might mean.
Does it tell us anything about the shifts in Asian Studies? About new Asia scholars? Despite many predictions over the years that the centre of Asian Studies would shift to Asia, why is so much of Asian Studies scholarship still published outside Asia? And does that matter?
The past few decades have brought an explosion of scholarship on Asia carried out by scholars at Asian universities. The greater part of this research is published in local languages and receives little attention outside of the countries where it appears, and like scholarship in other parts of the world, it tends to come out in the form of journal articles rather than monographs.
Asian-language scholarship often deals with issues of particular concern to the countries where it originates, and is part of a conversation that does not actively invite participation by outsiders. Many universities, research centres and other institutions in East and Southeast Asia publish scholarly periodicals that handle this material. A rough calculation suggests that there are more than 40,000 such publications, many of them fully funded by Asian institutions.
However, the major universities in Asia now expect scholars to publish research articles in internationally recognized journals covered by major citation indexes, in effect requiring them to write and publish in English. When Asian scholars do this, their audience shifts. Potential readers include scholars in the West, but also scholars based in other Asian countries who may well find parallels with their own research concerns. (Recent work that fits this model deals with topics such as regionalism and Asian identity.) As a publisher based in Asia, we look to for opportunities to nurture this second audience.
Recent initiatives such as the Consortium for Southeast Asian Studies in Asia (SEASIA) launched in 2013 suggest that institutions and scholars will increasingly work within widespread networks, electronic and personal, that extend across national borders. Technological advances in the production and distribution of books are creating a global book market. While traditional library markets in the West are under severe pressure, it is possible for publishers in Asia to reach them with greater ease.
Asian markets are becoming more open and transparent in response to a growing demand for access to information. The more savvy publishers from the West are originating more works from Asia, basing commissioning editors in the region and commissioning more local peer reviews.
Manuscripts written by Western authors are often written to explain Asia to the West, and adopt an “outside-looking-in” perspective on matters of great import to audiences in the region.
Frequently these manuscripts represent solid scholarship, but they position their discussion within the theoretical concerns currently engaging scholars outside of Asia and for a publisher like NUS Press, whose primary market lies in Asia, they have limited appeal. When referees in Asia indicate that the substance of a manuscript is well known within the country concerned, and that the material is not pitched appropriately for Asian readers, our conclusion is that the author should probably seek publication opportunities elsewhere.
At the same time, more and more younger scholars from all parts of the world see social science research as a co-creation of knowledge. If they do Asian Studies they wish to speak to Asian audiences, and while their books and articles may reach readers in institutions around the world, they also become embedded in local discourse.
The book prizes mentioned at the start of this piece reflected a noticeable shift in the geography of publication of Asian studies. Whether this shift becomes a long-term trend remains to be seen, but the remarkable output of research by Asian scholars cannot be ignored, even if publishers are grappling with new forms of “publication” and new channels for delivering knowledge.
Peter Schoppert is Director and Paul Kratoska is Publishing Director at NUS Press
Philip Taylor wins 2015 Nikkei EuroSEAS Social Science Book Prize: Five NUS Press titles shortlisted August 19, 2015 16:40
We are pleased to announce that Philip Taylor has won the inaugural Nikkei EuroSEAS Social Science Book Prize awarded by the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies at a reception at the University of Vienna on 12 August 2015.
The Social Science Prize was awarded to Taylor for his The Khmer Lands of Vietnam: Environment, Cosmology and Sovereignty. "In this meticulous, absorbing and often poignant book, Philip Taylor draws on years of fieldwork to take us among the appealing, resilient and ecologically gifted Khmer speaking minority in southern Vietnam. This is the first book in any language to treat these beleaguered men, and women with the sustained, sympathetic attention that they deserve." - David Chandler
The prize was accepted on behalf of the author by Gerald Jackson, of NIAS Press, which co-published the European edition of the book. (You can just make him out in the photo at left...)
Khmer Lands was just one of five books originated by NUS Press which made the EuroSEAS shortlist, in both the social sciences and the humanities categories. We are greatly honoured by the nominations and would like to thank everyone for their continual support. The additional shortlisted titles are mentioned below:
Shortlisted for the Humanities Book Prize
Surabaya, 1945-2010: Neighbourhood, state and economy in Indonesia’s city of struggle by Robbie Peters
"This is a brilliant book, a must read for anybody wanting to understand the Asian city...Peters has written what I believe is the best study of any Indonesian kampung. Few scholars have managed to do such close and complex ethnographic and oral history research - gaining the trust of people from the lowest to the highest levels of a seemingly chaotic urban society." - Lea Jellinek
Squatters into Citizens: the 1961 Bukit Ho Swee fire and the making of modern Singapore by Loh Kah Seng
"This excellent book - located at the intersection of history, ethnography and sociology - makes a major contribution to our understanding of the social history of post-war/post-colonial Singapore, and more generally to the interdisciplinary field of disaster studies." - James Francis Warren
Shortlisted for the Social Science Book Prize
Mobilizing Gay Singapore: rights and resistance in an authoritarian state by Lynette J. Chua
"Mobilizing Gay Singapore fills a void in foreigners’ understanding of gay issues in Singapore. It will remain for some time the standard work on the subject and is a very welcome addition to the LGBT canon."
- Nigel Collett
Fields of Desire: poverty and policy in Laos by Holly High
"In this beautifully composed ethnography on poverty reduction programs in Laos, Holly High uncovers the ambivalence with which rural people regard state power. Her meditation on the ambiguity of desire in state-society relations is path-breaking and offers new insights into the nature of rural citizenship in Southeast Asia and beyond." - Philip Taylor
We are greatly honoured by the nominations and would like to thank everyone for their continual support.
ICAS BOOK PRIZE 2015 Citations and Accolades August 3, 2015 12:00
At the 2015 International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS), in Adelaide, two NUS Press titles, shortlisted for the ICAS Book Awards, were given lovely citations by the judging committee. We were pleasantly surprised to be awarded the Ground Breaking Matter Accolade as well.
Shortlisted for the ICAS Book Prize 2015 for Best Study in the Social Sciences.
Philip Taylor, The Khmer Lands of Vietnam. Environment, Cosmology and Sovereignty.
"A rich ethnography of in-between peoples in an in-between space, The Khmer Lands of Vietnam explores the life-worlds of the Khmer Krom community within and across state boundaries. By drawing on Khmer Krom cosmology and its relationship to ways of conceptualizing and adapting to a rapidly changing ecology in the lower-Mekong, Taylor locates a small community at the epicentre of a bold scholarly challenge to the ways sovereignty, displacement, and identity are commonly understood and studied. In doing so the book uncovers sacral and symbolic imaginaries in the mapping of territory, borders, and nation."
Shortlisted for the ICAS Book Prize 2015 for Best Study in the Humanities.
John N. Miksic, Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea 1300-1800.
"Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea 1300-1800, published by the National University of Singapore, is a ground-breaking study of Singapore and its role in the regional long-distance maritime trade during the pre-colonial period. An archaeological-historical study, it draws on a vast range of written and material sources (many uncovered by the author), to create new understandings of the past and indeed the present. Miksic presents a rich and detailed body of information concerning the economic and social history of the region and skilfully applies this to his analysis. In adopting the image of the “Silk Road” from Central Asian studies he provides an immediately comprehensible model that makes this work accessible to those from different disciplines and those seeking comparative insights. Personal recollections and biographical sketches enliven the narrative and the work is well-illustrated and presented. It is a work of lasting scholarship."
Ground-Breaking Matter Accolade
Lynette J. Chua, Mobilizing Gay Singapore. Rights and Resistance in an Authoritarian State.
"In a political climate known for paternalism and civic restrictions, Singapore’s gay activists pursue a pragmatic form of activism, often at significant personal cost. Pragmatism embeds activism in a cultural and legal context that requires challenge from within; a much less spectacular case to analyze but one that resonates deeply with social movements across Asia."
Two NUS Press titles make the shortlist for ICAS Book Prize 2015 May 29, 2015 12:00
We are pleased to announce that two of our books – The Khmer Lands of Vietnam and Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea – have been shortlisted for the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) Book Prize 2015. The ICAS Book Prize is awarded biennially to outstanding English-language works in the field of Asian Studies. NUS Press will also be attending the convention held in Adelaide, Australia from 5 to 9 July 2015. Details of our booth will be announced closer to the date.
The Khmer Lands of Vietnam is shortlisted for the Best Study in the Social Sciences. This groundbreaking work by Philip Taylor uncovers the intricate lifestyle of the Khmer Krom who have to deal with their ambiguous political identities and adapt to living at the Mekong river delta.
Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea has made the shortlist for the Best Study in the Humanities. In this book John N. Miksic synthesises 25 years of archaeological research to reconstruct the 14th-century port of Singapore in greater detail than is possible for any other early Southeast Asian city.
And please show your support by voting for your favourite title in the ICAS Colleagues' Choice Award. The poll will be open until 16 June 2015. We thank you for your enthusiasm and support for our books.