Book Awards

NUS is highly competitive for book prizes in Asian Studies, winning two of the last four Kahin Prizes awarded by the Association for Asian Studies. We were the first Asia-based press to win an AAS award in any category. In recent years, we have started to be recognized by the discipline based prizes as well. We also regularly submit books for general publishing book prizes.

Academic Book Prizes


Winner: 2024 Nancy Staub Prize, UNIMA USA

Kathryn 'Kitsie' Emerson, for Innovation, Style and Spectacle in Wayang: Purbo Asmoro and the Evolution of an Indonesian Performing Art


Winner: Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB)'s Colvin Prize

Chang Jiat Hwee, Justin Zhuang and Darren Soh, for Everyday Modernism: Architecture and Society in Singapore

Highly Commended: Best Book - AAANZ Arts Writing and Publishing Awards (AWAPAs)

Elly Kent, Artists and the People: Ideologies of Art in Indonesia

Art Book Accolade: ICAS Book Prize in the Social Sciences

Elly Kent, Artists and the People: Ideologies of Art in Indonesia 

Long-listed: ICAS Book Prize in Humanities

Heather Sutherland, for Seaways and Gatekeepers: Trade and State in the Eastern Archipelagos of Southeast Asia, c.1600–c.1906



Winner: Association for Asian Studies A.L. Becker Prize for translation from a Southeast Asian language

Roger Nelson, translator, for A New Sun Rises Over the Old Land, by Suon Sorin,

“With this artful translation, Roger Nelson gives the English-reading public a gift of insight into the hopes that a post-independence Cambodia which would have served the poor as well as the rich and the rural as well as urban populations... Nelson’s work reminds us that Cambodia was, and continues to be a place of deep history, literary innovation, and hopeful promise. His translation also gives us rare insight into Khmer reportage and a literary legacy, much of which has been lost during the Khmer Rouge era. Nelson’s translation reminds of us that legacy.”

Finalist, Euroseas Humanities Prize

Heather Sutherland, Seaways and Gatekeepers: Trade and State in the Eastern Archipelagos of Southeast Asia, c.1600–c.1906

Finalist, Euroseas Social Science Prize

Sandeep Ray, Celluloid Colony: Locating History and Ethnography in Early Dutch Colonial Films of Indonesia


Finalist: 2021 Hughes Prize, British Society for the History of Science (BSHS)

Timothy Barnard, Imperial Creatures: Humans and Other Animals in Colonial Singapore, 1819–1942

The BSHS Hughes Prize is awarded every two years to the best book in the history of science that is published in English and accessible to a general audience. It rewards books that bring scholarship to new readers by capturing the public imagination while conforming to the rigorous standards of academic research.

Winner: Specialist Publication Accolade, ICAS Book Prize 2021

Aurora Donzelli, One or Two Words: Language and Politics in the Toraja Highlands of Indonesia

“Donzelli's ethnographic account of cosmopolitan indigeneity in the Toraja Highlands, offers an innovative account of the recalibration of power between local and national languages in post-Suharto's Indonesia. Her nuanced monograph is a product of long-term critical fieldwork, exploring social change and collective belonging through the power of transient acts of speech.”

Finalist: ICAS Book Prize 2021 English - Best Book in the Social Sciences

Patcharin Lapanun, Love, Money and Obligation: Transnational Marriage in a Northeastern Thai Village


Honorable mention: 2020 Bruno Nettl Prize

Peter Keppy, Tales of Southeast Asia's Jazz Age: Filipinos, Indonesians and Popular Culture, 1920-1936 

The Bruno Nettl prize is awarded annually by the Society of Ethnomusicology to an outstanding publication contributing to or dealing with the history of the field of ethnomusicology, broadly defined, or with the general character, problems, and methods of ethnomusicology.

Winner: 2020 Early Career Book Prize of the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA)

Vannessa Hearman, Unmarked Graves: Death and Survival in the Anti-Communist Violence in East Java, Indonesia

“Hearman offers an original and highly engaging account of anti-communist violence in East Java. This book weaves together rich narratives drawn from oral history interviews, appealing to a broad interdisciplinary audience. A critical contribution to the historiography of the Left in Indonesia, this book both reveals the suffering of the past while speaking to present hopes and struggles for the acknowledgement of the tragic massacre of 1965-66.”


Winner: 2019 George McT. Kahin Prize of the Association for Asian Studies

Lisandro E. Claudio, Liberalism in the Postcolony: Thinking the State in 20th-Century Philippines
“...offers an intellectual history of liberalism in the Philippines, told through the lives and ideas of four prominent Filipino liberals in government, academia, and international institutions from the 1920s to 1980s... Well-crafted and lightened by sly humor, the book is noteworthy not only for its earnest, ambitious analysis, but also for the originality of its conception, the stylishness of its presentation, and the professional courage to mount a robust defense of this moderate political creed.”

Winner: EuroSEAS Book Prize 2019 for Humanities

Lisandro E. Claudio, Liberalism and the Postcolony: Thinking the state in 20th century Philippines

ICAS Humanities Ground Breaking Accolade 2019

John G. Butcher and R.E. Elson, Sovereignty and the Sea: How Indonesia Became an Archipelagic State

Finalist: EuroSEAS Book Prize 2019 for Social Sciences

Chua Beng Huat, Liberalism disavowed: Communitarianism and state capitalism in Singapore


Shortlist, ICAS Humanities Prize

Sarah Tiffin, Southeast Asia in Ruins. Art and Empire in the Early 19th Century

“This landmark publication describes and analyses British representations of Southeast Asia’s ruined monuments in the late-18th and early-19th century, a time imbued with expansionist aspirations and notions of civilisational hierarchies. Clearly written and drawing upon an underexplored visual repertoire, _Southeast Asia in Ruins_ casts a refreshing light on the nexus between colonial ideology and landscape, demonstrating how the trope of British superiority was purposefully contrasted with an implied Southeast Asian degeneracy. Beautifully illustrated, this book unveils the agency and anxiety of an imperial imagery.”


Winner: George McT. Kahin Prize of the Association for Asian Studies

M.C. Ricklefs, Islamisation and Its Opponents in Java: A Political, Social, Cultural and Religious History, c. 1930 to Present

“This book draws on a formidable body of sources, including interviews, archival documents and a vast range of published material, to situate the Javanese religious experience from the 1930s to the present day in its local political, social, cultural and religious settings.”

Shortlisted: ICAS Social Sciences Book Prize 2015

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: ICAS Humanities Book Prize, 2015

John N. Miksic, Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea, 1300-1800, by

“Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea 1300-1800 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. Personal recollections and biographical sketches enliven the narrative and the work is well-illustrated and presented. It is a work of lasting scholarship.”

ICAS Social Sciences Prize, Ground-breaking 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.”

Finalist: Hart Socio-Legal Prize for Early Career Academics 2015

Lynette J. Chua, Mobilizing Gay Singapore: Rights and Resistance in an Authoritarian State


Winner: 2011 Harry J. Benda Prize in Southeast Asia Studies

Jeffrey Hadler, Muslims and Matriarchs: Cultural Resilience in Minangkabau Through Jihad and Colonialism

“Muslims and Matriarchs* is an interpretative expose of Minangkabau social, cultural, and intellectual history...a deeply revealing assessment of the internal dynamics of a society that has produced a disproportionate number of political and business leaders in Indonesia.”

Winner: 2007 Harry J. Benda Prize in Southeast Asia Studies

Eric Tagliacozzo, Secret Trades, Porous Borders: Smuggling and States Along a Southeast Asia Frontier, 1865-1915

Winner: 2006 Harry J. Benda Prize in Southeast Asia Studies

Mary Callahan, Making Enemies: War and State Building in Burma 


General Book Prizes

Winner: SBPA Singapore Book Awards 2023 Best Non-fiction Title

Kevin Blackburn, The Comfort Women of Singapore

Winner: Singapore Literature Prize for Non-fiction, 2022

Wang Gungwu and Margaret Wang, Home is Where We Are

Winner: SBPA Singapore Book Awards 2021 Best Non-fiction Title

Herman Ronald Hochstadt, lives & times of hrh

Finalist: NUS Singapore History Prize 2021

Timothy Barnard, Imperial Creatures: Humans and Other Animals in Colonial Singapore, 1819–1941
Wang Gungwu and Margaret Wang, Home is Where We Are

The NUS Singapore History Prize is awarded every three years, and it is the first ever history prize devoted entirely to Singapore history. 

Shortlisted: Singapore Book Awards 2021, Singapore Book Publishers Association (SBPA)

Best Non-fiction title - Home is Where We Are by Wang Gungwu and Margaret Wang
Best Book Cover Design - If We Dream Too Long (New edition) by Goh Poh Seng

Finalist: Singapore Literature Prize (SLP) for Creative Non-fiction, 2020, Singapore Book Council

Gerard Sasges and Ng Shi Wen, Hard at Work: Life in Singapore

Finalist: Singapore Book Awards 2020, Singapore Book Publishers Association (SBPA)

Best non-fiction title - Hard at Work: Life in Singapore, edited by Gerard Sasges and Ng Shi Wen
Imperial Creatures: Humans and Other Animals in Colonial Singapore, 1819–1942, by Timothy Barnard
Best digital marketing campaign - Wanderlust: The Amazing Ida Pfeiffer, the First Female Tourist by John van Wyhe

Winner: 2014 Royal Marines Historical Society Literary Award

Limbang Rebellion: 7 Days in December 1962 by Eileen Chanin
”This is the gripping story of eight days in December 1962, when self-styled Prime Minister of a united northern Borneo, Sheikh A. M. Azahari, mounted his anti-Malaysia insurrection the opening act of the military and diplomatic conflict that became known as Konfrontasi.” 

Winner: 2013 Asian Publishing Awards - Best Insight into Asian Societies (non-fiction): Excellence Award

Affordable Excellence: The Singapore Healthcare Story by William A. Haseltine

2012 Asian Publishing Awards - Best Insights into Asian Societies (non-fiction): Excellence Award

Floating on a Malayan Breeze: Travels in Singapore and Malaysia by Sudhir Thomas Vadaketh

2012 Asian Publishing Awards - Best Book on the Asian Media Industry: Excellence Award

Freedom from the Press: Journalism and State Power in Singapore by Cherian George