Cindy Ewing, The Asian Unity Project: Human Rights, Third World Solidarity, and the United Nations, 1945-1955. (Yale University)
Cindy Ewing's The Asian Unity Project utilises a wide source base to produce an engaging story about the roots of the development of the international human rights system in the actions of postcolonial Asian actors. Although the 'Asian unity project' was ultimately superseded by a broader notion of the Third World, Ewing restores the importance of this brief historical period.
John L. Hennessey, Rule by Association: Japan in the Global Trans-Imperial Culture, 1868-1912. (Linnaeus University)
John Hennessey's Rule by Association is an exemplary example of modern history writing, which contests the usual image of Japan as a 'marginal latecomer to the community of imperial powers'. It switches effortlessly between case studies and broader arguments, between the empirical exploration of Japanese imperialism and the analytical evaluation of evolving global imperial cultures.
Sanne Ravensbergen, Courtrooms of Conflict: Criminal Law, Local Elites and Legal Pluralities in Colonial Java. (Leiden University)
Sanne Ravensbergen's Courtrooms of Conflict deploys an impressive range of sources in her analysis of the nineteenth-century legal system of colonial Java, locating it in the wider context of colonial state formation. This
Faizah Binte Zakaria, Sacral Ecologies of the North Sumatran Highlands: An Environmental History of Conversions, 1800-1928. (Yale University)
Faizah Zakaria's Sacral Ecologies of the North Sumatran Highlands analyses socio-environmental changes during the transition from animist to monotheistic religions and demonstrates an impressive command of diverse sources and engagement with wider debates. It convincingly portrays conversion as a continuous process of reconfiguring the natural environment, shifting the centre of sacral power to built landscapes, divorcing man from the local.
WINNER of the IBP 2019 – Dissertations – Humanities
Leonor Veiga, The Third Avant-garde: Contemporary Art from Southeast Asia Recalling Tradition. (Leiden University)
Leonor Veiga's The Third Avant-garde explores the reprocessing of tradition in contemporary art in Southeast Asia. It combines art history with anthropology in order to ground the interpretation of Southeast Asian avant-garde in a specific socio-political context. It argues that the contemporary (‘Third’) avant-garde movement exists at the interstices of art and ethnography, contesting both conservative nationalism and Western art hegemony. This is an important work that should be of lasting value.