ASAUK Prize for the Best Doctoral Thesis in African Studies
The African Studies Association of the UK awards a prize for the best doctoral thesis in African Studies which has been successfully examined in a British institution of higher education during the two calendar years immediately preceding the next ASAUK Conference.
The prize is an early mark of esteem for graduate work and is accompanied by a certificate and an attractive package of book and journal vouchers generously provided by our publisher donors.
The prize was inaugurated in 1993, and from 1996 to 2023 was named the Audrey Richards Prize for African Studies. Dr Audrey Richards, CBE (1899–1984) was a pioneering British social anthropologist who worked mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, notably Zambia, South Africa and Uganda. She held lectureships and directorships at LSE, Witwatersrand, Makerere, and Cambridge. She was the Second President of ASAUK. In 2023, ASAUK Council made a decision to name all our prizes simply as ASAUK prizes, and to the prize is again called the ASAUK Dissertation Prize from now on.
The cut-off is for any dissertation successfully defended or awarded between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2023. Deadline for the submission of nominations will be 31 March 2024.
Nominations should consist of a short letter of nomination from the supervisor or external examiner, accompanied by the internal and external examiner’s reports. Please note when writing your nomination that it will assist the Audrey Richards Prize readers and evaluators if you can illustrate why the nominee deserves recognition. Your supporting statement should elaborate on why the nominee’s accomplishments are worthy of the award.
Nominations should be emailed to Dr Louisa Egbunike, Vice-President of ASAUK (please include ‘ASAUK Best Thesis Prize’ in the subject line). The thesis should be emailed as a pdf document along with the examiners’ reports to email@example.com.
Please make sure you have checked all the following:
- No self-nomination, the nomination must come from a supervisor or examiner
- The thesis must have been completed at a UK university
- The thesis must have been successfully defended or awarded between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2023
- Nominations should be accompanied by a letter of motivation written by the examiner or the supervisor.
- Thesis and supporting documents should be sent as pdf files, not word files.
ASAUK Audrey Richards Best Thesis Prize 2022
On behalf of the judging committee for the ASAUK Best Thesis Award, we are delighted to announce the winners for the 2020/1 cycle (awarded in 2022), a cohort who completed their theses under extraordinary conditions, and had to respond to the rapidly changing world in which we have lived since February 2020. We were extremely impressed with all the theses we read, the quality of which inspired great optimism for the future of our scholarly fields.
The winner of the 2022 Audrey Richards Prize is Dr Simeon Koroma, for his thesis titled ”Law Beyond the State: The Makings of Justice in Urban Sierra Leone” completed at the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Dr Simeon Koroma’s interdisciplinary research draws on legal studies and anthropology. His fine-grained ethnography of neighbourhood justice fora and dispute settlement in urban Freetown, known as “barrays” in Krio, constitutes a major contribution to the anthropology of law and the academic literature on law and society in West Africa and the African continent at large. It makes a contribution to the scholarship on traditional authorities and customary law across Africa, and in its argument transcends the reified dichotomy juxtaposing customary law and the law of the modern state. The thesis draws on rich ethnographic evidence generated during long-term field research in the barrays of Freetown, and Dr Koroma develops a theoretical framework situating extra- or para-legal dispute settlement firmly within the legal landscape of Sierra Leone where the judiciary and the police are intertwined with community leaders and their interpretation of custom.
The runners-up for the Best Thesis Award are:
Kate Dawson, “Shifting Sands in Accra, Ghana: The Ante-Lives of Urban Form” completed at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Dr Dawson’s thesis examines sand as the “ante-life” of urban form on the urban periphery of Accra. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in and around the sandpits on the outskirts of Accra, Dr Dawson explores how society and geology intersect, and demonstrates the significance of a consideration of sand to an understanding of city-making and urban political ecology. The thesis also makes novel use of original photographs taken by the author during the fieldwork in a creative way.
Patrick Wahome Mutahi, “Statehood, Sovereignty and Identities: Exploring Policing in Kenya’s Informal Settlements of Mathare and Kaptembwo” completed at the Centre of African Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Mutahi’s thesis presents a significant addition to the study of policing in Africa. The thesis adds new empirical and analytical knowledge on policing in Kenya. The Kenyan case on policing is exceptional for its systematic misuse of power and brutality and the study provides critical insights on the complex relations between state actors, non-state actors and citizens. The detailed empirical material is carefully historicised and Dr Mutahi demonstrates a fine eye for the nuances of social life and the subtle negotiations of power and authority as it takes place on an everyday level.
The ASAUK would like to congratulate the other scholars who were shortlisted for the Audrey Richards Prize. They are:
Rosalie Allein, “‘The Gold is Gone’: Techniques of Resource-Making and Generativity among Gbaya Artisanal Miners in Cameroon”
Divine Asafo, “Peri-urban Development: Land Conflict and its Effect on Housing Development in Peri-urban Accra,Ghana”
Hang Zhou, “Seeing from the Roads: Institution Building, Organisational Restructuring and Everyday Negotiations in Uganda”
The ASAUK thanks the following publishers, who generously donated books and vouchers as prizes to the winners:
Boydell & Brewer
Combined Academic Publishers
The International African Institute
Routledge/Taylor & Francis
Jacinta Muinde, University of Cambridge
‘An Economy of (Dis)Affection: Women-Headed Households, Cash Transfers and Matrilineal Relations in Kenya’s South Coast
Alexander Budd, The Open University
In Search of the Nigerian Pastoral Nollywood: and the Nigerian Creative Industrial System
Jake Christopher Richards, University of Cambridge
Liberated Africans and law in the South Atlantic c.1839 – 1871, Gonville and Cauis
Simukai Chigudu, University of Oxford
State of Emergency’: The Politics of Zimbabwe’s Cholera Outbreak, 2008-2009
Nicki Kindersley, Durham University
‘The Fifth Column? The Political Organization of Southern Sudanese Migrants in Khartoum, 1969-2005 (April 2016)
Clara Devlieger, University of Cambridge
‘People Who Need Rights’? Disability and the Pursuit of Value in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (May 2017)
The runners-up were:
The runners-up were: