ASAUK Prize for the Best Doctoral Thesis in African Studies

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 UK 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 20 April 2024.


In the past, nominations had to consist of a short letter of nomination from the supervisor or external examiner, accompanied by the internal and external examiner’s reports. For this cohort, that will not be a requirement.


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


Please make sure you have checked all the following:



  1. The thesis must have been completed at a UK university
  2. The thesis must have been successfully defended or awarded between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2023
  3. Thesis and any optional 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)


Jesse Zink, University of Cambridge
Christianity and Catastrophe: Sudan’s Civil Wars and Religious Change Among the Dinka

The runners-up were:


Maggie Dwyer, University of Edinburgh
Anticipating the Revolt: Trends in Military Mutinies in West and Central Africa, 1960-2012
Rebecca Jones, University of Birmingham
Writing Domestic Travel in Yoruba and English Print Culture, Southwestern Nigeria 1914-2014


Sarah O’Neill, Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London
Defying the Law, Negotiating Change. The Futanke’s Opposition to the National Ban on FGM in Senegal

The runners-up were:


George Karekwaivanane, Faculty of History, Oxford University
Legal Encounters: Law, State and Society in Zimbabwe, c. 1950-1990
Zoe Marks, Department of Politics and International Relations, Oxford University
The Internal Dynamics of Rebel Groups. Politics of Material Viability and Organizational Capacity, RUF, Sierra Leone
Holly Porter, Department of Social Anthropology, LSE
After Rape: Justice and Social Harmony in Northern Uganda


WINNER: Fibian Lukalo, University of Cambridge
Educating Daughters, Educating Sons: Mothers and Schooling in Rural Kenya
RUNNER-UP: Zoe Groves, University of Keele
Malawians in Colonial Salisbury: a Social History of Migration in Central Africa, c.1920-1960
RUNNER-UP: Maxim Bolt, LSE
Rooting Production: Life and Labour on the Settler Farms of the Zimbabwean-South African Border


WINNER: Hassanali Sachedin, Oxford University
Wildlife is Our Oil: Conservation, Livelihoods and NGOs in the Tarangire Ecosystem, Tanzania


WINNER: Fraser McNeil, LSE
An Ethnographic Analysis of HIV/AIDS in the Venda Region of South Africa: Politics, Peer Education and Music
WINNER:Ruth Marshall, University of Oxford
The Politics of Pentecostalism in Nigeria, 1975-2000


WINNER: Dr Williams Oliver Norman, LSE
Living on the Frontline: Politics, Migration and Transfrontier Conversation in the Mozambican Villages of the Mozambique-South Africa Borderland
WINNER: Dr Samuel Cyuma, OCMS, Oxford
Conflict Reconciliation in South Africa (1990-1998) and its Significance for Mediating Role of the Church in Rwanda 1990-2003
RUNNER-UP: Dr Kate Meagher, Queen Elizabeth House, Oxford
Identity Economics: Informal Manufacturing and Social Networks in South-Eastern Nigeria


WINNER: Joost Fontein, Edinburgh
The silence of Great Zimbabwe: contested landscapes and the power of heritage
RUNNER-UP: Rebekah Lee, Oxford
Locating ‘Home’: strategies of settlement, identity-formation and social change among African women in Cape Town, 1948-2000
RUNNER-UP: Mattia Fumanti, Manchester
Youth, elites and distinction in a northern Namibian town


WINNER: Helen Tilley, Oxford
The African Research Survey and the British Colonial Empire: consolidating environmental, medical, and anthropological debates 1920-1940
RUNNER-UP: Monica Bungaro, Birmingham
New cartographies in recent African fiction: changing patterns in the representation of female characters
RUNNER-UP: Michael Taylor, Edinburgh
Life, land and power: contesting development in Northern Botswana


WINNER: Ruth Watson, Oxford
Chieftaincy politics and civic consciousness in Ibadan history, 1829-1939
RUNNER-UP: Annette Czekelius, SOAS
Artistry and effectiveness in language use: the evaluation of ways of speaking among the Berba of Benin
RUNNER-UP: Jessica Schafer, Oxford
Soldiers at peace: the post-war politics of demobilised soldiers in Mozambique, 1964-1996


WINNER: John Murton, Cambridge
Coping with more people: population growth, non-farm income and economic differentiation in Machakos District, Kenya
RUNNER-UP: Andrea Cornwall, SOAS
For money, children and peace: everyday struggles in changing times in Ado-Ado, Southwestern Nigeria
RUNNER-UP: Frederick Rohde, Edinburgh
Nature, cattle thieves and various other midnight robbers: images of people, place and landscape in Damaraland, Namibia


WINNER: David Maxwell, Oxford
A social and conceptual history of North-East Zimbabwe, 1890-1990
RUNNER-UP: John Parker, SOAS
Ga State and Society in early colonial Accra, 1860s-1920s
RUNNER-UP: Andrew Bank, Cambridge
Liberals and their enemies: racial ideology at the Cape of Good Hope, 1820-1850
RUNNER-UP: Paul Clough, Oxford
The economy and culture of the talakawa of Marmara [Nigeria].


WINNER: Caroline Orwin, SOAS
WINNER: Stephen Devereux, Oxford
Household responses to food insecurity in north eastern Ghana