From the News column of the January 2011 issue of Perspectives on History

John F. Richards Prize for South Asian History to Be Launched

Robert B. Townsend, January 2011

We are pleased to report that after barely a year of fundraising, we have reached the target goal of $50,000 (the minimum necessary to endow a new prize at the AHA) and are ready to launch the John F. Richards Prize for the best book on South Asian history. The first selection committee for the prize will be named in January 2011 and will consider books published between May 1, 2010, and April 30, 2011, for the inaugural prize, which will be presented at the January 2012 meeting of the Association in Chicago. The deadline for submission of entries will be May 16, 2011 (details will appear in the next issue of Perspectives on History and online at the AHA’s web site).

The prize could not have been established without the exceptional efforts of Sumit Guha (Rutgers Univ.) and his colleagues on the fundraising committee (see list below). To date, the prize received generous donations from 99 individual members, including many former students and colleagues of John Richards. The campaign was capped off by sizable donations from the Council of American Overseas Research Centers in honor of John Richards’ contributions in support of American scholars abroad (not least as founding president of the American Institute of Afghan Studies), and by Cambridge University Press, where Richards served as a series editor of the New Cambridge History of India.

The Richards prize complements the 20 existing AHA book prizes, which now cover every major region of the world. Historical scholarship on South Asia has become increasingly prominent and remarkably influential in recent decades, and has been notable especially for developing innovative methodologies and novel perspectives. South Asian history is now taught at a growing number of colleges and universities worldwide, indicating an increasing interest among students and portending a rising volume of research on it. The AHA is pleased to recognize and encourage this scholarship through the new prize.

Members interested in being listed among the inaugural contributors to the prize can still send in donations. Additional support for the fund will enable us to maintain its integrity in unstable investment environments, and help it to grow with inflation.

Gifts to the John F. Richards Prize fund of the American Historical Association will be tax-deductible as permitted by law and each will be acknowledged by the chair of the fundraising committee as well as the AHA office. Any member of the campaign committee may be contacted for further information. Checks should be made out to the American Historical Association (with “Richards Prize” in the check’s memo line) and mailed to AHA Richards Prize Fund, PO Box 532, Metuchen, NJ 08840-0532, USA, along with the form that can be downloaded from www.historians.org/support/give/Pledge_form.pdf.

The campaign committee for the John F. Richards Prize was composed of: Sumit Guha (Rutgers Univ.) chair; Daud S. Ali (Univ. of Pennsylvania); Indrani Chatterjee (Rutgers Univ.); Benjamin Cohen (Univ. of Utah); Frank Conlon (Univ. of Washington); Richard M. Eaton (Univ. of Arizona); Munis Faruqui (Univ. of California, Berkeley); David Gilmartin (North Carolina State Univ.); Peter H. Hoffenberg (University of Hawaii); Bruce B. Lawrence (Duke Univ.); John McNeill (Georgetown Univ.); Thomas R. Metcalf (Univ. of California, Berkeley); Barbara Ramusack (Univ. of Cincinnati); Anupama Rao (Barnard Coll.); Yasmin Saikia (Univ. of North Carolina); Sanjay Subrahmanyam (UCLA); Cynthia Talbot (Univ. of Texas at Austin); Ron Witt (Duke Univ.); Stanley Wolpert (UCLA); Chitralekha Zutshi (Coll. of William and Mary).

—RBT