Asia Society Announces Winner of 2009 Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award

New York, September 18, 2009 -  Asia Society today announced the winner of the first annual Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award.  The jury selected Duncan McCargo’s Tearing Apart the Land: Islam and Legitimacy in Southern Thailand (Cornell University Press, 2008) from among five finalists.  Professor McCargo will receive a $20,000 prize and be honored at an Asia Society event in New York in the fall.  

Jury co-chairs Professor Carol Gluck and Ambassador Tommy Koh praised the jury’s selection of this book, chosen from a pool of over 65 books considered for this year’s prize.  “This vivid on-the-ground account of the Thai insurgency shows how national politics, rather than minority religion, drives the violence that is too often ascribed either to ethnicity or Islam.  This is a lesson that applies not only to Southeast Asia but to many parts of the world,” said Professor Gluck. Ambassador Koh called the book a “worthy winner based on solid research about an insurgency with global implications.”

Written by one of the world's leading scholars on Thailand today, Tearing Apart the Land examines the violent separatist insurgency that has raged in southern Thailand since 2004 and has resulted in more than three thousand deaths.  Duncan McCargo is Professor of Southeast Asian Politics at the University of Leeds.

“We are delighted to award the inaugural Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award to such an important and superbly researched work.  We hope this award will help raise awareness about this critical region of the world, while contributing to the understanding of insurgency and minority movements more broadly,” said Asia Society President Vishakha N. Desai.

The Asia Society Bernard Schwartz Book Award is an annual award that recognizes nonfiction books offering outstanding contributions and new perspectives in understanding contemporary Asia or U.S.-Asia relations. In keeping with the Asia Society’s mission, the award is designed to further public awareness of the changes taking place in Asia and the implications for the wider world, and to raise the profile of authors making a meaningful contribution to this dialogue.

In addition to the winner, four books received honorary mentions:

William W. Grimes
Currency and Contest in East Asia: The Great Power Politics of Financial Regionalism
(Cornell University Press)

David M. Lampton
The Three Faces of Chinese Power: Might, Money, and Minds (University of CA press)

Philip P. Pan
Out of Mao's Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China (Simon & Schuster)

Ahmed Rashid
Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of Nation Building in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia (Penguin Group USA)

2009 Jury Members

Carol Gluck (Co-chair)
George Sansom Professor of History, Columbia University

Tommy T.B. Koh (Co-chair)
Ambassador-At-Large, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri
Senior Editor, Hindustan Times

Han Sung-Joo
Professor Emeritus, Korea University; Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, ROK

C. Raja Mohan
Professor, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

Andrew J. Nathan
Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

Kazuo Ogoura
President, Japan Foundation

Martha Brill Olcott
Senior Associate, Russian & Eurasian Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Susan Shirk
Director, University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation, UC-San Diego

M. Hadi Soesastro
Senior Fellow, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta;
Adjunct Professor, The Australian National University, Canberra

Simon Tay
Bernard Schwartz Fellow (2008-2009), Asia Society;
Chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs;
Professor, National University of Singapore

For additional information on the award, please visit the Bernard Schwartz Book Award web page.

About Asia Society
Asia Society is the leading global organization working to strengthen relationships and promote understanding among the people, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the United States. We seek to enhance dialogue, encourage creative expression, and generate new ideas across the fields of policy, business, education, arts, and culture. Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Asia Society is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational institution with offices in Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, Seoul, and Washington, DC.