Cohn Prize

Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize

The Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize honors outstanding and innovative scholarship across discipline and country of specialization for a first single-authored monograph on South Asia, published during the preceding year. Books nominated may address either contemporary or historical topics in any field of the humanities or the social sciences related to any of the countries of South Asia: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal in the spirit of Barney Cohn’s broad and critical scholarship on culture and history in South Asia.


$1,000 award for the author.

Guidelines for Submission

  • Books must have a 2020 copyright date.
  • Prior publication of an edited volume, exhibition catalog, or translations without critical apparatus does not necessarily disqualify authors.
  • Publishers must complete the book nomination form. Each press may nominate a maximum of six books for the Cohn Prize.
  • Only publishers may nominate books.
  • Upon receipt of a completed nomination form, publishers will be provided with addresses for prize committee members. A copy of each entry, clearly labeled “Bernard S. Cohn Prize,” must be sent to each member of the committee.


Nominations must be received by July 15, 2021 to be eligible for the 2022 awards.

Cohn Prize Committee

Sarah Pinto (Chair)
Tufts University

Nosheen Ali
New York University

Sohini Kar
London School of Economics

2021 Award

Winner and Citation

Cover of Nosheen Ali, Delusional States: Feeling Rule and Development in Pakistan’s Northern Frontier

Nosheen Ali, Delusional States: Feeling Rule and Development in Pakistan’s Northern Frontier. Cambridge University Press, 2019.

Ali’s powerful and compelling study draws us into the felt ethical-political struggles of everyday life in the “conflict zone” of Gilgit-Baltistan, her portrait of the region reflecting its inhabitants’ strongly-voiced desires for inclusion in the Pakistani state on their own terms, against dominant, “delusional” narratives about the region that stem from hegemonic Pakistani nationalism and U.S. imperialism. Drawing on ethnographic and written sources, the book makes a major contribution to theoretical approaches across disciplines, using feeling and affect to successfully bridge the micro- and macro-level aspects of politics as lived. Ali’s skillful analysis of maps, textbooks, conservation strategies, poetry, and outsiders’ “delusional” narratives about the region beautifully, poignantly, and pointedly expresses the residents’ quest to have their humanity and dignity recognized in a militarized world. Delusional States is a resonant and timely contribution to the interpretive social sciences of political life, with implications far beyond its geographic and disciplinary locations. It is thus a fitting recipient of the 2021 Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize.