Levenson Prize

Joseph Levenson Prize – Pre-1900 and Post-1900

The Merlin Foundation, established by the late Audrey Sheldon, has provided for the two awards, one for works whose main focus is on China before 1900 and the other for works on post-1900 China. The prizes will be awarded to the English-language books that make the greatest contribution to increasing understanding of the history, culture, society, politics, or economy of China. In keeping with the broad scholarly interests of Joseph Levenson, special consideration will be given to books that, through comparative insights or groundbreaking research, promote the relevance of scholarship on China to the wider world of intellectual discourse

2025 Prizes

The AAS East and Inner Asia Council will offer two $1,000 Joseph Levenson Prizes for nonfiction scholarly books on China published in 2023.

$1,000 – Pre-1900 prize winner

$1,000 – Post-1900 prize winner

Guidelines for Submission

  • Works in all disciplines and in all periods of Chinese history are eligible, but anthologies, edited works, and pamphlets will not be considered.
  • Only books bearing a copyright date of 2023 will be eligible for the 2025 awards.
  • Books may only be nominated for one prize competition within each regional category; please see the main Book Prizes page for regional categories.
  • Publishers must complete the book nomination form. Each press may nominate a maximum of three books per Levenson Prize competition (pre-1900 and post-1900 are separate competitions).
  • 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 “Joseph Levenson Prize,” must be sent to each member of the appropriate committee.

Books published by the Association for Asian Studies, Inc. are ineligible for consideration for prizes administered by the Association for Asian Studies. Employees of the Association are excluded from consideration for AAS book prizes, subventions, and grants. Publishers should check with authors to certify that they are not employed by the Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 


The nomination deadline is June 30, 2024.

2025 Pre-1900 Levenson Prize Committee

Lara Blanchard (Chair)
Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Tamara Chin
Brown University

Ruth Mostern
University of Pittsburgh

Post-1900 Committee

Silvia Lindtner (Chair)
University of Michigan

Rana Mitter
Harvard Kennedy School

Shengqing Wu
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

2024 Awards

Pre-1900 Winner and Citation

Susan Naquin, Gods of Mount Tai: Familiarity and the Material Culture of North China, 1000–2000 (Brill)

Covering a thousand years of history, Gods of Mount Tai considers, in astonishing detail, worlds conjured and instantiated by mostly ordinary people—those of Mount Tai and the goddess Bixia yuanjun 碧霞元君. Making these things familiar requires carefully selected methodological paths, drawing on the insights gained by putting the late imperial textual record into dialogue with museum collections and onsite fieldwork. A monument in its own right, Susan Naquin’s lavishly illustrated book examines temples, steles, and icons, giving readers an unprecedented perspective on histories of female deities, regional craftsmanship, and the northern environment of Mount Tai.

Pre-1900 Honorable Mentions

Christian de PeeUrban Life and Intellectual Crisis in Middle-Period China, 800–1100 (Amsterdam University Press)
Lawrence ZhangPower for a Price: The Purchase of Official Appointments in Qing China (Harvard University Asia Center)

Post-1900 Winner and Citation

Ho-fung HungCity on the Edge: Hong Kong Under Chinese Rule (Cambridge University Press)

In City on the Edge: Hong Kong Under Chinese Rule, Ho-fung Hung has produced an authoritative account of the turbulent history of the city. Hung’s detailed, incisive analysis of the 1919 protests and the 2020 repression make the book highly topical, but he develops this analysis as the culmination of a cogent account of the territory’s evolution from the precolonial era, through British colonial rule, and the decades since the 1997 handover. Throughout, he combines an intimate understanding of Hong Kong politics with a masterful grasp of the economic and political developments that have made the city a key commercial and financial link between China and the rest of the world and a focus of geopolitical contestation.

Post-1900 Honorable Mention

Joseph EsherickAccidental Holy Land: The Communist Revolution in Northwest China (University of California Press)

Past Awards

Pre-1900 Category

1987 Frederic Wakeman Jr., The Great Enterprise: The Manchu Reconstruction of Imperial Order in Seventeenth Century China

1988 Robert Hymes, Statesmen and Gentlemen: The Elite of Fu-Chou Chiang-Hsi, in Northern and Southern Sung

1989 Andrew H. Plaks, The Four Masterworks of the Ming Novel

1990 Patrick Hanan, The Invention of Li Yu

1991 Wu Hung, The Wu Liang Shrine: The Ideology of Early Chinese Pictorial Art

1992 Philip A. Kuhn, Soulstealers: The Chinese Sorcery Scare of 1768

1993 Martin J. Powers, Art and Political Expression in Early China

1994 Jing Wang, The Story of Stone: Intertextuality, Ancient Chinese Stone Lore, and the Stone Symbolism of Dream of the Red Chamber, Water Margin, and The Journey to the West

1995 Patricia Ebrey, The Inner Quarters: Women and Marriage in Sung Dynasty China

1996 Stephen F. Teiser, Scripture on the Ten Kings and the Making of Purgatory in Medieval Chinese Buddhism

1997 James L. Hevia, Cherishing Men from Afar: Qing Guest Ritual and the Macartney Embassy of 1793

1998 Maggie Bickford, Ink Plum: The Making of a Scholar-Painting Genre

1999 Susan L. Mann, Precious Records: Women in China’s Long Eighteenth Century

2000 Timothy Brook, The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China

2001 Pamela Kyle Crossley, The Translucent Mirror: History and Identity in Qing Imperial Ideology

2002 Lothar Ledderose, Ten Thousand Things

2003 David Schaberg, A Patterned Past: Form and Thought in Early Chinese Historiography

2004 Robert Hymes, Way and Byway: Taoism, Local Religion, and Models of Divinity in Sung and Modern China

2005 John Makeham, Transmitters and Creators: Chinese Commentators and Commentaries on the Analects

2006 Antonia Mary Finnane, Speaking of Yangzhou: A Chinese City, 1550-1850

2007 Peter Perdue, China Marches West: The Qing Conquest of Central Eurasia

2008 Martin J. Powers, Pattern and Person: Ornament, Society, and Self in Classical China

2009 Anthony Barbieri-Low, Artisans in Early Imperial China

2010 Robert E. Harrist Jr., The Landscape of Words: Stone Inscriptions from Early and Medieval China

2011 Eugenio Menegon, Ancestors, Virgins and Friars: Christianity as a Local Religion in Late Imperial China

2012 Christopher M. B. Nugent, Manifest in Words, Written on Paper: Producing and Circulating Poetry in Tang Dynasty China

2013 Dagmar Schäfer, The Crafting of 10,000 Things: Knowledge and Technology in Seventeenth Century China

2014 Andrea S. Goldman, Opera and the City: The Politics of Culture in Beijing, 1770-1900

2015 Yuming He, Home and the World: Editing the “Glorious Ming” in Woodblock-Printed Books of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

2016 Wai-yee Li, Women and National Trauma in Late Imperial Chinese Literature

2017 Ping Foong, The Efficacious Landscape: On the Authorities of Painting at the Northern Song Court

2018 Li Chen, Chinese Law in Imperial Eyes: Sovereignty, Justice, and Transcultural Politics

2019 Jonathan Schlesinger, A World Trimmed with Fur: Wild Things, Pristine Places, and the Natural Fringes of Qing Rule

2020 Lara Blanchard, Song Dynasty Figures of Longing and Desire: Gender and Interiority in Chinese Painting and Poetry

2021 Stephen Owen, Just a Song: Chinese Lyrics from the Eleventh and Early Twelfth Centuries

2022 Robert Ford CampanyThe Chinese Dreamscape 300 BCE–800 CE

2023 Ruth MosternThe Yellow River: A Natural and Unnatural History; Honorable Mention, Tao JiangOrigins of Moral-Political Philosophy in Early China

Post-1900 Category

1987 Andrew J. Nathan, Chinese Democracy

1988 Andrew G. Walder, Communist Neo-Traditionalism: Work and Authority in Chinese Industry

1989 Joseph W. Esherick, The Origins of the Boxer Uprising

1990 Prasenjit Duara, Culture, Power, and the State: Rural North China, 1900-1942

1991 David Strand, Rickshaw Beijing: City People and Politics in the 1920s

1992 Philip C. C. Huang, The Peasant Family and Rural Development in the Yangzi Delta, 1350-1988

1993 Edward Friedman, Paul G. Pickowicz, and Mark Selden, Chinese Village/Socialist State

1994 Gregor Benton, Mountain Fires: The Red Army’s Three-Year War in South China, 1934-1938

1995 Vaclav Smil, China’s Environmental Crisis: An Inquiry into the Limits of National Development

1996 Julia F. Andrews, Painters and Politics in the People’s Republic of China, 1949-1979

1997 Keith Schoppa, Blood Road: The Mystery of Shen Dingyi in Revolutionary China

1998 John J. Fitzgerald, Awakening China: Politics, Culture, and Class in the Nationalist Revolution

1999 Roderick MacFarquhar, The Origins of the Cultural Revolution, vol. 3: The Coming of the Cataclysm, 1961-66

2000 Lynn T. White III, Unstately Power: Volume I: Local Causes of China’s Economic Reforms

2001 Dorothy Solinger, Contesting Citizenship in Urban China: Peasants, Migrants, the State, and the Logic of the Market

2002 Edward J.M. Rhoads, Manchus and Han: Ethnic Relations and Political Power in Late Qing and Early Republican China, 1861-1928

2003 Lucien Bianco, Peasants Without the Party: Grass-roots Movements in 20th Century China

2004 Geremie Barmé, An Artistic Exile: A Life of Feng Zikai (1898-1975)

2005 Yan Yunxiang, Private Life Under Socialism: Love, Intimacy, and Family Changes in a Chinese Village, 1949-1999

2006 Ruth Rogaski, Hygienic Modernity: Meanings of Health and Disease in Treaty-Port China

2007 Michael Dutton, Policing Chinese Politics: A History

2008 Sherman Cochran, Chinese Medicine Men: Consumer Culture in China and Southeast Asia

2009 Haiyan Lee, Revolution of the Heart: A Genealogy of Love in China, 1900-1950

2010 Susan Greenhalgh, Just One Child: Science and Policy in Deng’s China

2011 Jacob Eyferth, Eating Rice from Bamboo Roots: The Social History of a Community of Artisans in Southwest China, 1920-2000

2012 Yomi Braester, Painting the City Red: Chinese Cinema and the Urban Contract

2013 Vincent Goossaert and David A. Palmer, The Religious Question in Modern China

2014 Joseph Allen, Taipei: City of Displacements

2015 Winnie Won Yin Wong, Van Gogh on Demand: China and the Readymade

2016 Luigi Tomba, The Government Next Door: Neighborhood Politics in Urban China

2017 Christopher Rea, The Age of Irreverence: A New History of Laughter in China

2018 Sigrid Schmalzer, Red Revolution, Green Revolution: Scientific Farming in Socialist China

2019 Ching Kwan Lee, The Specter of Global China: Politics, Labor, and Foreign Investment in Africa

2020 Sasha Welland, Experimental Beijing. Gender and Globalization in Chinese Contemporary Art

2021 Joel Andreas, Disenfranchised: The Rise and Fall of Industrial Citizenship in China

2022 Silvia M. LindtnerPrototype Nation: China and the Contested Promise of Innovation 

2023 Joshua GoldsteinRemains of the Everyday: A Century of Recycling in Beijing; Honorable Mention, Nicole WillockLineages of the Literary: Tibetan Buddhist Polymaths of Socialist China

The AAS Secretariat will be closed on Monday, May 27 in observance of Memorial Day