Smith Prize

E. Gene Smith Inner Asia Book Prize

Named to honor the distinguished scholar of Tibet, Mongolia, and other areas of Inner Asia, the E. Gene Smith Book Prize, offered biennially, honors outstanding and innovative scholarship across discipline and country of specialization for a book on Inner Asia.

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 and regions in the wide swath of Asia stretching from the eastern border of Afghanistan to Mongolia, i.e., Tibet, Xinjiang or Mongolia, including peoples coming recently from those areas.


$1,000 award for the author.

Guidelines for Submission

  • Only books bearing a copyright date of 2021 or 2022 will be eligible for the 2024 awards.
  • Publishers must complete the book nomination form.
  • Each press may nominate a maximum of six books for the Smith 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 “E. Gene Smith Inner Asia Book Prize,” must be sent to each member of the appropriate committee.


The nomination deadline has passed. Award recipients will be announced in early 2024.

Smith Prize Committee

Charlene Makley (Chair)
Reed College

Gardner Bovingdon
Indiana University

David Robinson
Colgate University

2022 Awards

Winner and Citation

Cover of Melvyn Goldstein, A History of Modern Tibet

Melvyn C. Goldstein, A History of Modern Tibet, Volume 4: In the Eye of the Storm, 1957-1959 (University of California Press, 2019); Chinese translation published by Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 2021.

In this massive tome, the fourth and final volume in Mel Goldstein’s magisterial History of Modern Tibet, the author unfolds the events that led to the Lhasa Uprising of 1959, and what Goldstein calls the “End of Old Tibet.” Goldstein ably demonstrates that the decisions undertaken by the major political actors of the era, including the Dalai Lama, Mao Zedong, and many others, ultimately generated an outcome that no one really wanted. Goldstein’s meticulous handling of an impressive range of actors in this distressing drama, including Tibetans, Chinese, and Americans, leaves the reader and the specialist not only with much to think about, but also with many new available materials to explore further. The author’s nuanced and unprejudiced descriptions and analyses rely on an unprecedented wealth of primary sources in multiple languages (primarily Tibetan and Chinese), both oral and written, collected over many years, and overcoming countless challenges, many of them also available online through the Tibetan Oral History Archive Project. With this volume, Goldstein has achieved a remarkable feat.

Honorable Mention

Brenton Sullivan, Building a Religious Empire: Tibetan Buddhism, Bureaucracy, and the Rise of the Gelukpa (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020)

Past Awards

E. Gene Smith Inner Asia Book Prize

2013 Jacob Dalton, The Taming of the Demons: Violence and Liberation in Tibetan Buddhism

2014 Claire E. Harris, The Museum on the Roof of the World: Art, Politics, and the Representation of Tibet

2015 Emily Yeh, Taming Tibet: Landscape Transformation and the Gift of Chinese Development

2016 Sarah Jacoby, Love and Liberation: The Autobiographical Writings of the Tibetan Buddhist Visionary Sera Kandro

2017 Janet Gyatso, Being Human in a Buddhist World: An Intellectual History of Medicine in Early Modern Tibet

2018 Tom Cliff, Oil and Water: Being Han in Xinjiang

2020 Max Oidtmann, Forging the Golden Urn: The Qing Empire and the Politics of Reincarnation in Tibet