Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies Award

The AAS Award for Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies represents the highest honor the AAS can bestow.

Originally named the “Award for Distinguished Service,” in 1992 it was renamed the “AAS Award for Distinguished Contributions to Asian Studies.” It is intended to honor outstanding scholarship and service to the field. The award follows the same rotational pattern by area that is used for other nominations. The sitting President (corresponding to the council submitting nominations for the award) traditionally has had the most input in determining the award, which ultimately is approved by the AAS Board.

2023 Honoree: Richard M. Eaton

Richard M. Eaton is Professor of History (University of Arizona, 1972-present) and the leading scholar of early modern South Asia. Dr. Eaton’s research focuses on the social and cultural history of pre-modern India (1000-1800), and especially on the range of historical interactions between Iran and India, and on Islam in South Asia. Eaton’s first landmark study Sufis of Bijapur, 1300- 1700: Social Roles of Sufis in Medieval India (1978) was methodologically innovative in considering texts emerging from within or about Sufi households alongside legal declarations and historical narratives. His second monograph took him from Deccan to the Bengal—The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204-1760 (1993) created a sociological approach to the study of conversion. He wrote many of the key studies on contentious issues of temple destruction, Muslim kingship, Perisan historiography; an important social history of the Deccan from 1300 to 1761, and in 2014, he co-authored Power, Memory, Architecture: Contested Sites on India’s Deccan Plateau, 1300-1600 with Philip Waggoner. Most recently, he has published a textbook on India’s middle period titled India in the Persianate Age, 1000-1765 (Penguin books, 2020). 

Professor Eaton’s scholarship is defined by methodological innovations— the use of material, architectural, archeological, prosographical and quantitative data along with literary and historical analysis. He is also a consummate collaborator doing major studies with colleagues located in US and in India. Professor Eaton is a generous mentor for early career scholars and a stalwart presence at professional conferences such as AAS, AHA and the annual gathering of South Asianists at Madison, WI. 

His storied career illustrates his sustained commitment and care for the nurturing of South Asian histories in the U.S. and around the world. 

Previous Honorees

Full citations for honorees from 1998 to 2018 can be read here.

2022: Anna Tsing

2021: Nancy Abelmann (posthumous), Norma M. Field

2020: Patricia Buckley Ebrey

2019: Sylvia Jane Vatuk

2018: David Chandler

2017: James L. Huffman

2016: Lyman Van Slyke

2015: Frederick M. Asher

2014: Charnvit Kasetsiri

2013: David Plath

2012: Charlotte Furth

2011: Sumit Sarkar

2010: Anthony J.S. Reid

2009: Martina Deuchler

2008: Zhang Zhongli

2007: John F. Richards

2006: Taufik Abdullah

2005: Edwin McClellan

2004: Cho-Yun Hsu

2003: Romila Thapar

2002: Jane Richardson Hanks

2001: James B. Palais

2000: Ono Kazuko

1999: Eleanor Zelliot

1998: Benedict Anderson

1997: Eleanor Hadley

1996: K. C. Chang

1995: Joseph W. Elder

1994: Lian Tie Kho

1993: Maruyama Masao

1992: Wing-tsit Chan

1991: Edward C. Dimock, Jr.

1990: Oliver William Wolters

1989: Francis B. Tenny

1988: Eugene Wu

1987: Clifford Geertz, John K. Galbraith, Catherine A. Galbraith

1986: Ronald Philip Dore, Maureen L.P. Patterson

1985: Derk Bodde, J. William Fulbright

1984: Milton B. Singer, Francis X. Sutton