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.

2022 Honoree: Anna Tsing

Anna Tsing
Anna Tsing

Anna Tsing is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Her work on Indonesia and Global Asias is widely read not only in Asian Studies and anthropology, but also in many other disciplines.

Professor Tsing’s latest book The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins (Princeton University Press, 2015) is a part of a fascinating multi-sited team research in China, Japan, and the United States, for which she served as the intellectual leader. Tracing the commodity chain of the matsutake mushroom, it is an ethnographically rich exploration of the interaction between human beings in different parts of the world and the natural environment. The Mushroom at the End of the World follows her widely acclaimed second book Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connections (Princeton University Press, 2004) in which she examines large-scale forest destruction, and the conflicting interactions between global investors, environmentalists, and local people in the rain forest of South Kalimantan, Indonesia.  This book is widely read not only in Anthropology and Asian Studies, but also in critical theory, environmental studies, political economy, among other areas. Anna Tsing has received the Senior Book Award from the American Ethnological Society, and the Victor Turner and Gregory Bateson prizes for these two books. These accolades followed the Benda prize from AAS in 1994 for her first book In the Realm of the Diamond Queen: Marginality in an Out-of-the-Way Place. In 2018, Anna Tsing received the Huxley Memorial Medal from the Royal Anthropological Institute in the United Kingdom.

Anna Tsing is a Southeast Asianist with an intellectual impact well beyond Southeast Asian Studies. She strongly deserves the DCAS award from AAS.

Previous Honorees

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

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