Sumie Jones Prize for Project Leadership in Japan-centered Humanities

The Association for Asian Studies and the Northeast Asia Council (NEAC) are grateful to Sumie Jones, Professor Emerita at Indiana University and an AAS member for more than 45 years, for providing the resources, leadership, and inspiration for the establishment of the Sumie Jones Prize for Project Leadership in Japan-centered Humanities.

The mission of the prize is to recognize and honor scholars who work collaboratively with others to promote impactful projects in the Japanese humanities in the U.S. and/or Canada. Humanities projects eligible for the prize include the following kinds of collaborative work:

  • Edited volumes of scholarship in English on the humanities, including anthologies. (Please note, however, that books published by AAS are not eligible for AAS prizes.)
  • Conferences held in the U.S. and/or Canada with international participation on any topic in the Japan-centered humanities.
  • Art exhibits, typically organized by a curator.
  • Musical or theatrical performances; for example, bringing English-speaking kabuki to audiences across the United States. (This would exclude something like bringing a single Japanese performer for a concert tour or awarding one or more commercial performances.)
  • A series of workshops culminating in a print publication or a well-developed website that offers substantive resources or pedagogical materials. (Standalone websites are not eligible.)

AAS hopes to award the prize every year, and the next call for nominations will be issued in spring 2024. Nomination should come from a departmental chair, a research center director, a museum director, a publisher’s editor, a public foundation’s advising staff, or some other person in the position of supervising and supporting the project. Projects need to have been completed in the U.S. and/or Canada within the two years prior to the nomination date. Nominations should be accompanied by a narrative that addresses the suitability of the project for the prize by describing the project, detailing the nature of collaboration, stating its impact on Japan-centered humanities, and indicating the completeness of the project. This narrative will usually be composed by the nominee. Nominations for edited collections or for projects involving exhibit catalogs should either include a PDF of the collection/catalog or a URL where an open-access version can be viewed. Nominations involving digital outputs should include active links showcasing key aspects of the project. Previously nominated projects that did not win can be renominated one time.

NEAC will award a prize in the amount of $3,000 to the director(s) of the project; a project director could be the editor of a collaborative book by multiple authors, a lead curator of a museum exhibit, a director of a theatrical production, etc. There may not be an award every year, but two full prizes in two different categories—for example, a book project and an art exhibition—may be given during the same year. Up to two persons can be awarded as directors of a project, in which case the award to each individual would be $1,500. Directors of respective projects should be responsible for the selection, mobilization, coordination, and management of the work of multiple participants.

We welcome nominations for innovative forms of scholarship, collaborative work from historically marginalized communities, or project leadership under adverse conditions.

Information about nominating prizes for consideration in the 2025 competition will be posted in spring 2024.

2024 Prizes

The 2024 Sumie Jones Prize for Project Leadership in Japan-centered Humanities was awarded to Dr. Jaroslaw Kapuscinski (Stanford University) and Dr. Takanori Fujita (Kyoto City University of Arts) for their leadership of “Performing Intermedia in Japan,” a project involving a symposium, a series of performance events, and the lasting legacy of a rich website of intermedia pedagogical materials concerning Noh performance. The project was a collaboration between faculty in the U.S. and Japan, librarians, and Noh actors from the Kongo school.

Honorable mentions were awarded to:

  • Dr. Julie Nelson Davis (University of Pennsylvania) and Dr. Lynne Farrington (University of Pennsylvania) for their leadership of “Arthur Tress and the Illustrated Japanese Book,” a project involving a series of workshops on reading kuzushiji, a symposium on Japanese book history, an exhibit, and a catalog of materials reflecting collaboration between librarians, faculty, graduate students, and private collectors.
  • Dr. Fuyubi Nakamura (University of British Columbia) for her leadership of “A Future for Memory: Art and Life after the Great East Japan Earthquake,” a project involving a series of community-led projects and bilingual workshops and culminating in a set of bilingual publications (catalog and website). The project was a collaboration between scholars, activists, and community members in North American and Japan.