CESS Book Award

On this page
Call for submissions for the 2018 Book Awards Competition
2017 Book Award Winner
Announcement of the 2017 Book Award Shortlist

2016 Book Award Winner
Past Recipients of the CESS Book Award

Call for submissions for the 2018 Book Awards Competition


In 2007, the Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS) established two CESS Book Awards, one for work in History and the Humanities and another for work in the Social Sciences. These awards had been given in alternate years. Beginning in 2018, CESS will present awards to books in both the Social Sciences and History and the Humanities.

The CESS Book Award and a monetary prize of $500 is presented to the author of the book or monograph that represents the most important contribution to Central Eurasian studies during the award period. An interdisciplinary panel of three scholars of Central Eurasia, appointed annually by the CESS Board, consider scholarly merit, argumentative scope, and felicity of style in their deliberations.

In addition, CESS will also award an Honorable Mention to submissions that were highly rated by the panel.

In 2018, books in History and Humanities with a publication date of 2017 may be considered for the competition. The panel will consist of Barbara Junisbai (Pitzer College), Sarah Cameron (University of Maryland), and Joo-Yup Lee (University of Oxford) with Wendell Schwab (Pennsylvania State University) as non-voting chair.  

In 2018, books in the Social Sciences with a publication date of 2016 or 2017 (to ensure every book can be eligible in at least one competition) may be considered for the competition. The panel will consist of Benjamin Gatling (George Mason University), Ali Igmen (California State University - Long Beach), and Noor O’Neill Borbieva (Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne) with Wendell Schwab (Pennsylvania State University) as non-voting chair.

The shortlist will be announced in July and the winner will be announced at the 19th CESS Annual Conference at the University of Pittsburgh on October 25-28, 2018.

Rules and procedures for the competition are as follows:

  1. Books must be scholarly monographs based on original research and published in English during the years listed above (as measured by the printed copyright date; exceptions for books available by the submission deadline may be allowed at the discretion of the chair).
  2. Books may be submitted for one competition only, and no book may be considered more than once.
  3. Scholarly monographs translated into English from other languages are eligible for consideration.
  4. Edited volumes, new editions of previously published books, bibliographies, dictionaries, and textbooks are not eligible.
  5. Nominations may be made by either the publisher, author, or a CESS member.
  6. The winning author will receive the monetary prize and a certificate of award at an awards ceremony held at the annual CESS conference.

For the 2018 CESS Book Awards competition, please ensure that four copies of the nominated book reach the CESS Book Award Committee at the following addresses by April 1, 2018.

Please note that one book must be sent to each of the following addresses.

History and the Humanities

Barbara Junisbai, Ph.D.
Pitzer College, 1050 N Mills Ave, Claremont, CA 91711, USA

Joo-Yup Lee, Ph.D.
11 Dervock Crescent, #31, Toronto, ON, M2K 1A6, Canada

Sarah Cameron, Ph.D.
Department of History, University of Maryland-College Park, 2115 Francis Scott Key Hall, College Park, MD 20742, USA

Wendell Schwab, Ph.D.
Division of Undergraduate Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, 128 Grange Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA

Social Sciences

Benjamin Gatling, Ph.D.
4400 University Dr., MS 3E4, Fairfax, VA 22030, USA

Ali Igmen, Ph.D.
California State University, Long Beach, Department of History, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., FO2-116, Long Beach CA 90840, USA

Noor O’Neill Borbieva, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, 2101 E. Coliseum Blvd., Kettler Hall G11D, Fort Wayne, IN 46805, USA 

Wendell Schwab, Ph.D.
Division of Undergraduate Studies, The Pennsylvania State University, 128 Grange Building, University Park, PA 16802, USA

Please address any enquiries and questions regarding eligibility to Wendell Schwab, wts11@psu.edu.


2017 Book Award Winner

2017 Best Book Award winner Joo-Yup Lee receiving his award from Dr David Montgomery, member of the Awards CommitteeWe are delighted to announce that the winner of the CESS 2017 Book Award is Joo-Yup Lee for his 2016 book Qazaqlïq, or Ambitious Brigandage, and the Formation of the Qazaqs: State and Identity in Post-Mongol Central Eurasia

The Best Book Award Committee commented on their choice as follows: 

This is the first book to comprehensively cover the emergence of Kazakh identities within the broader cultural and political context of Central Eurasia. It avoids the pitfall of projecting national identity back in time, and shows what early Kazakhs thought made them distinct from other groups. He brings places such as Ukraine through the Cossack Hetmanate into a much larger Central Eurasian world by focusing on a Central Eurasian institution (qazaqliq). Lee’s book is concise, very clearly written, engaging, and easy to read, even though it tackles a vast geographical area, a number of ethnic groups, and a premodern time period with which many people are not familiar. The work is incredibly impressive in terms of the breadth of research and the multilingual nature of the sources, both primary and secondary. It is a true exemplar of Central Eurasian studies, tracing a Central Asian institution (ambitious brigandage) as far west as Ukraine (the Cossack Hetmanate). It is also provocative - and Lee is clear about where his arguments and interpretations are building on or conflicting with the interpretations of other scholars, which makes it a welcome addition to the field.


Announcement of the 2017 Book Award Shortlist

The shortlist for the CESS book award is announced.  The 2017 award will be awarded to a book in history and humanities published in 2015 or 2016. 

The short-listed books are:

Brophy, David. 2016. Uyghur Nation: Reform and Revolution on the Russia-China Frontier. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Epkenhans, Tim. 2016. The Origins of the Civil War in Tajikistan: Nationalism, Islamism, and Violent Conflict in Post-Soviet Space. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.

Gould, Rebecca. 2016. Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Jacobson-Tepfer, Esther. 2015. The Hunter, the Stag, and the Mother of Animals: Image, Monument, and Landscape in Ancient North Asia. New York: Oxford University Press.

Kassymbekova, Botakoz. 2016. Despite Cultures: Early Soviet Rule in Tajikistan. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Khalid, Adeeb. 2015. Making Uzbekistan: Nation, Empire, and Revolution in the Early USSR. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Lee, Joo-Yup. 2016. Qazaqlïq, or Ambitious Brigandage, and the Formation of the Qazaqs: State and Identity in Post-Mongol Central Eurasia. Leiden: Brill.

Nunan, Timothy. 2016. Humanitarian Invasion: Global Development in Cold War Afghanistan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Scott, Erik R. 2016. Familiar Strangers: The Georgian Diaspora and the Evolution of Soviet Empire. New York: Oxford University Press.

The book award panel is comprised of Jesse Driscoll, Maya Peterson, and Wendell Schwab, with David Montgomery acting as the non-voting chair.

CESS 2016 Book Award Winner

CESS is delighted to announce that the winner of the 2016 Book Award for the best book in the social sciences published in 2014 or 2015 is Jesse Driscoll for his book Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States. Selected comments from the panel members about Driscoll's book:

"This book is valuable not only for its central argument about warlords as state-builders, but for its extremely detailed account of how warlords and supporters operate: their beliefs, motivations, strategies, and methods, both current and historical."

"Driscoll develops a game theoretic model that seeks to explain why actors behave the way they do. In this way, the book makes an enduring contribution to theory... He takes this a step further and embarks on ethnographic work that allows him to discuss causal mechanisms in a way that is extremely sensitive to the region..."

"It is a book that will endure through the years, making a foundational contribution to our understanding of why civil conflicts end... This book reflects outstanding scholarship."

Many congratulations to Jesse! Our thanks also go to the other shortlisted candidates. 

Past Recipients of the Book Award

History and Humanities

2015 – Rian ThumThe Sacred Routes of Uyghur History. Harvard University Press, 2014.

2013 – Patricia Crone. The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran: Rural Revolt and Local ZoroastrianismCambridge University Press, 2012.

2011 – Paul StronskiTashkent: Forging a Soviet City, 1930-1966University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010.

2009 – Jeff SahadeoRussian Colonial Society in Tashkent, 1865-1923Indiana University Press, 2007.

2007 – Marianne Kamp. The New Woman in Uzbekistan: Islam, Modernity, and Unveiling under CommunismUniversity of Washington Press, 2006.

Social Sciences

2016 Jesse DriscollWarlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States. Cambridge University Press, 2015.

2014 – Morgan LiuUnder Solomon's Throne: Uzbek Visions of Renewal in OshUniversity of Pittsburgh Press, 2012.

2012 – Johan RasanayagamIslam in Post-Soviet Uzbekistan: The Morality of Experience. Cambridge University Press, 2010.

2010 – Laura AdamsThe Spectacular State: Culture and National Identity in UzbekistanDuke University Press, 2010.
2008 – Kathleen CollinsClan Politics and Regime Transition in Central Asia. Cambridge University Press, 2006.