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2017 Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize

The Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize is awarded by the Women’s Caucus of the African Studies Association for an outstanding book published by a woman that prioritizes African women’s experiences. Named in honor of Ama Ata Aidoo, the celebrated Ghanaian novelist and short-story writer, and Margaret Snyder, the founding Director of UNIFEM, this $500 prize seeks to acknowledge the excellence of contemporary scholarship being produced by women about African women.

The 2017 Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize winner is Carina Ray for her book, Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana. Carina Ray is an associate professor of African and Afro-American Studies at Brandeis University. A scholar of race and sexuality, comparative colonialisms and nationalisms, migration and maritime history, and the relationship between race, ethnicity, and political power, Carina’s research is primarily focused on Ghana and its diasporas. The book is also the recipient of the American Historical Association’s 2016 Wesley-Logan Book Prize for African Diaspora History, and finalist for the United Kingdom African Studies Association’s Fage and Oliver Prize. Carina Ray’s work has also appeared in Gender and History, PMLA, The American Historical Review, and Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historique.

Crossing the Color Line: Race, Sex, and the Contested Politics of Colonialism in Ghana is an exemplar of excellent research that addresses issues of race in relationships that occurred in the colonial era, but have contemporary relevance. This book brings the intersections of race and gender to the fore. The analysis shows the co-evolution of race and gender politics in both the metropole and the colony. The treatment of race in colonial Ghana remains highly topical, since socio-economic and political relations in the US colony and other similarly situated countries can be read through the analysis done in the book. Carina Ray is to be commended also for using archives in Ghana in addition to sources outside the African continent.

Carina’s new book project, a trilogy, engages conceptions of blackness, the body, and human difference, as well as processes of race-making and identity transformation across the precolonial, colonial, and post-independence periods in Ghana. She is the editor, with Toyin Falola, of the newly established book series, African Identities, with Cambridge University Press, and currently serves as the editor, with Kofi Baku, of Ghana Studies, and is a member of the Board of Editors of The American Historical Review and History in Africa.

Honorable Mentions for the 2017 Aidoo-Snyder Award

Jeanne Marie Penvenne, Professor of History, and core faculty in International Relations, Africana and Women, and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Tufts University, for Women, Migration & the Cashew Economy in Southern Mozambique: 1945-1975. This book is an analysis of the lives and livelihoods of the female cashew shellers in Mozambique’s capital in the colonial era, during which the industry grew to be a major export, and relates how the women played a fundamental, but previously underappreciated, role in the colony’s economy. This book demonstrates that Mozambique’s cashew economy depended fundamentally on women’s work and should be understood as “whole cloth”. Drawing on over 100 interviews, the rich narratives convey layered histories: the rural crises that triggered the flight of women, their lives as factory workers, widespread payment and wage fraud, the formation of innovative urban families, and the health costs that all African families paid for municipal neglect of their neighbourhoods.

Aili Mari Tripp, Wangari Maathai Professor of Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison, for Women and Power in Postconflict Africa. This book explains an unexpected consequence of the decrease in conflict in Africa after the 1990s. Analysis of cross-national data and in-depth comparisons of case studies of Uganda, Liberia, and Angola show that post-conflict countries have significantly higher rates of women’s political representation in legislatures and government compared with countries that have not undergone major conflict. They have also passed more legislative reforms and made more constitutional changes relating to women’s rights. The study explains how and why these patterns emerged, tying these outcomes to the conjuncture of the rise of women’s movements, changes in international women’s rights norms, and, most importantly, gender disruptions that occur during war. This book will help scholars, students, women’s rights activists, international donors, policy makers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and others better understand some of the circumstances that are most conducive to women’s rights reform today and why.

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