UC Press is proud to publish award-winning authors and books across many disciplines. Below are several of our February 2024 award winners. Please join us in celebrating these scholars by sharing the news!

Reyhan Durmaz

2023 Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Historical Studies, Winner

2023 Best First Book in the History of Religions, Finalist
American Academy of Religion

Reyhan Durmaz is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and co-translator of Jacob of Sarug’s Homilies on Women Whom Jesus Met.

Stories between Christianity and Islam: Saints, Memory, and Cultural Exchange in Late Antiquity and Beyond

Stories between Christianity and Islam offers an original and nuanced understanding of Christian–Muslim relations that shifts focus from discussions of superiority, conflict, and appropriation to the living world of connectivity and creativity. Here, the late antique and medieval Near East is viewed as a world of stories shared by Christians and Muslims. Public storytelling was a key feature for these late antique Christian and early Islamic communities, where stories of saints were used to interpret the past, comment on the present, and envision the future.

Mary F.E. Ebeling

2023 Surveillance Studies Network Book Award, Honorable Mention
Surveillance Studies Network

Mary F. E. Ebeling is Associate Professor of Sociology and affiliate faculty at the Center for Science, Technology and Society, Drexel University. She is author of Healthcare and Big Data: Digital Specters and Phantom Objects.

Afterlives of Data: Life and Debt under Capitalist Surveillance

Afterlives of Data follows the curious and multiple lives that our data live once they escape our control. Mary F. E. Ebeling’s ethnographic investigation shows how information about our health and the debt that we carry becomes biopolitical assets owned by healthcare providers, insurers, commercial data brokers, credit reporting companies, and platforms. By delving into the oceans of data built from everyday medical and debt traumas, Ebeling reveals how data about our lives come to affect our bodies and our life chances and to wholly define us.

Joseph Esherick

2024 Joseph R. Levenson Prize Post-1900, Honorable Mention
Association for Asian Studies

Joseph W. Esherick is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego. He is author of The Origins of the Boxer Uprising (UC Press), Ancestral Leaves (UC Press), and other works on modern Chinese history. In 2021, Esherick received an award for Distinguished Contributions for China Studies from The World Forum on China Studies.

Accidental Holy Land: The Communist Revolution in Northwest China

Yan’an is China’s “revolutionary holy land,” the heart of Mao Zedong’s Communist movement from 1937 to 1947. Based on thirty years of archival and documentary research and numerous field trips to the region, Joseph W. Esherick’s book examines the origins of the Communist revolution in Northwest China, from the political, social, and demographic changes of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911), to the intellectual ferment of the early Republic, the guerrilla movement of the 1930s, and the replacement of the local revolutionary leadership after Mao and the Center arrived in 1935. In Accidental Holy Land, Esherick compels us to consider the Chinese Revolution not as some inevitable peasant response to poverty and oppression, but as the contingent product of local, national, and international events in a constantly changing milieu.

Moon-Ho Jung

History Book Award 2024, Honorable Mention
Association for Asian American Studies

Moon-Ho Jung is Professor of History at the University of Washington and the author of Coolies and Cane: Race, Labor, and Sugar in the Age of Emancipation.

Menace to Empire: Anticolonial Solidarities and the Transpacific Origins of the US Security State

Menace to Empire transforms familiar themes in American history. This profoundly ambitious history of race and empire traces both the colonial violence and the anticolonial rage that the United States spread across the Pacific between the Philippine-American War and World War II. Moon-Ho Jung argues that the US national security state as we know it was born out of attempts to repress and silence anticolonial subjects, from the Philippines and Hawaiʻi to California and beyond.

Sean Nesselrode Moncada

ALAA-Arvey Foundation Book Award 2024, Winner
Association for Latin American Art

Sean Nesselrode Moncada is Associate Professor of Theory and History of Art and Design at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Refined Material: Petroculture and Modernity in Venezuela

Venezuela’s turbulent twentieth century saw boom and bust as the former Spanish colony transformed into a major postwar cultural player. In this sweeping study of visual and material production, Sean Nesselrode Moncada explores the integral relationship between the global oil industry and the celebrated rise of geometric abstraction, kinetic art, and modern architecture in midcentury Venezuela. Oil provided the crucible for national reinvention, ushering in a period of dizzying optimism and bitter disillusion as artists, architects, graphic designers, activists, and critics sought to define the terms of modernity. An innovative, transdisciplinary reevaluation of Venezuelan modernism, Refined Material reveals how the logic of refinement conditioned the terms of development and redefined our relationship to nature, matter, and one another.

Sara Ronis

Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion, Textual Studies 2023, Finalist
American Academy of Religion

Sara Ronis is Associate Professor of Theology at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas.

Demons in the Details: Demonic Discourse and Rabbinic Culture in Late Antique Babylonia

The Babylonian Talmud is full of stories of demonic encounters, and it also includes many laws that attempt to regulate such encounters. In this book, Sara Ronis takes the reader on a journey across the rabbinic canon, exploring how late antique rabbis imagined, feared, and controlled demons. Ronis contextualizes the Talmud’s thought within the rich cultural matrix of Sasanian Babylonia, placing rabbinic thinking in conversation with Sumerian, Akkadian, Ugaritic, Syriac Christian, Zoroastrian, and Second Temple Jewish texts about demons to delve into the interactive communal context in which the rabbis created boundaries between the human and the supernatural, and between themselves and other religious communities. Demons in the Details explores the wide range of ways that the rabbis participated in broader discussions about beliefs and practices with their neighbors, out of which they created a profoundly Jewish demonology.

Kristian Karlo Saguin

Harry J. Benda Prize 2024, Winner
Association for Asian Studies

Kristian Karlo Saguin is Associate Professor of Geography at the University of the Philippines.

Urban Ecologies on the Edge: Making Manila’s Resource Frontier

In Urban Ecologies on the Edge, Kristian Karlo Saguin tracks the politics of resource flows and unpacks the narratives of Laguna Lake as Manila’s resource frontier. Provisioning the city and keeping it safe from floods are both frontier-making processes that bring together contested socioecological imaginaries, practices, and relations. Combining fieldwork and historical accounts, Saguin demonstrates how people—powerful and marginalized—interact with the state and the environment to produce the unequal landscapes of urbanization at and beyond the city’s edge.

Max K. Strassfeld

Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion: Textual Studies 2024, Winner

Best First Book in the History of Religions 2023, Finalist
American Academy of Religion

Max K. Strassfeld is Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Classics at the University of Arizona.

Trans Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature

Trans Talmud places eunuchs and androgynes at the center of rabbinic literature and asks what we can learn from them about Judaism and the project of transgender history. Rather than treating these figures as anomalies to be justified or explained away, Max K. Strassfeld argues that they profoundly shaped ideas about law, as the rabbis constructed intricate taxonomies of gender across dozens of texts to understand an array of cultural tensions. Showing how rabbis employed eunuchs and androgynes to define proper forms of masculinity, Strassfeld emphasizes the unique potential of these figures to not only establish the boundary of law but exceed and transform it. Trans Talmud challenges how we understand gender in Judaism and demonstrates that acknowledging nonbinary gender prompts a reassessment of Jewish literature and law.