Book Prize

The Association for Political and Legal Anthropology (APLA) is pleased to invite nominations for the 2023 APLA Book Prize in Critical Anthropology competition. The association will recognize work that best exemplifies creativity and rigor in the ethnographic exploration of politics, law, and/or their interstices. The 2023 APLA book prize will be awarded at the 2023 American Anthropological Association annual meeting in Toronto and will be reviewed in PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review. It also carries an award of $1,000. An honorable mention may be identified by the committee, if appropriate.


The Association will recognize work that best exemplifies creativity and rigor in the ethnographic exploration of politics, law, and/or their interstices.

To be eligible for consideration, please ensure:

  • Either single- or multi-authored books are eligible, however edited volumes, reference works, or second editions of previously published works are excluded from consideration;
  • The book must have been published during the year prior to the competition (2022) and may not have been published by other publishers in any form prior to this year.
  • Books translated into English from another language are eligible for consideration.  In such cases, the year that the translation was published is considered the year of publication for purposes of eligibility;
  • Authors of nominated books must be members of APLA;
  • Authors of the book prize and honorable mention are expected to serve on the APLA Book Prize in Critical Anthropology committee the following year, circumstances permitting.


The Committee will evaluate eligible books based on whether they meet the following criteria:

  • ethnographically strong; advance theoretical insights related to political/legal anthropology;
  • original and well-substantiated arguments;
  • speak to compelling issues and problems beyond its geographic location/particular topic;
  • well-written;
  • and have the potential to be a major work in its field/s.

Nomination Process:

For consideration, authors or their publishers should submit the following form, then send a copy of the nominated book directly to each of the APLA Book Prize in Critical Anthropology committee members, whose details will be provided after filling out the form: must be received by April 15th! If you have difficulties accessing the form, please contact

If you have difficulties accessing the form, please contact

History of APLA Book Prize Recipients:


Book Prize Recipient:

Jim Smith for The Eyes of the World: Mining the Digital Age in the Eastern DR Congo (University of Chicago Press, 2021)

Honorable Mention:

Sarah Muir for her book, Routine Crisis: An Ethnography of Disillusion (University of Chicago Press, 2021)


Book Prize Recipient:
Kregg Hetherington for The Government of Beans: Regulating Life in the Age of Monocrops (Duke University Press, 2020)

Honorable Mention:
Arzoo Osanloo for Forgiveness Work: Mercy, Law, and Victims’ Rights in Iran (Princeton University Press, 2020)

Book Prize Recipient:  Alpa Shah (London School of Economics) for Nightmarch: Among India’s Revolutionary Guerrillas (University of Chicago Press, 2019)!

Honorable Mention:
Katherine Lemons (McGill University) for Divorcing Traditions: Islamic Marriage Law and the Making of Indian Secularism (Cornell University Press, 2019).

Dr. Ayse Parla (Boston University) for Precarious Hope: Migration and the Limits of Belonging in Turkey (Stanford University Press, 2019).

Book Prize Recipient: Susan Helen Ellison (Wellesley College) for Domesticating Democracy: The Politics of Conflict Resolution in Bolivia (Duke University Press, 2018)

Honorable Mention: Yael Berda (Hebrew University) for Living Emergency: Israel’s Permit Regime in the Occupied West Bank (Stanford University Press, 2017)

Book Prize Recipient: Isaias Rojas-Perez (Rutgers) for Mourning Remains: State Atrocity, Exhumations, and Governing the Disappeared in Peru’s Postwar Andes (Stanford University Press 2017).

Honorable Mention:
Nikhil Anand (University of Pennsylvania) for Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai (Duke University Press 2017)
Shiri Pasternak (Ryerson University) for Grounded Authority: The Algonquins of Barriere Lake against the State (University of Minnesota Press, 2017).

Book Prize Recipient: Karina Biondi for Sharing This Walk: An Ethnography of Prison Life and the PCC in Brazil (University of North Carolina Press, 2016), translated by John F. Collins.

Honorable Mention:
Antina von Schnitzler for Democracy’s Infrastructure: Techno-Politics and Protest After Apartheid  (Princeton University Press, 2016)
Nitzan Shoshan for the book The Management of Hate: Nation, Affect, and the Governance of Right Wing Extremism in Germany (Princeton University Press, 2016)

Book Prize Recipient: Catherine Fennell for Last Project Standing: Civics and Sympathy in Post-Welfare Chicago (University of Minnesota Press, 2015)

Honorable Mention: Jeremy M. Campbell for Conjuring Property: Speculation and Environmental Futures in the Brazilian Amazon (University of Washington Press, 2015)

Book Prize Recipient: Alex Golub for Leviathans at The Gold Mine: Creating Indigenous and Corporate Actors in Papua New Guinea (Duke University Press, 2014)

Honorable Mention:
Aaron Ansell for Zero Hunger: Political Culture and Antipoverty Policy in Northeast Brazil (University of North Carolina Press, 2014)
Audra Simpson for Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States (Duke University Press, 2014)

Book Prize Recipient: Lori Allen, The Rise and Fall of Human Rights: Cynicism and Politics in Occupied Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2013)

Honorable Mention: Matthew Hull for Government of Paper: The Materiality of Bureaucracy in Modern Pakistan (University of California Press, 2012)