Karen Bauer (Ph.D. 2008) and Nadav Samin (Ph.D. 2013) shared the Runner Up prize in the 2016 British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize competition.
Bauer won for her book Gender Hierarchy in the Qurʼān: Medieval Interpretations, Modern Responses (Cambridge University Press, 2015), which was described as “a ground-breaking contribution to the history of Muslim exegesis of the Qur’an. It is highly original not only in its diachronic perspective, but also in the variety of material it examines. The book is highly readable. Through the case studies that lie at its core, Bauer develops convincing arguments that demonstrate her tremendous knowledge and her analytical rigour. She strikes an ideal balance between factual findings and synthesis, providing the reader with a wealth of insights into discursive structures and historical developments. … [I]t is by far the best monograph on the history of Qur’anic exegesis that has been published in recent years and will be an indispensable resource for future scholars.”
Samin won for his book Of Sand or Soil: Genealogy and Tribal Belonging in Saudi Arabia (Princeton University Press, 2015). The prize announcement stated that “‘the backbone of the book is a remarkable amount of primary research.’ This enables the author to provide us with a ‘series of insights not only into the day-to-day work of a genealogies [sic] within a living tradition, but also into the evolution of the Wahhabi state from the pre-oil period to the 21st century.’ Throughout the book, Samin illustrates ‘a dynamic relationship between the state, scholar and tribe, and in so doing succeeds in his aim of providing a narrative of Saudi history that does not focus solely on oil or Islam. … The ability of Samin to link the big picture political story to his archival and field work on a scholar almost completely unknown outside the Arabian Peninsula is a remarkable achievement and would make him a worthy winner of this book prize’”
Books by NES-related authors have done quite well in this competition over the years. Three members of the NES faculty have won the British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize. Muhammad Qasim Zaman, Robert H. Niehaus '77 Professor of Near Eastern Studies and Religion, won in 2013 for Modern Islamic Thought in a Radical Age: Religious Authority and Internal Criticism (Cambridge University Press, 2012); Michael A. Cook, Class of 1943 University Professor of Near Eastern Studies, won in 2002 for Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2000); and Patricia Crone, Visiting Lecturer with the rank of Professor in Near Eastern Studies, won in 2005 for Medieval Islamic Political Thought (Edinburgh University Press, 2004). Four other books by NES alumni have also done well in the competition. State, Faith, and Nation in Ottoman and Post-Ottoman Lands (Cambridge University Press, 2014) by Frederick F. Anscombe (Ph. D. 1994) and Shi'i Islam: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2014) by Najam Haider (Ph.D. 2007) were both awarded Honourable Mention in 2015, Charity in Islamic Societies (Cambridge University Press, 2008) by Amy Singer (Ph.D. 1989) was awarded Honourable Mention in 2009, and Marriage, Money and Divorce in Medieval Islamic Society (Cambridge University Press, 2005) by Yossef Rapoport (Ph.D. 2002) was short-listed for the award in 2006. Finally, former TRI Visiting Fellow Pascal Ménoret won the 2015 Prize for his Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt (Cambridge University Press, 2014).
“The [British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book] Prize was founded thanks to an endowment of the Abdullah Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah Foundation. … The prize is awarded for the best scholarly work on the Middle East each year.”