Philippe Sands, Madawi Al-Rasheed and Catherine Hall join jury for the British Academy’s Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding

22 Jan 2021

The British Academy’s prestigious non-fiction book prize announces new jury members as it opens for entries.

Chair of the jury Professor Patrick Wright FBA, Emeritus Professor of Literature and History at King’s College, London, is joined by three new jury members. They are:

Philippe Sands QC FRSL, lawyer, academic and writer, University College London & Matrix Chambers. He is President of English PEN and won the Baillie Gifford Prize in 2016 for East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

Professor Madawi Al-Rasheed FBA, Visiting Professor at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics. She is the author and editor of several books on Saudi Arabia and is a regular contributor to international broadcast and print media

Professor Catherine Hall FBA, Professor Emerita of Modern British Social and Cultural History and Chair of the Centre for the Study of British Slave-ownership, Department of History, University College London. She is a leading social and cultural historian known for her work on gender, class, race and empire in the 19th century.

The jury is completed by the award-winning Channel 4 News broadcaster and journalist Fatima Manji, who serves on the panel for a second year.

The £25,000 prize is awarded annually for a non-fiction book that has made an outstanding contribution to global cultural understanding for a wider public audience. The British Academy is the UK’s national academy for humanities and social sciences and eligible books might come from the subjects that fall within those disciplines, from history and psychology to philosophy, languages and cultural studies.

The jury will select a shortlist of up to six books to be announced in September and the winner will be announced in October.

The prize was created in 2013 by the Academy in partnership with the philosopher, neuroscientist and international relations scholar Professor Nayef Al-Rodhan (St Antony’s College, Oxford University) to recognise academic research that aids global cultural understanding and can be accessed by a wider public audience. Al-Rodhan agreed to support the prize up to 2020 with the aim of establishing it as a significant force in global publishing and prizegiving. Now these objectives have been successfully accomplished and there is a high level of international awareness of the prize and a distinguished array of shortlisted authors and eventual winners, Professor Al-Rodhan will be exploring new partnerships with the Academy for a similar effect for philosophy.

We will honour his generosity and foresight by continuing to award what will now be called the British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding from 2021 onwards.

Jury chair Professor Patrick Wright FBA comments: “It is a great pleasure to welcome the new jury members who each bring exceptional expertise to the table. We look forward to reading and discussing the books, which compel us with new stories and will inspire readers to develop a deeper understanding of the world around us.”

Professor Sir David Cannadine, President of the British Academy, said: “The British Academy is very grateful to Professor Nayef Al Rodhan for his generosity in helping us to establish this prize which plays such a vital role in celebrating new, well-researched works of non-fiction which enable us to adopt a global view on society, humanity and our shared values. Past winners have explored many different aspects of global cultural understanding, and combined the highest academic quality with a determined resolve to reach the broadest possible public audience. As the newly named British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding, we look forward to seeing a wide range of books exploring this expansive and important theme.”

Submissions are now open. The deadline for submissions is 31 March 2021.

Last year's prize was awarded in 2020 to Hazel V. Carby for Imperial Intimacies: A Tale of Two Islands. She will be in conversation with Claire Armitstead, Associate Editor, Culture, at the Guardian in a free livestreamed event, hosted by the British Academy on Tuesday 26 January.

An entry form can be downloaded here.

For enquiries about submissions, please contact: [email protected] with the subject line 'Query: British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding 2021'.

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