President’s Book Prize

The SASAA Presidents Prize is a biennial prize that rewards outstanding scholarship in South Asian Studies, in any discipline, by scholars at any stage of their research careers. The committee seeks original, scholarly monographs authored by SASAA members that make substantive contributions to South Asian Studies. Nominations may be made by authors, publishers or SASAA members.

The joint winners of the 2020-2021 SASAA President’s Book Prize are Dr Malini Sur for Jungle Passports: Fences, Mobility and Citizenship at the Northeast India-Bangladesh Borderand Dr Nisha PR for Jumbos and Jumping Devils: A Social History of Indian Circus.


The jury conferred that Jungle Passports highlights the global injustices of the twenty-first century “in which efforts to fortress territorial boundaries and ultranationalism are forcing people toward uncertain border crossings and violent encounters with increasingly hostile nation-states.” This tirelessly researched, engagingly written, and thoughtfully argued book merits widespread recognition. 

The jury also conferred that Jumbos and Jumping Devils is a path-breaking book that is a splendid tribute to the universe of the circus as it has functioned in India over the last two centuries. The jury noted that given the depth of the analysis and the quality of the presentation of the material the book is likely to have a long shelf life and become a major source for understanding of the itinerant peripatetic world of the circus. This wide-ranging book explores performing bodies and the constraints of performance, the inter-relationships between animals, the circus and the state, the complexities of circus tents and tenting, and the relationships between circus workers and trade unions.

SASAA would like to thank the jury comprising of Emeritus Professor Robin Jeffrey, Honorary Reader Jim Masselos, Professor John Zubryzcki, and Professor Assa Doron for their time and engagement with the nominated volumes.