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Prestigious prize for Caius Fellow

  • 26 October 2021

Professor Sujit Sivasundaram, a Fellow of Gonville & Caius College, has won the prestigious British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding for his book Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire.

The award was announced by Jury Chair, Professor Patrick Wright FBA, on Tuesday 26 October, and the announcement and Professor Sivasundaram's acceptance speech can be seen in the below video.

In his acceptance speech, Professor Sivasundaram, the Professor of World History and Director of the Centre of South Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge, said: “Thank you so very much to the jurors and to everyone at the British Academy. I have been moved and challenged in reading the books of Eddie S. Glaude, Cal Flyn and Mahmood Mamdani and it was an honour to be shortlisted next to them.

“As we face our futures we need there to be space for modes of solidarity across nations and peoples in the global South. My wish is that this book is read and critiqued in such an exchange.

“I also hope that in a small way it highlights the need to challenge dominant modes of writing which too easily universalise or which stick too closely to definitions of national, cultural and area-based research.

“The book might also show that it is at least possible for a Sri Lankan based in Britain, for instance, to write on Tonga. In other words, the future of global cultural understanding requires that research is open to all and that it arises from many unexpected starting points and that we don’t only research our own histories.

“The book is also perhaps a little act of 'uncancelling'; the story it tells was immediately cancelled, I argue, by propagandist imperial writers of the nineteenth century. The discourses of our present moment of debate need to be set within a long history of cultural war if we are to now generate understanding.”

Main photo: Professor Sujit Sivasundaram in the Caius Library (Credit: Lloyd Mann)

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