Last week the International Convention of Asian Scholars (ICAS) awarded Han F. Vermeulen the 2017 ICAS Book Prize for his stunning book, Before Boas: The Genesis of Ethnology and Ethnography in the German Enlightenment (Nebraska, 2015).
ICAS is the premier international gathering in the field of Asian Studies. Founded in 1997, ICAS serves as a platform for representatives of academia and civil society to focus on issues critical to Asia and by implication to the rest of the world, and is an active accelerator of research.
The Tenth International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS 10) was held at the Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre (CMECC) in Chiang Mai, Thailand from July 20-23, 2017. It has been organized by the Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RSCD), with support from the Faculty of Social Sciences of Chiang Mai University (CMU), and the International Institute for Asian Studies.
Before Boas was selected as this year’s book prize winner out of a pool of five shortlisted titles. Other titles include:
- Shanghai Homes: Palimpsests of Private Life by Jie Lie (Columbia University Press, 2015)
- Forests Are Gold: Trees, People, and Environmental Rule in Vietnam by Pamela D. McElwee (University of Washington Press, 2016)
- Places for Happiness: Community, Self, and Performance in the Philippines by William Peterson (University of Hawai’i Press, 2016)
- Fiction’s Family: Zhan Xi, Zhan Kai, and the Business of Women in Late-Qing China by Ellen Windmer (Harvard University Asia Center, 2016)
Before Boas argues that anthropology and ethnology were separate sciences during the Age of Reason, studying racial and ethnic diversity, respectively. Ethnography and ethnology focused not on “other” cultures but on all peoples of all eras. Following G. W. Leibniz, researchers in these fields categorized peoples primarily according to their languages. Franz Boas professionalized the holistic study of anthropology from the 1880s into the twentieth century.
The paperback edition will be released in Fall 2018.