Shortlisted Books for the 2021 ICAS Book Prize Spanish/Portuguese Edition

The winners will be announced in August during the next ICAS Conference

For many years, SEPHIS and the International Convention of Asian Scholars has been working together in the organization of the Spanish and Portuguese Edition of the ICAS Book Prize. 

The five shortlisted books for the 2021 award are:  


Machuca, Paulina. 2019. Historia mínima de Filipinas [A concise history of the Philippines OR Minimal History of the Philippines]. Mexico: Colmex. 

Paulina Machuca brings an important contribution to the study of Asia in Spanish language, presenting the Philippines as a space historically marked by the crossing of worlds and the circulation of cultures. In addition to emphasizing the archipelago’s connections with other territories in the Indian and Pacific Ocean over five centuries, the book takes an innovative look at the history of relations between the Philippines and Mexico. One of her main contributions is to propose a history of the Philippines that transcends the hegemonic national historiographical narratives essentially centered on the Manila region. Machuca highlights regions marginalized by the official historical narrative, such as the Muslim Mindanao, as well as dedicating itself to the intertwined relations between the islands of the vast Philippine archipelago. The work also stands out for its critical eye in relation to Spanish and American historiographies, which are still dominant, essentially based on colonial archives and reproducing stereotypes inherited from that period. 


Sastre de la Vega, Daniel. 2019. Arte y Nación. El discurso de la historia del arte en el Japón Meiji [Art and Nation. The discourse of the history of art in Meiji Japan]. Barcelona: Edicions Bellaterra. 

Daniel Sastre’s work concentrates on the role of the State in the construction of aesthetics, and of a consumption of the aesthetics of art in Japan in the second half of the 19th century. Although the connection between art and nation has been extensively explored over the past few decades for the case of Japan, Sastre’s work brings fresh innovations to the debate. The book shows that writings on aesthetics and historical-artistic narratives, anticipate the creation of museums, the consolidation of an artistic criticism and the formalization of the field of history of art in a vast geography of the Far East. 


Garduño García, Moisés y Enrique Vera Morales. 2019. Los combatientes del pueblo de Irán: historia, auge y caída de una oposición islamo-marxista [Iran’s People’s Fighters]. Mexico: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.  

The scholarship of Portuguese- or Spanish-speaking countries’ is not normally considered when we search for as specialists in the Middle East, near Asia or central Asia. This impressive and very detailed study conducted by Moises Garduño shows the accumulated scholarship in Latin America concerning these regions. The investigation deals with archival sources and interviews with politicians, activists and former intellectuals related to the contemporary history of Iran and the engagement of the Iran’s People’s Fighters (Moyahedin-e Jalq-e Iran) for decades.  


Prado-Fonts, Carles. 2019. Regresar a China [Returning to China]. Madrid: Editorial Trotta. 

Returning to China is fascinating book, produced by a senior researcher and gifted writer. Carlos Prado-Fonts portrays the experience of the return of Chinese intellectuals who left their country for studying in Europe, the United States and Japan in the first half of the 20th century. Prado-Fonts focuses on the trajectory of three renowned writers, Lu Xun (1881-1936), Lao She (1899-1966) and Qian Zhongshu (1910-1998), to address a much broader social, cultural and political context. This captivating work, endowed with a rich and sensitive narrative, does not avoid confronting clichés about China. The book articulates an analysis of macroprocesses and individual trajectories, observing the dilemmas of a society in vertiginous transformation of its political system, while observing individual trajectories of thousands of returned intellectuals, divided between different cultures and national experiences. 


Soalheiro, Bruna. 2018. Viagem da Cruz ao Teto do Mundo [The travels of the Cross to the roof of the world]Paco Editorial.  

The product of serious and dedicated research, on the expansion of Christianity in a region with a shortage of academic analysis: the history of the connections between South Asia, the plateau of Asia and Central Asia. Bruna Soalheiro’s careful research on the Jesuit presence in India between the 16th and 18th centuries, focuses on the missions to the Mogul court (1579), and that to the Tibet (started in 1624), analyzing writings published and circulated by the Society of Jesus, as well as on letters and notebooks written by missionaries. Soalheiro explores reports on the complex dynamics of cultural transfers, ways of circulating ideas and political disputes that go beyond strictly religious readings and help “de-cloistering” the history of religious orders. The book dialogues with a global, connected history that does not lose sight of the geopolitical dimension of religious missions, which need to be analyzed in the face of disputes with other religions present in the region, such as Buddhism and Islam. Another merit of this work is to show that even if the conversion intentions were not very successful with the Mogul court and in Tibet, the missions certainly left a mark in the political and cultural history of these spaces, ending up generating new fields of possibilities in religious terms and politicians.


Further detail on the ICAS website