MESA - Middle East Studies Association

Roger Owen Book Award

The Roger Owen Book Award was first given in 2011 to honor Roger Owen, the A.J. Meyer Professor of Middle East History at Harvard University. Announced at the Awards Ceremony at MESA’s annual meeting, the biennial Roger Owen Book Award recognizes the very best in economics, economic history, or the political economy of the Middle East and North Africa scholarship.

Nomination Guidelines

Deadline April 10, 2017 (extended)

The 2017 Roger Owen Book Award will seek nominations by publishers and authors in late 2016 or early 2017. Below is a list of criteria that should be met:

1. Subject matter must deal with economics, economic history or the political economy of the Middle East and North Africa (Mali to Pakistan) and the work must seek to advance knowledge and scholarship on these areas within the modern period (roughly 1750 to the present). Indeed, the purpose of the award is to encourage work in these fields and areas. The works considered should demonstrate substantive understanding of the historical, social and political implications of economic factors, theoretical sophistication and interpretive elegance.

2. Books must be non-fiction scholarly monographs based on original research published in English* between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2017.
*Works translated from other languages into English will also be considered but will be judged by the same rigorous standards as those for works submitted in English. Authors need not be members of MESA.

3. Works not eligible include edited collections and compilations, proceedings of symposia, new editions of previously published books, bibliographies, dictionaries, and textbooks.

4. Nominations must be made by April 10, 2017, with books delivered to the readers by April 15, 2017 or books will not be eligible for the competition.

5. The author of the single winning book will receive $2000 and a certificate of award. The 2017 winner will be announced at the Awards Ceremony at the MESA annual meeting in Washington, DC.

Inquiries should be addressed to Sara L. Palmer (see below)


Award Recipients


Zeinab Abul-Magd, Oberlin College
Imagined Empires: A History of Revolt in Egypt (University of California Press, 2013)

"This book is a sophisticated study of resistance to crises and devastation brought about by imperialism and colonialism in Qina province in Upper Egypt.  It is a story not known to most students of Egypt nor of empires.

Based on a wide array of archival and primary sources, including newly available Egyptian archival sources, Abul-Magd debunks myths of empire, showing how these empires, far from achieving their stated goals, brought about destruction and environmental crises.  Covering an extended period from 1500 to the early twenty-first century, Abul-Magd gives a highly readable account of rebellion, sabotage, and imperial ineptitude. 

Imagined Empires reorients the discussion of Egyptian history from a Cairo-centered narrative to one that focuses on ‘subaltern’ actors in southern Egypt.  It is fundamentally a story about how changes in land ownership and trade flows brought about by imperial markets engendered under-development in what was once a relatively prosperous part of Egypt."


Nancy Reynolds, Washington University in St. Louis, A City Consumed: Urban Commerce, the Cairo Fire, and the Politics of Decolonization in Egypt (Stanford University Press)


Alan Mikhail, Yale University
Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt: An Environmental History (Cambridge University Press, 2011)


To Nominate a Book (Deadline: April 10, 2017)

Send a letter of nomination and one copy of the book to the Book Awards Coordinator at the MESA Secretariat. Nominations need to be made by April 1, 2017; the book needs to arrive by April 15, 2017.

Sara L. Palmer, Book Awards Coordinator
2017 Roger Owen Award Competition
Middle East Studies Association
3542 N. Geronimo Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85705

520-333-2577 ext. 103
520-207-3166 (fax)

Please include the full title, author’s full name, publisher, and publication date of the book.

In addition, you will need to send one copy of the book to each of the three readers on the 2017 Roger Owen Book Award Committee.

Nancy Y. Reynolds
Department of History
Campus Box 1062
Washington University in St. Louis
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis MO 63130-4899

Hadi Salehi Esfahani
210 DKH
1407 W. Gregory Drive
University of Illinois
Urbana IL 61801

Gregory White
Dept of Government
10 Prospect Street
Smith College
Northampton MA 01063


The award is made possible by the generous support of donors who wish to honor the scholarship of Roger Owen and encourage wide ranging research incorporating economics and economic factors.

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