- Social Science
The committee enthusiastically selected Hung Cam Thai’s Insufficient Funds: The Culture of Money in Low-Wage Transnational Families (Stanford University Press, 2014) for the 2016 Asian American Studies Award for best book in the social sciences. It is a moving, empirically rich, and beautifully written ethnography. Based on over one hundred in-depth interviews and thirty-five [End Page 426] months of fieldwork in Saigon, Insufficient Funds seamlessly connects an analysis of the political economy with the daily struggles, victories, and relationships of transnational Vietnamese families. It focuses on the emotional and monetary family relations among low-wage Vietnamese immigrants in the United States and their nonmigrant family members. It skillfully and convincingly combines compelling and nuanced testimonies with astute analyses. In method, framework, and style Insufficient Funds is exemplary.
The committee unanimously decided to award honorable mention to Zareena Grewal for Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority (New York University Press, 2014). Islam Is a Foreign Country is impressive in its scope, unique in its transnational framework, and timely in its engagement with scholarly and popular debates about Islam, identity, and authenticity. It is a rich multisited ethnography that weaves together history, personal reflections, and powerful testimonies from American Muslim youth who travel between the United States, Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. It also makes important linkages between black studies, Islamic studies, and Asian American studies. The breadth and depth of Grewal’s first book make it especially noteworthy.