ASAA Early Career Book Prize Winners

ASAA Early Career Book Prize Winners

2022 – Dr Aim Sinpeng from the University of Sydney for the book Opposing Democracy in the Digital Age: The Yellow Shirts in Thailand, University of Michigan Press, 2021. 

ASAA president Professor Katharine McGregor would like to thank the three judges for their generosity in serving on the prize selection committee: Professor Li Narangoa (ANU), Associate Professor Susie Protschky (Deakin) and Dr Yu Tao (UWA).

The judges provided the following citation for the winning book.

In Opposing Democracy in the Digital Age, Aim Sinpeng asks big questions that matter greatly to contemporary Asia and the world: How and why do people in democracies oppose democracy? Does social media facilitate democratic collapse? This winning book undertakes a close examination of the rise of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD), or ‘yellow shirts’, in Thailand – the most facebook-saturated country in the world – between 2005 and 2014. Using an approach that combines political theory, historical contextualisation, and quantitative as well as qualitative analysis of social media networks and activity, this book provides a well-written and persuasive account of the collapse of one of Southeast Asia’s oldest democracies. Through well-structured arguments, it offers profound insight into digital media’s democratic and anti-democratic potential. 

 The judges are impressed by the quality and richness of the original information presented in the book, which provides a detailed and dynamic picture of the contentious politics in contemporary Thailand. Moreover, Sinpeng’s study contributes significantly to knowledge about contemporary anti-democratic movements, one that deserves to resonate not just across but well beyond the field of Asian Studies. This book exemplifies how Asian Studies scholarship can simultaneously deepen the understanding of Asia and Asian countries and engage in critical theoretical debates in various academic disciplines. Accordingly, the judges believe this book appeals to a broad readership, from area specialists in Thai and Southeast Asian politics to political sociology theorists, from professional academic researchers to interested members of the public. The judges are pleased to see the emergence of inspiring scholarship, as demonstrated by Sinpeng’s book, among Australia-based early-career researchers in Asian studies.  

2020 – Dr Vannessa Hearman, Unmarked Graves: Death and Survival in the Anti-Communist Violence in East Java, Indonesia (ASAA Southeast Asia Publication Series.) NUS Press and University of Hawaii Press, Singapore and Hawaii, 2018