The Association for Queer Anthropology (AQA, formerly the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists, SOLGA) is very pleased to announce the 2012 winners of the Ruth Benedict Book Prize for outstanding scholarship on a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender topic. This prize is presented each year at the American Anthropological Association’s national meeting to acknowledge excellence in a scholarly book written from an anthropological perspective about a topic that engages issues and theoretical perspectives relevant to LGBTQ studies.
In the category of “Outstanding Single-Authored Monograph,” the 2012 Ruth Benedict Prize winner is: Margot Weiss for Techniques of Pleasure: BDSM and the Circuits of Sexuality (Duke University Press, 2011). The Committee would also like to recognize Scott Lauria Morgensen’s single-authored monograph Spaces Between Us: Queer Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Decolonialization (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) with an “Honorable Mention” for its contribution to the field. In the category of “Outstanding Edited Volume” the 2012 Ruth Benedict Prize is awarded to Gayle Rubin for Deviations: A Gayle Rubin Reader (Duke University Press, 2011).
The Ruth Benedict Book Prize Committee carefully considered an exceptional number of nominations for the awards this year, written or edited by both senior and junior scholars, and representing the ever-expanding and diverse field of LGBTQ studies in anthropology and beyond. The final decisions were difficult ones, as each nominated text reflected an important contribution to the field. The prize committee ultimately chose to recognize Weiss’ original monograph, an ethnographic study of BDSM practices based in the San Francisco Bay Area, for its contributions to theories of sexualities as circuits of pleasure necessarily, though productively, ensnared in the reproduction of social norms; Morgensen’s use of critical ethnic studies and indigenous feminisms to rethink anthropologies of the berdache toward unsettling white settler colonialism; and Rubin’s Deviations, an edited collection of previously published work, that brings together essays that span the career of preeminent queer, feminist scholar Gayle Rubin. The collection, which includes Rubin’s classic essays “The Traffic in Women” and “Thinking Sex,” excerpts from her groundbreaking anthropological work with the gay male leather community in San Francisco in the 1970s, previously anthologized essays like “Studying Sexual Subcultures: Excavating the Ethnography of Gay Communities in Urban North America,” and hard-to-find pieces in and about LGBTQ studies, richly contextualized through Rubin’s thoughtful and introspective introductory essay, models how ethnography of sexuality can be used as an important “intellectual tool to think about the present” (29).
The Ruth Benedict Book Prize will be presented to the winning authors during the AQA Business meeting on Friday, November 16, 2012: 6:15 PM-7:30 PM at the American Anthropological Association annual meeting.