Professor Jeffrey Hadler wins the 2011 Benda Prize

The Department is pleased to announce that Associate Professor Jeffrey Hadler is the 2011 recipient of the Harry J. Benda Prize in Southeast Asian Studies. The Benda Prize is given annually by the Association for Asian Studies to an outstanding newer scholar for a first book in the field of Southeast Asian Studies. This is the third time this prestigious award has been given to a UC Berkeley faculty member. Peter Zinoman, Associate Professor in both SSEAS and History, received the prize in 2003, while Penny Edwards, Associate Professor of South and Southeast Asian Studies, was awarded the prize in 2009. With this news, UC Berkeley is now the only university in the US or globally to have three Benda Prize recipients on its faculty.

The citation for Hadler’s prize is as follows:

In Muslims and Matriarchs, Jeffrey Hadler provides a rich social history of the Minangkabau of West Sumatra. Elegantly written, it is an illuminating study of change in the realms of gender relations, public and private space, intellectual life, religion, politics and society. Steeped in the scholarship of the region, Hadler worked closely and creatively with both historical records and contemporary realities, and his book offers a rich mix of sources and analytical approaches to the Minangkabau of West Sumatra, and to the broader Muslim community of the Indonesian archipelago.

Muslims and Matriarchs traces the patterns of continuity and change that have characterized modern Minangkabau history, stretching from the end of the Padri rebellion into the twilight years of Dutch colonial rule in West Sumatra. His primary interest, however, lies largely in broader social changes, in education, gender relations and home life for the Minangkabau. With great nuance and depth, Hadler shows how the Minangkabau “matriarchate” responded creatively to change and to the forces of capitalism and modernity by questioning elemental cultural definitions and, as a result, producing some of the country’s leading nationalist intellectuals and activists.

Thanks to its originality, meticulous research, elegant writing, compelling analysis, and deep reflection on local realities and responses to some of the most significant transformations in modern Indonesian and Southeast Asian history, Hadler’s book is this year’s distinguished winner of the Benda Prize.