About the Angela Y. Davis Prize

The Angela Y. Davis Prize recognizes scholars who have applied or used their scholarship for the public good. Recipients of the award receive lifetime membership in the association. The prize winner will be announced at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association.

The award is named after Angela Y. Davis, prominent black feminist thinker, writer, activist, and prison abolitionist who has authored such books as Women, Race, and Class and Are Prisons Obsolete?, as well as Abolition Democracy: Beyond Prisons, Torture, and Empire. Davis was a critical voice in black freedom struggles and continues to organize against the prison-industrial complex. She has held academic positions at the University of California, Los Angeles, San Francisco State University, and the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she retired.

Eligibility Requirements and Application Procedures

Who is eligible: Current ASA members whose work explicitly aims to educate the public, influence policies, or address inequalities in imaginative, practical, and applicable forms. Eligible projects include but are not limited to public art, exhibits, films, performances, books, collaborations with community-based organizations, and engaging students in community-based projects.

Who can nominate: Anyone can submit a nomination on an ASA member's behalf. Individuals can also apply, or self-nominate. While those submitting the nomination need not be active members, they must create an account online in order to submit a nomination.

How to submit a nomination:

Step 1: Assemble the materials required for consideration. These include: 

  1. A statement describing the nominee's career in American studies, noting special achievements and contributions in research and scholarship; service to the ASA; other public service and teaching; collaborations with community-based organizations; and examples of work that helped to educate the public, influence policies, or in other ways addressed inequalities in imaginative, practical, and applicable forms. 
  2. A copy of the nominee's CV
  3. Supporting letters from collaborators, colleagues, and mentored students. These letters can be individually authored, but nominators might consider soliciting a smaller set of collectively authored letters with multiple signatories.
  4. A list of URLs for any relevant websites (if applicable) 

Selected materials should be representative, rather than exhaustive. Taken altogether, they should not exceed 50 pages—and, where possible, they should be combined into a single PDF. 

Step 2: Log onto the ASA website to upload the materials and submit the nominationYou will be asked to enter the nominee’s information (title, affiliation, address) before being prompted to upload a PDF of the materials outlined above. Nominations must be received no later than June 30. On your behalf, the Office of the Executive Director will share the nominating materials with the prize committee.

Committee Members: 

  • Chair: Dayo Gore, Georgetown University
  • Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Rutgers University
  • H.L.T. (HQ) Quan, Arizona State University

When is the deadline: June 30

This Year's Co-Winners (2023)

Professor Cathy Cohen, University of Chicago, and Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, San Francisco State University 

Past Winners 2012-2022

  • 2022: Lorgia García Peña, Tufts University
  • 2021: Noliwe Rooks, Cornell University
  • 2020: Michelle Daniel (Jones), New York University
  • 2019: Haunani-Kay Trask, professor emerita, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa
  • 2018: Barbara Ransby, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • 2017: No selection
  • 2016: Steven Salaita, American University of Beirut (Lebanon)
  • 2015: Robin Davis Gibran Kelley, University of California, Los Angeles
  • 2014: Rosa-Linda Fregoso, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • 2013: George Lipsitz, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • 2012: Ruth Wilson Gilmore, City University of New York Graduate Center