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AAG Presents Book Awards

May 16, 2013

The Association of American Geographers recently presented its annual book awards at the 2013 AAG Annual Meeting in Los Angeles. These awards recognize book published in 2012 that were authored or edited by geographers. Representing the best of an ever growing field of quality books published across the breadth of the discipline, the AAG is proud to announce these awards.

The AAG Globe Book Award for Public Understanding of Geography

This award is given for a book written or co-authored by a geographer that conveys most powerfully the nature and importance of geography to the non-academic world. This distinction for 2012 was presented to Laura Pulido, University of Southern California, Laura Barraclough, Kalamazoo College, and Wendy Cheng, Arizona State University, for their book, A People’s Guide to Los Angeles, published by the University of California Press.

Conventional tourist guides to Los Angeles tend to emphasize famous places like Hollywood and the Westside, places populated largely by people with power and wealth. A People’s Guide to Los Angeles, instead takes the traveler to 115 little-known sites that have been the setting for struggles related to class, gender, ethnicity and environment. Co-authors Pulido, Barraclough, and Cheng do so with skillful, accessible writing, expressive photographs, and fine, useful maps. It is a penetrating critical geography without the jargon. A tourist using this book will undertake a voyage of discovery to places and histories that have been hitherto overlooked. Don’t leave Los Angeles without picking up this exceptional, deeply geographical book.

AAG Meridian Book Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work in Geography

The Meridian Book Award is given for a book written or co-authored by a geographer that makes an unusually important contribution to advancing the science and art of geography. Richard Schroeder, Rutgers University, received this award for his work, Africa after Apartheid: South Africa, Race and Nation in Tanzania, published by the Indiana University Press.

Africa after Apartheid explores what has happened to the region of southern Africa in the wake of Apartheid. A timely, important and deeply geographic book, Schroeder beautifully ties together economics, human migration, race relations, cultural changes, and a bit of physical landscape in tracing how the end of Apartheid had massive consequences for neighboring countries, especially in terms of capital investment and its concomitant race relations. While Schroeder focuses on a vitally important region and story, it could also be mirrored in other postcolonial settings. Where do rulers go, what do they do, and how do they act after the demise of their regime? In addition to Africa After Apartheid’s major empirical and theoretical contributions, the book is extremely well-written and accessible to non-specialists. His book significantly enhances our understanding of southern African as well as the art and science of geography.

2012 John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize

James “Pete” Shortridge, University of Kansas, was selected for the John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize, which was established to encourage and reward American geographers who write books about the United States which convey the insights of professional geography in language that is both interesting and attractive to lay readers. Shortridge earned the award for his book, Kansas City and How it Grew, 1822-2011, published by the University Press of Kansas.

For more than three decades, Pete Shortridge has sifted through the archives of his home state, traversed the blue highways and analyzed the human landscape to capture the distinctive qualities of a state in constant change. His historical perspective powerfully exposes the dynamic landscape of Kansas in a way that is ever attentive to changing patterns and processes. As impressive as his thorough documentation is, Shortridge's comprehensible prose enables the reader to follow the long-term influences that underlie the geographic etchings of an urbanizing society. Unlike many less forthright urban studies, Shortridge peels back the sometimes unpleasant layers of poverty, race and class that are obvious from the city’s streets. He notes how segregation and exclusion from opportunity were partly shaped by the political fragmentation of a city that straddles several counties and two states, making clear the underlying role of a complex political geography. The book's visual elements and powerful prose illuminate the emergence of an urban landscape on the prairie that J. B. Jackson himself would have been pleased to read about.

 

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