The prize recognizes the best first book in American Studies released during 2021. Hu Pegues’ book is rooted in her own experience growing up Asian American in Alaska, where she heard many intersecting stories of Asian immigrants and Alaska Native peoples that never made it into the history books. In “Space-Time Colonialism,” she seeks to correct the record by evaluating four key historical periods in U.S.-Alaskan history – The Alaskan purchase, the Gold Rush, the emergence of salmon canneries and the World War II era – with a special focus on often overlooked connections between Alaska Native peoples and Asian American immigrants.
“Juliana Hu Pegues has written an elegant and humane book, ingeniously suggesting how to better specify settler colonialism’s relationship to empire, and better recognize how settlement’s practices, ranging from violence to new intimacies, reorient meanings of race, gender and indigeneity as categories,” members of the prize committee wrote.
Hu Pegues said that she is honored to receive this award because “American Studies was my first intellectual home and continues to be the field that produces the most meaningful scholarship for our times. I hope that readers of my book come away with the message that colonialism and racial exploitation are never inevitable or absolute, that the experiences of Indigenous and immigrant peoples, lived together, teach us another way to be.”