The ASH dissertation prize 2019-2020 is awarded jointly to Josephine van den Bent and Sander Govaerts by the ASH Advisory Board.
Josephine van den Bent is awarded the prize for her dissertation Mongols in Mamluk Eyes, written under the supervision of professor Guy Geltner and professor Maaike van Berkel (Radboud Universiteit). In her thesis she investigates the representation of the Mongols in the Mamluk sultanate of Egypt and Syria, and the ways in which contemporary scholars were involved in processes of ethnic identification, categorisation and othering and the ways in which such representations of the Mongols were used for various purposes in response to, and in interaction with, the sultanate’s complex ethnic and political contexts.
The Advisory Board deems her dissertation to be a study of international importance, and Van den Bent is to be commended for achieving to present her arguments on a complex and big topic in such a succinct and clear way. Moreover, she shows considerable expertise and impressive research skills in mastering the primary evidence and her philological approaches. In short, she has written an exemplary dissertation which fully deserves the ASH dissertation prize.
Sander Govaerts receives the prize for his dissertation Mosasaurs: interactions between armies and ecosystems in the Meuse region, 1250-1850, written under the supervision of professor Guy Geltner, professor Mieke Aerts and dr. Mario Damen. Govaerts argues that armies' conscious and concerted protection and conservation of ecosystems long predates the rise of modern environmentalism, and that this supposedly modern behaviour is just one element in a complex web of interconnections between armed forces and their surrounding world. The focus on the Meuse region avoids the common emphasis on political structures, and the study reflects the emphasis on continuity between the High Middle Ages and the Early Modern period.
The Advisory Board praises Govaerts’ study as very innovative, original and multidisciplinary. A work of great ambition and creativity, it brings together two subjects that have rarely (if ever) been studied in tandem, and covers no less than 600 years of history. For this impressive intellectual achievement Govaerts is equally worthy winner of the ASH dissertation prize.
The ASH dissertation award is presented annually to the author of the best doctoral dissertation of the Amsterdam School for Historical Studies. The award is accompanied by a prize of € 500.