Asian Studies Professor Receives National Recognition

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Anna Stir. PC: University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Anna Stir, a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Asian studies associate professor, was selected to receive the 2019 Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize from the Association for Asian Studies (AAS). The award, in recognition of Stirr’s book Singing Across Divides: Music and Intimate Politics in Nepal, will be presented at the AAS annual conference in Denver in March.

The Cohn prize honors outstanding and innovative scholarship across discipline and country of specialization for a first single-authored monograph on South Asia.

Singing Across Divides examines how forms of love and intimacy are linked to changing conceptions of political solidarity and forms of belonging, through the lens of Nepali dohori song. The book describes dohori as improvised, dialogic singing of witty conversations based on poetic couplets with a fixed rhyme scheme, often backed by instrumental music and accompanying dance, performed between men and women, with a primary focus on romantic love.


Stirr examines how dohori gets at the heart of tensions around regional, ethnic, caste and gender differences within Nepal, as it promotes potentially destabilizing musical and poetic interactions, love, sex and marriage across these social divides.

The Cohn Prize is named to honor the distinguished South Asia scholar, Bernard S. Cohn. Books nominated may address either contemporary or historical topics in any field of the humanities or the social sciences related to any of the countries of South Asia: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal in the spirit of Dr. Cohn’s broad and critical scholarship on culture and history in South Asia.


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