Canada’s $75,000 Cundill History Prize Names 2021 Jury

In News by Porter Anderson

The four jurors joining Michael Ignatieff for the Cundill History Prize this year are based in India, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

In Montreal, October 4, 2020, the Jean Talon Market. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Marc Bruxelle

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Shortlist Expected in September
Having announced that former Canadian Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff is the 2021 jury chair for the Montreal-based Cundill History Prize, we have news today (May 12) of the four historians who will join him on the panel for this year’s US$75,000 competition.

Since it began a re-introduction of itself with its 10th anniversary in 2017, the Cundill has become one of the most-watched programs of its kind, not least because its focus is inherently political in an age of politicization. Not for nothing was the best known of its jurors last year the political analyst, author, and The Atlantic staff writer Anne Applebaum. She won the 2013 Cundill honor for Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956 (Penguin Random House, 2013).

Amid the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the jury has been sent preloaded e-readers for their long summer of reading. They’ll be asked for a shortlist by September and a group of finalists, usually three, for the announcement of a winner in early December.

Cundill History Prize 2021 Jury

Working with Michael Ignatieff on the 2021 Cundill jury are, from left. Eric Foner, Henrietta Harrison, Sunil Khilnani, and Jennifer L. Morgan

  • Eric Foner is the DeWitt Clinton professor emeritus of history at Columbia University, with a focus in his work on the history of American race relations
  • British historian Henrietta Harrison, professor of modern Chinese history at Oxford University and a Stanley Ho Tutorial fellow in Chinese History, Pembroke College, is a specialist on the social and cultural history of China from the Qing dynasty to today
  • Sunil Khilnani is a professor of history and politics at Ashoka University, Sonipat, whose focus on Indian history includes research interests in democratic theory and strategic thought
  • US historian Jennifer L. Morgan is a professor of history in the department of social and cultural analysis at New York University and is the department’s chair, specialized in gender and race in the Black Atlantic world

Jason Opal

Jason Opal is the chair of history and classical studies at McGill University, the seat of the Cundill Prize. In a prepared statement, he’s quoted, calling the jurors “a collection of stars for this year’s jury.

“Each member is eminent and accomplished, and his or her expertise ranges from the Americas and Europe to India and Asia. Their approaches are diverse and complementary, enabling a wide and deep reading of the excellent books they’ll consider for the prize.

“Above all, they’ll be able to find the works of history that matter most urgently—the books that enable us to better see and understand the ongoing past.”

The Cundill History Prize is open to authors from anywhere in the world—regardless of nationality or place of residence—as well as translations into English.

As of 2020, the prize’s organizers report that the program has transitioned to a fully digital submissions process.

In addition to the US$75,000 prize for the winner , each of the two runners-up are given $10,000.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, the 2020 Cundill History Prize was won by Camilla Townsend for Fifth Sun: A History of the Aztecs (Oxford University Press USA).

Previous winners of the Cundill History Prize are:

  • Camilla Townsend (2020)
  • Julia Lovell (2019)
  • Maya Jasanoff (2018)
  • Daniel Beer (2017)
  • Thomas W. Laqueur (2016)
  • Susan Pedersen (2015)
  • Gary Bass (2014)
  • Anne Applebaum (2013)
  • Stephen Platt (2012)
  • Sergio Luzzatto (2011)
  • Diarmaid MacCulloch (2010)
  • Lisa Jardine (2009)
  • Stuart B. Schwartz (2008)

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Cundill History Prize is here. More from us on literary prizes in general is here, more on nonfiction is here, and more on history writing is here.  

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.