The University Record, October 3, 1994

FACULTY AWARDS Nicholas B. Dirks, Faculty Recognition Award

Because of his bold intellectual efforts to connect the social sciences with the humanities, and European cultural history with that of South Asia, Nicholas Dirks has earned an outstanding international reputation as a scholar of Indian history and anthropology. His work has redefined our understanding of the social structures of India, and he is centrally engaged in many of the major interpretive debates in the humanities today.

Professor Dirks is among the most prominent representatives of the relatively new discipline of ethnohistory, a combination of anthropological and historical techniques and insights. His book The Hollow Crown examines the nature of the Indian caste system, and mounts a major critique of the previous discussions of caste. One of the most influential books published on India during the last decade, it has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the effects of colonialism on “traditional” societies.

At a time when anthropology, history, and the social sciences are in the midst of a period of transition and re-formulation, Nicholas Dirks manages to be effective in bridging what might otherwise be a growing fault line driving the social sciences apart. Director of the University of Michigan’s Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies, and a key contributor to the new Ph.D. Program in History of Anthropology, Professor Dirks has made Indian studies an exciting locus for the discussion of general theoretical issues by bringing together historians, anthropologists, sociologists, and others who command disparate geographical specialties.

As an educator, Professor Dirks knows how to call forth the best efforts from his students. Student engagement is high in spite of his very demanding course requirements, and he consistently draws students from a cross-section of backgrounds in history, anthropology, and sociology.

For his outstanding record of achievement in research, teaching, and service to the University, we are proud to present Nicholas Dirks with the Faculty Recognition Award.