Professor Saheed Aderinto of Nigeria and Kenyan scholar Chao Tayiana Maina are among the 2023 recipients of the Dan David Prize, the world’s largest history honor. Each of the winners, who will be revealed on February 28, will receive $300,000 in recognition of their contributions to historical research and to assist their future work.
“Our winners represent a new generation of historians. They are changing our understanding of the past by asking new questions, targeting under-researched topics and using innovative methods,” said Ariel David, board member of the Prize and the son of its founder. “Many of the winners we are recognizing today are still in the early stages of their careers, but they have already challenged how we think about history.”
Aderinto, a Professor of History and African Diaspora Studies at Florida International University, is known for his work on African history, politics, and culture. According to the Dan David Prize, his work challenges historians “to think about what constitutes the past in completely new ways, to ask new questions about the makers of history and to question conventional assumptions about power, agency and authority.”
He was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, in 1979, and graduated with honors from the University of Ibadan in 2004. In 2010, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. That same year, he began teaching at Western Carolina University, where he rose to the rank of full Professor of History before relocating to Florida International University the following year. Aderinto is the author of eight books, 37 journal articles and book chapters, 21 book reviews, and 41 articles in encyclopedias.
When Sex Endangered the State, his debut book, won the Nigerian Studies Association Book Prize in 2016 for being the “most important scholarly book/work on Nigeria published in the English language.” The historian is currently working on a book and a documentary about Fuji music in Nigeria.
He recently expressed his excitement about winning the Dan David Prize. “I just won the largest history prize in the world. It’s $300,000. For me, alone. One lump sum. 220 million, in Nigerian currency,” he wrote on Facebook.
Maina, the founder of African Digital Heritage, a non-profit organization based in Nairobi, Kenya, employs novel approaches to highlighting her country’s past. She “uses digital technology to capture and preserve previously hidden or suppressed historical tales in Kenya, enabling communities to participate with their cultural heritage and foreground African history inside digital spaces,” according to the Dan David Award.
She wishes to ensure that Africans from all around the world can actively participate in their cultural legacy. Maina is the co-founder of the volunteer collaborative Museum of British Colonialism and the Open Restitution Africa initiative, in addition to the African digital heritage.
The Dan David Prize
The prize was established in 2001 by Dan David, a Romanian-born entrepreneur and philanthropist, to honor the immense contributions made to humanity but eventually shifted its focus to history. The Dan David Foundation awards the Award each year to excellent early and mid-career scholars and practitioners in the historical disciplines. In an open nomination procedure, the winners were chosen from among hundreds of nominations made by colleagues, institutions, and the general public. The winners were chosen by a Selection Committee comprised of distinguished scholars and practitioners in history and related subjects, according to the Prize.
The awards ceremony will be organized in May in Israel.