The Memory Studies Association is pleased to announce the winner of the MSA First Book Award, which is co-sponsored by the SAGE journal Memory Studies. The award, which honours the best first monograph in the field of memory studies by an MSA member published in English in 2019 or 2020, goes to Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang’s The Great Exodus from China: Trauma, Memory, and Identity in Modern Taiwan (Cambridge University Press).
The jury—made up of Sarah Gensburger, Catherine Gilbert, Klaus Neumann, and Jay Winter and chaired by Stef Craps—had the following to say about the winning entry:
Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang’s The Great Exodus from China: Trauma, Memory, and Identity in Modern Taiwan is a highly accomplished and extensively researched study of the history, memories, and identities of waishengren, the mainland Chinese who fled or were evacuated to Taiwan in the late 1940s and early 1950s and their descendants. Drawing on personal testimonies and documentary sources, and engaging a broad range of memory studies scholarship, the author thoughtfully and skilfully explores how these people, who once arrived as invaders and refugees, came to regard Taiwan as their home. Along the way, he provides novel perspectives on categories such as diaspora and trauma, and introduces the generative concept of “multidirectional empathic unsettlements.” Carefully constructed and written with narrative flair, The Great Exodus from China is an important and compelling read, both as an account of Taiwanese postwar history and memory politics and as an understated story of the author’s own intellectual and emotional journey.
The award will be presented at the online MSA annual conference in Warsaw (5-9 July 2021), which will feature a plenary panel about The Great Exodus from China.
The jury would also like to recognise Anna Veprinska’s Empathy in Contemporary Poetry after Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan) with an honourable mention.
Until July 2021, if you are an MSA member, you can also enjoy a discount on (most) the books shortlisted for the MSA First Book Award. Find out more here.