SEA Book Prize

The Society for Economic Anthropology Book Prize

The 2017 SEA Prize for Best Book in Economic Anthropology has been awarded to: Money from Nothing: Indebtedness and Aspiration in South Africa, by Deborah James, Professor of Anthropology at the London School of Economics. The book was published by Stanford University Press in 2015.

The Book Prize Committee found the book to be “an excellent intervention into current anthropological discussions of debt, poverty, and success.” It also directly, usefully, and meaningfully engages the word of economists; is an illuminating lens on the complexities of life across classes in post-Apartheid South Africa; and does a good job of interweaving quantitative and qualitative data to substantiate its very original arguments.


The SEA Book Prize Committee looks for the best book in economic anthropology published over the last 3 years. Author must be SEA members at the time of their book’s submission. Nonmembers whose books are nominated will have the opportunity to join the SEA and be considered for this prize. SEA is a member organization of the American Anthropological Association.

Previous winners of the Society for Economic Anthropology’s book prize are:

  • 2003 Salaula: The World of Secondhand Clothing and Zambia by Karen Tranberg-Hansen
  • 2005 Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World by Ted Bestor
  • 2008 Global Outlaws: Crime, money and power in the Contemporary World by Carolyn           Nordstrom AND Home Cooking in the Global Village: Caribbean Food from Buccaneers to Ecotourists by Richard Wilk
  • 2011 Coffee and Community: Maya Farmers and Fair Trade Markets by Sarah Lyons
  • 2014 The Darjeeling Distinction: Labor and Justice on Fair-Trade Tea Plantations in India by Sarah Besky

The book prize includes a $500 award, and will be presented during the Society for Economic Anthropology spring meeting and announced in the American Anthropological Association’s Anthropology News.