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Harvard professor Maya Jasanoff wins $165,000 Windham-Campbell nonfiction prize

Maya Jasanoff handout

Maya Jasanoff, a history professor at Harvard University, has won a $165,000 Windham-Campbell Prize for nonfiction.

The prize is given annually to eight individual writers in fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry. Nominations are confidential, and entries are judged anonymously.

Jasanoff’s work focuses on the history of the British Empire, and she has published two award-winning books on the subject. Her first, “Edge of Empire: Lives, Culture, and Conquest in the East, 1750-1850” (2005), looks at the spread of British imperialism in Egypt and India from the perspective of art collectors.

Jasanoff’s second book, “Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World” (2011), won the George Washington Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She is currently working on “The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World,” set to be published in November.


Jasanoff said she plans to contribute some of her award winnings to organizations that have helped her along the way, noting that the arts and humanities are “under siege” and underfunded everywhere.

“Writing is a craft that lots of other people share,’’ she said in a telephone interview. “And I want good writing to continue to be supported around the world. Unfortunately, it seems harder to find support for that now.”

Jasanoff and the other winners will be honored at a literary festival at Yale University in September.

Lexi Peery can be reached at lexi.peery@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @LexiFP.