Faculty and staff mingled behind the gold-trimmed doors of the Lee Jamail Academic Room in The University of Texas’ historic Main Building. They gathered Nov. 3 to celebrate the school’s esteemed authors and researchers at the 2022 Hamilton Book Awards.
The University Co-operative Society and the UT Office of the Vice President for Research, Scholarship and Creative Endeavors sponsor the awards. The awards’ namesake, the late Robert W. Hamilton, was a chairperson of the co-op’s board of directors and a UT School of Law professor emeritus. The first-place prize is the highest achievement available to UT Austin authors.
The ceremony celebrated one winner and three finalists out of 77 nominees. The committee announced that Peniel Joseph, author of “The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.,” was the 2022 winner. Sarah Brayne, author of “Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing;” Judith Coffin, author of “Sex, Love, and Letters: Writing Simone de Beauvoir;” and R. Alan Covey, author of “Inca Apocalypse: The Spanish Conquest and the Transformation of the Andean World,” were named the finalists.
The University Co-op also commended Career Excellence Award recipient and professor of neuroscience Kristen Harris; Best Paper Award recipient and molecular pharmaceutics professor Maria Croyle; and Creative Research Award recipient and research professor Raj Patel for globally impactful work.
A dual biography of two trailblazing Black leaders, “The Sword and the Shield” compares the lives and beliefs of Malcolm X and King, debunking common misbeliefs about both men. Joseph, a professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the College of Liberal Arts History Department, taught the book as an undergraduate seminar course twice.
As the founding director of the LBJ School’s Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, Joseph says his administrators and colleagues were of paramount support during the book’s writing. His colleagues gave him the time to research and teach courses so he could work with the contents of his research. Joseph’s goal is to enhance the UT community’s social knowledge through his work. He believes the prize will increase the book’s visibility across campus and help him achieve this goal.
“I’m interested in social community transformation,” Joseph says. “Issues of racial justice are deeply meaningful for me. I want to see and build the beloved community and have it actually be a reality.”
The works of Malcolm X and King still echo loudly today, Joseph says. He believes the two leaders’ fight for equality holds particular relevance in light of recent acts of national and global discrimination.
“Their quest for human dignity and citizenship for all people are hugely important now more than ever, with the rise of all the -isms and things happening in the United States and globally,” Joseph says.
Brayne’s “Predict and Surveil” also engages with the issue of inequality. It details the ways that police use big data analytics while shining a light on the consequences of this technology. The associate professor of sociology says she hopes the recognition will expose non-sociologists to her book.
“It’s an academic book, but I tried to write it in a way that is not exclusionary,” Brayne says. “Issues around governance and inequality affect many people, not just sociologists.”
Inspired by Coffin’s discovery of the collection of letters sent to Simone de Beauvoir by her readers, “Sex, Love, and Letters” examines the relationship between the French philosopher and her fans. Coffin, a professor of history, feels that being selected as a finalist possesses particular significance as the awards are interdisciplinary.
“Our books are always discussed and circulated in our own professional fields among historians or French historians, but to have them recognized here at UT is different,” Coffin says. “It’s a different audience, and it’s cross-disciplinary, which is very exciting and competitive.”
Covey views the awards as an inspiring reminder of his colleagues’ work. Through “Inca Apocalypse,” the professor of anthropology provides a new history of the Spanish invasion of the Inca Empire. The co-op’s acknowledgement of the book, Covey says, means more to him than its sales.
“(For) the books that we write as academics, the sales are not even the top two or three things that tell us whether the project is successful,” Covey says. “In a lot of ways, I think being a finalist is more important … because it says how people within this really broad, diverse and deep academic community are receiving the work.”
As the award ceremony came to a close, the audience stood and applauded the winners.
2022 Hamilton Book Awards Winners
Since 1997, the University Co-op Robert W. Hamilton Book Awards have recognized the outstanding scholarship and creativity of The University of Texas at Austin staff and faculty members.
The Sword and the Shield
By Peniel Joseph
To most Americans, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. represent contrasting ideals: self-defense versus nonviolence, Black Power versus civil rights. The struggle for Black freedom is wrought with the same contrasts. In “The Sword and the Shield,” Peniel E. Joseph upends these misconceptions and reveals a nuanced portrait of two men who, despite markedly different backgrounds, inspired and pushed each other throughout their adult lives. (Courtesy of Basic Books Publishing)
Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing
By Sarah Brayne
In “Predict and Surveil,” Sarah Brayne offers an unprecedented, inside look at how police use big data and new surveillance technologies, leveraging on-the-ground fieldwork with one of the most technologically advanced law enforcement agencies in the world — the Los Angeles Police Department. (Courtesy of Oxford University Press)
Sex, Love and Letters: Writing Simone de Beauvoir
By Judith Coffin
Coffin discovered a virtually unexplored treasure trove of letters to Simone de Beauvoir, and it inspired Coffin to explore the intimate bond between the famed author and her reading public. This correspondence immerses us in the tumultuous decades from the late 1940s to the 1970s through the dilemmas and exhilarations of the early gay liberation and feminist movements. (Courtesy of Cornell University Press)
Inca Apocalypse: The Spanish Conquest and the Transformation of the Andean World
By R. Alan Covey
“Inca Apocalypse” develops a new perspective on the Spanish invasion and transformation of the Inca realm. Alan Covey traces the origins of the Inca and Spanish empires, identifying how Andean and Iberian beliefs about the world’s end shaped the collision of the two civilizations. (Courtesy of Oxford University Press)