Hugh Owen Prize

Established in 1971

The South Asian Studies Association (SASA) and its journal South Asia were both formally established in 1971. They were the outcomes of the growth in teaching and research on South Asia that had developed over the previous 15 years.

Nominations open now !!

Each year, the South Asian Studies Association of Australia (SASAA) offers the Hugh Owen Prize for the best undergraduate essay on any aspect of South Asian studies. For the purposes of the prize, the term ‘South Asia’ covers the nations of the Indian subcontinent and is taken to include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Essays are invited from all disciplines and persons holding any nationality.

The prize (value AUD $500.00) is awarded to the best undergraduate essay on South Asia in any field written as part of an undergraduate course of study each academic year, including Honours. The maximum word limit for the essay is 4000 words.

Hugh Owen was one of the key people behind the drive to establish a professional association of scholars in Australia and New Zealand concerned with the study of South Asia. Hugh undertook the difficult task of setting up the journal, South Asia, and established its pre-eminent standards, style and academic standing. Over the seven years of his editorship he succeeded in turning South Asia into a major journal concerned with South Asia studies outside the Indian subcontinent. While heavily involved in this work, Hugh was also a charismatic scholar and teacher and, at the University of Western Australia, was brilliantly successful in building up exciting undergraduate courses in the subject area and also in attracting an array of very bright and enthusiastic postgraduate students. This prize commemorates Hugh’s pursuit of excellence and his efforts to achieve that amongst his students. The prize was set up in 1988 following Hugh’s death and is funded by a grant from his estate through Mrs Terry Owen and with the continued support of SASAA.

Entries are now open for the Academic Year of 2023.

We are accepting submissions throughout the year, with the final submissions due by April 01, 2024.

Please forward eligible essays via email to Dr Keshab Giri (Secretary, SASAA) at

All entries must include a cover page indicating: (a) the title of the essay, (b) the name of the author, (c) the author’s contact details, including email address, and (d) the institutional affiliation of the author.

Judges are not permitted to assess the essays of their own students.

Previous Hugh Owen Prize Winners

2022: Sarah Lemons (University of Melbourne)

Essay Title: ‘Open Water: Social Change, Cultural Exchange and Public Baptism in Colonial Central India’.

2021: Manhar Bansal (National Law School of India University)

Essay Title: ‘Fragment, fantasy,history: Towards newer projects for re-imagining national history’.