History Department
History Department

Yoav Di-Capua's "No Exit" named Hamilton Book Award Runner-Up; Lina del Castillo and A. G. Hopkins recognized

Sun, November 3, 2019
Yoav Di-Capua's

Congratulations to Dr. Yoav Di-Capua, whose book No Exit: Arab Existentialism, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Decolonization (University of Chicago Press, March 2018) was named runner-up for the 2019 Robert W. Hamilton Book Award! Prof. Di-Capua received the award at the Hamilton awards banquet on October 15.

Dr. Di-Capua has written about his research for No Exit for Not Even Past, and presented the book as part of the IHS History Faculty New Book Series last Spring. He was also interviewed about his work for the book by Prof. Naghmeh Sohrabi, Charles (Corky) Goodman Chair in Middle East History at Brandeis University, for the website Age of Revolutions, and , and by Prof. Margaret Litvin, Associate Professor Boston University, for the transregional research blog TRAFO.

By closely following the remarkable career of Arab existentialism, Professor Di-Capua reconstructs the cosmopolitan milieu of the generation that tried to articulate a political and philosophical vision for an egalitarian postcolonial world. He tells this story by touring a fascinating selection of Arabic and Hebrew archives, including unpublished diaries and interviews. Tragically, the warm and hopeful relationships forged between Arab intellectuals, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and others ended when, on the eve of the 1967 war, Sartre failed to embrace the Palestinian cause. Today, when the prospect of global ethical engagement seems to be slipping ever farther out of reach, No Exit provides a timely, humanistic account of the intellectual hopes, struggles, and victories that shaped the Arab experience of decolonization and a delightfully wide-ranging excavation of existentialism’s non-Western history.

Prof. Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago, wrote of the book, "A tour de force, No Exit provides an absorbing, sensitive, and yet complex and multi-stranded narrative of the sense of intellectual excitement and political frustration that marked Arab intellectuals' engagement with Sartre and existentialism in the 1960s. An exemplary exercise in global intellectual history and postcolonial studies."

“In an age when so many associate the Arab world with regressive faith and failed revolution, Yoav Di-Capua’s brilliant study is a galvanizing reminder of its centrality to the history of one of the most vanguard intellectual movements of modern times," said Prof. Samuel Moyn, Yale University. "In a pathbreaking global intellectual history, Di-Capua reveals that Jean-Paul Sartre's celebrated depiction of ‘no exit’ could take on tragic new meaning in postcolonial societies. It is an amazingly bold and ingenious accomplishment, crossing and uniting fields like no book I can remember.”

Fifty-four books were nominated for the 2019 Robert W. Hamilton Book Awards. Authors of all nominated books were honored at the award ceremony hosted by the University Co-operative Society.

Prof. Lina del Castillo’s book Crafting a Republic for the World: Scientific, Geographic, and Historiographic Inventions of Colombia for the World (University of Nebraska Press, June 2018) and Prof. Emeritus Antony G. Hopkins’ book American Empire: A Global History (Princeton University Press, 20180) were among the History faculty nominees this year.

The Hamilton Book Awards, underwritten by The University Co-operative Society. The awards are made to faculty or staff members who, in the preceding calendar year, have published the best book-length publications as determined by a multi-disciplinary committee of scholars appointed by the Vice President for Research of The University of Texas at Austin.

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