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The official publication of the North American Conference on British Studies (NACBS), the Journal of British Studies, has positioned itself as the critical resource for scholars of British culture from the Middle Ages through the present. Drawing on both established and emerging approaches, JBS presents scholarly articles and books reviews from renowned international authors who share their ideas on British society, politics, law, economics, and the arts. In 2005 (Vol. 44), the journal merged with the NACBS publication Albion, creating one journal for NACBS membership.


The JOHN BEN SNOW PRIZE is a $500 prize awarded annually by the North American Conference on British Studies for the best book by a North American scholar in any field of British Studies dealing with the period from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century. The author must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or Canada and be living in either country at the time of the award. Nominations may be made by the author or by the publisher of the book nominated. A publisher may nominate more than one title each year but should use discretion and not overburden the Prize Committee.

 The 2017 competition covers books published in 2016. Separate copies of the letter of nomination and of the book nominated should be sent by April 1, 2017 to each member of the Prize Committee. (Only books sent to every committee member can be considered.) For prompt attention, mark packages 'NACBS Prize Committee'. Send all relevant materials to:

Chair: Professor Philip Stern
Department of History
Duke University
226 Carr Building (East Campus)
Box 90719
Durham, NC 27708-0719  USA
Professor Shannon McSheffrey
Department of History, LB-1001
Concordia University
1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.
Montréal, QC    H3G 1M8    CANADA
Professor Tim Stretton
Department of History
Saint Mary's University
923 Robie Street
Halifax, NS   B3H 3C3  CANADA


John Ben Snow Prize 2016—Awarded to Mark Hanna (University of California, San Diego) for Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740 (University of North Carolina Press, 2015)

For quite some time we have tended to see piracy as a site of resistance to empire: flourishing on its margins, preying upon its wealth and power, and constructing a utopian space in which alternative models of class, status, law, race, gender, and even sovereignty could flourish. In Mark Hanna’s work, a completely different vision emerges, one in which the piratical enterprise was a feature rather than bug in an imperial system itself defined by violence and larceny, legal ambiguity, and incomplete and overlapping forms of jurisdictional power. From Elizabethan and Jacobean Atlantic privateers to Anglo-Americans roving the early eighteenth-century Indian Ocean, pirates both benefited from the expanding sinews of imperial power, ideology, and identity but also contributed to their construction. Hanna turns our attention away from the solitary and swashbuckling pirate and towards “pirate nests” — those outposts, settlements, and colonial communities that benefited from, protected, and often encouraged maritime predation as a source of commercial, political, and even cultural stability. In turn, as Hanna shows, it was only when imperial policymakers were able to turn those localities against piracy, and redefine piracy itself, that a more modern, centralized imperial state could attempt to expand across the seas in the eighteenth century. Hanna’s work thus builds upon and enriches in great depth and detail an emerging understanding of pirates not as objects of imperial policy but as active participants and litigants in it, and of piracy itself as a composite and elastic legal, economic, and political category. As such, Hanna’s archival plunder and buccaneering analysis offers a new history of piracy—and its relationship to state and empire formation—that will prove to be invaluable prize for historians for years to come.