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Sidney M. Edelstein Prize

Established in 1968 through the generosity of the late Dr. Sidney Edelstein, a noted expert on the history of dyes, founder of a successful specialty chemical manufacturing firm, and 1988 recipient of SHOT’s Leonardo da Vinci Award, the Edelstein Prize is awarded by SHOT to the author of an outstanding scholarly book in the history of technology published during any of the three years preceding the award. The prize, donated by Ruth Edelstein Barish and her family in memory of Sidney Edelstein and his commitment to excellence in scholarship in the history of technology, consists of $3500 and a plaque.

Recipient of the 2023 Sidney M. Edelstein Prize

Winner of the 2023 Edelstein Prize, Stephan F. Miescher (left), and SHOT President Gabrielle Hecht. (Photo S. Miescher)

Stephan F. Miescher, University of California, Santa Barbara

For: A Dam for Africa: Akosombo Stories from Ghana (Indiana University Press, 2022)

Stephan Miescher’s A Dam for Africa is a wonderfully rich, broadly diverse, and deeply-researched study centered on the Akosombo Dam across the Volta Riven in Ghana. Miescher’s extensive archival and oral history research spans continents, and reveals the many different and often surprising ways that this large-scale hydroelectric dam project was connected with local, regional, and transnational politics and political economy. The Akosombo Dam came into existence through these connections: anti-colonial Pan-Africanism, Ghanian national politics, British postcolonial policy, the structures of the international aluminum industry, modernist architecture and regional planning, modernization theory, the nonalignment movement, US and Soviet Cold War policy, and more. Importantly, Miescher’s oral history work with displaced Ghanaians, plant workers, foreign managers, local government administrators, and others delicately reveals the equivocal experience of the Akosombo Dam for everyone involved. Miescher’s Akosombo stories are complex stories of overlapping and diverging interests, of harms and benefits, of materials and people. Further, Miescher’s expansive methodology encompasses participating in a documentary film, Ghana’s Electric Dreams, that accompanies A Dam for Africa and is freely available online.