The Chulia in Penang wins ICAS Colleagues’ Choice Award


The Colleagues’ Choice Award presented to Khoo Salma Nasution by Prof Purnendra Jain of Adelaide University



The Chulia in Penang wins

ICAS Colleagues’ Choice Award 2015

The Chulia in Penang


Areca Books is delighted to announce that The Chulia in Penang: Patronage and Place-Making around the Kapitan Kling Mosque 1786–1957  by Khoo Salma Nasution has won the Colleagues’ Choice Award.

Out of a total of 175 books submitted by publishers from all over the world, Areca Books’ The Chulia in Penang has won one of the five top ICAS Book Prizes. The award was presented at the ICAS 9 Conference held in Adelaide from 5–9 July 2015.

The Chulia in Penang was also one of six books which made it to the ICAS Best Study in the Humanities 2015 shortlist.






The Star, Nation, Friday July 10, 2015, BY CAVINA LIM

M’sian author wins book prize

GEORGE TOWN: Author Khoo Salma Nasution (pic) could not imagine herself winning the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS) Book Prize 2015 as she was still firmly behind the favourite as the voting process was about to conclude.

Her fortune changed for the better after The Star ran an article about her book, The Chulia in Penang: Patronage and Place-Making around the Kapitan Kling Mosque 1786–1957, an account of the prosperous Penang Tamil Muslims who were once known as Chulias.

Undoubtedly, the article helped draw some deciding votes for her publication that had to compete with 175 books and 50 dissertations for the top prize.

On July 6, she received The Colleagues’ Choice Award, one of the five categories of the ICAS Book Prizes 2015 awards in Penang’s sister city Adelaide, Australia, where the ICAS conference, the premier international gathering in Asian Studies and Asia-related research, is being held.

The prize recognises the best English-language books and dissertations in Asian Studies of the past two years, focusing on the humanities and social sciences.

“Winning the ICAS Book Prize Colleagues’ Choice Award is an honour and I owe it all to my friends who voted for me,” said the Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) president in an email yesterday.

“I am proud to say that I had various groups of people trying to mobilise votes for me, especially members of the community I wrote about, for example, the people at Kapitan Kling Mosque and the Indian Muslim Community Organisation Malaysia and friends in Tamil Nadu, in particular filmmaker S. Anwar who also mobilised votes for me in India.

“It means a lot to me to know that the Tamil Muslim community which I wrote about are proud of the book.

“My friends translated the call to vote for the book into Malay, Tamil, Chinese, Indonesian, Thai and Arabic.

“My friends in the sister cities of Phuket and Adelaide also mobilised support,” she said of her book which can be purchased at



Citation by ICAS Reading Committee

Khoo Salma Nasution, The Chulia in Penang: Patronage and Place-Making around the Kapitan Kling Mosque 1786-1957. Areca Books: Penang 2014

This is a comprehensive study from multiple perspectives of the great mosque established by the Tamil Muslim community in Penang in the early 19th century. Primarily an engaging social history, it places the sacred site at the centre of a wide-ranging enquiry into the evolution of a diaspora and the role of the mosque as an expression of that community’s identity. Issues of gender, diet, architecture, and many others are used to illustrate the social and economic worlds of the mosque, as well as its religious processes. Accessible to both students and scholars and illustrated with a wealth of historical photographs and drawings this is an important work, a model of its kind and one to enjoy as well to enlighten. The depth of research is remarkable, and the range of enquiry admirable.



Praise for The Chulia in Penang

“The Chulia in Penang has set a benchmark for future explorations of communal pasts in Malaysia, and has provided a background to issues of identity that are still pertinent today.”

Barbara Andaya, Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society

“an exemplary local history, rooted in a profound depth of local cultural knowledge”
Sunil Amrith, author, Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants

“deserves to be at the top of the league in diasporic studies”
Raj Brown, author, Islam in Modern Thailand: Faith, Philanthropy and Politics

“encyclopaedic and impeccable”
Ameer Ali, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs

About ICAS and the Book Prize

 ICAS stands for the International Convention of Asia Scholars, which orgnises a conference which attracts about a thousand scholars bi-annually.

This year, 175 books were submitted for the ICAS Book Prize. The Chulia in Penang was one of six books shortlisted for the ICAS Book Prize 2015 Best Study in the Humanities.

To purchase the book, click here

To read more about Tamil Muslim diaspora, patronage and place-making, click here

The Chulia in Penang book cover