The Professor Riaz Hassan Prize for Best Honours Thesis

The Australian Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (AAIMS) is pleased to announce Anthony Allison (pictured) of the Australian National University as the 2021 winner of the Professor Riaz Hassan Prize for Best Honours Thesis.

Anthony received this prestigious award for his outstanding thesis “The Prince and the Torpor”: Social Change in Saudi Arabia. 

Since the start of Saudi Vision 2030, an economic diversification programme, in 2016, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has witnessed a significant amount of social change. A number of commentators have highlighted the unprecedented nature of the change. The goal of this thesis, therefore, is to explore the nature of this social change. In doing so, this thesis will answer two questions. One, what social change has occurred under Vision 2030. Two, what factors are responsible for the extent of this change. This thesis argues that three factors are responsible: one, Mohammed bin Salman, in his desire for social change, his institutional power to achieve this change and his use of state repression to prevent opposition; two, the youth’s desire for social change, caused by socio-economic stress produced by high unemployment and severe boredom, has allowed the social change to progress at a faster rate; and three, the decline of the ‘ulamā’s power relative to the monarchy, to the extent that they are no longer able to oppose social change as they have historically done.

Signalling its commitment to promote knowledge and scholarship in Islamic and Muslim studies, AAIMS offers this prize for the most outstanding Honours thesis in the field. It is hoped that this annual prize will serve to encourage junior scholars to pursue further research in the inter-disciplinary field of Islamic and Muslim studies.

The award is named after Emeritus Professor Riaz Hassan OAM, who has been a foundational figure in Islamic Studies in Australia and has held positions of eminence at Flinders University, the National University of Singapore (NUS), Gadjah Mada University, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Yale University.