2017 ISA Theory Section Book and Paper Awards


22 March 2018, 2041 EDT

Theory Section is pleased to announce the following recipients of our 2017 book and paper awards, to be awarded at the 2018 Annual Convention in San Francisco. Thank you to all who submitted books and papers for consideration for these awards and to those who served on the award selection committees.
Congratulations to all of the winners!
Theory Book Award:
Emma Hutchison (University of Queensland), Affective Communities in World Politics (Cambridge University Press)
Emotions underpin how political communities are formed and function. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in times of trauma. The emotions associated with suffering caused by war, terrorism, natural disasters, famine and poverty can play a pivotal role in shaping communities and orientating their politics. This book investigates how ‘affective communities’ emerge after trauma. Drawing on several case studies and an unusually broad set of interdisciplinary sources, it examines the role played by representations, from media images to historical narratives and political speeches. Representations of traumatic events are crucial because they generate socially embedded emotional meanings which, in turn, enable direct victims and distant witnesses to share the injury, as well as the associated loss, in a manner that affirms a particular notion of collective identity. While ensuing political orders often re-establish old patterns, traumatic events can also generate new ’emotional cultures’ that genuinely transform national and transnational communities.

Post-PhD Prize

Zoltán Búzás (Drexel University), ‘Lost in Legal Translation: How Legalization Allows Human Rights Violations’

The committee was deeply impressed by the paper ‘Lost in Legal Translation: How Legalization Allows Human Rights Violations’ written by Zoltán Búzás from Drexel University. Developing a theory of evasion practices, Búzás explains why legalization of norms can counter-intuitively hinder the prevention of human rights violations. Based on substantial original research into France’s expulsion of Roma immigrants (2008-2016) and the Czech Republic’s placement of Roma children in schools for those with mild mental disability (1993-2016), the theoretical arguments are nicely interwoven with rich and detailed empirical material. Well grounded in the existing scholarship on norms research and legalization, the piece represents a major contribution to the norms literature, as well as the literature on human rights. The paper especially impressed us by the engagement with and utilization of legal theory and the novel theoretical proposal. In addition to its substantive contribution, which made the paper prize-worthy already, it is extremely well-written and developed, methodologically sound, and with insights that will be of wide interest to both scholars and practitioners.

Edited Volume, Special Issue, Symposium Award
Tim Dunne (University of Queensland) and Christian Reus-Smit (University of Queensland), The Globalization of International Society (Oxford University Press)

The Globalization of International Society re-examines the development of today’s society of sovereign states, drawing on a wealth of new scholarship to challenge the landmark account presented in Bull and Watson’s classic work, The Expansion of International Society (OUP, 1984). For Bull and Watson, international society originated in Europe, and expanded as successive waves of new states were integrated into a rule-governed order. International society, on their view, was thus a European cultural artefact – a claim that is at odds with recent scholarship in history, politics, and related fields of research.

Bringing together leading scholars from Asia, Australia, Europe, and the United States, this book provides an alternative account: it draws out the diversity of polities that existed at around c1500; it shows how interacting identities, political orders, and economic forces were intensifying within and across regions; it details the tangled dynamics that helped to globalize the European conception of a pluralist international society, through patterns of warfare and between East and West.

The Globalization of International Society examines the institutional contours of contemporary international society, with its unique blend of universal sovereignty and global law, and its forms of hierarchy that coexist with commitments to international human rights. The book explores the multiple forms of contestation that challenge international society today: contests over the limits of sovereignty in relation to cosmopolitan conceptions of responsibility, disputes over global governance, concerns about persistent economic, racial, and gender-based patterns of disadvantage, and lastly the threat to the established order opened up by the disruptive power of digital communications.

Pre-PhD Prize

Anette Stimmer (University of Oxford), ‘Norm life cycle or norm square? Norm contestation of sovereignty and territorial integrity in the post-Cold War era’

This paper, ‘Norm life cycle or norm square? Norm contestation of sovereignty and territorial integrity in the post-Cold War Era’, by Anette Stimmer, makes a significant contribution to norms debates in IR.  Stimmer connects the widely-known and popular concepts of the norm life cycle to more recent critical constructivist insights concerning the nature of norm contestation.  Stimmer constructs a four-fold typology of norm and frame contestation that provides analytical purchase on the vast potential variety of contestation processes. Its detailed, rich, and wide-ranging empirical engagement is nicely interwoven with the innovative theoretical strands of the argument. An especially useful aspect of the paper is the detailed empirical illustrations of the four types of norm and frame contestation.  This careful research makes a compelling case for the utility of the theoretical argument.  The paper thus makes a novel contribution to the literature on norms research that should command wide attention.

Scott Hamilton (LSE), ‘Securing Ourselves from Ourselves? The Paradox of “Entanglement” in the Anthropocene’

This paper develops a creative perspective on the security implications of thinking with the concept of the Anthropocene through a discussion of ontological security, an approach which powerfully helps us grasp the stakes of these debates. The paper makes a complex ethical case based on humanity’s disentanglement from ‘nature’, developed through a critique of recent (posthuman) arguments about humanity’s enmeshment with the world and the ethical/agential implications that flow from this. In addition to its contributions to the IR theory literature and advancing theorizations about the Anthropocene, this paper also connects with and provides interventions of interests to a wide range of scholars working in international studies more broadly, including environmental studies, political theory and ethics.