Awards

APCG Awards

Each year, the African Politics Conference Group confers five awards to recognize exceptional scholarship in the study of African Politics.  The most recent recipients and honorable mentions for these awards are highlighted here. Past award winners are also documented below.

2017 Award Winners

Past award winners are found here.

Best Dissertation (Hon. Mention): Charlie Taylor

Best Student Paper

“Unprincipled Principals: Co-opted Bureaucrats and Corruption in Local Governments in Ghana.” Sarah Brierley
Brierley asks whether, as one might expect, politician oversight of (and ability to punish) bureaucrats reduces corruption. She argues, contrary to conventional wisdom, that politician discretion and oversight actually increases corruption, because politicians can coerce bureaucrats into assisting in their graft. To provide evidence for this claim, Brierley fielded an original survey with over 800 Ghanaian bureaucrats. She uses a number of survey methodologies designed to improve the accuracy of sensitive information (e.g., list experiments and randomized response). She finds that corruption — measured as giving contracts preferentially to politically connected companies — is more prevalent in contexts where mayors have the power to sanction non-cooperative bureaucrats by transferring them. She provides two additional pieces of evidence for the punishment mechanism: the effects are larger in desirable posts, where the potential costs for non-compliant bureaucrats are highest, and she shows that bureaucrats understand transfers to be driven by retaliation for noncompliance with political corruption. Brierley does a great job of weaving together rigorous quantitative survey methods with compelling qualitative evidence gathered through interviews. Overall, Brierley’s paper is a testament to the value of using multiple methods, and of grounding general, theoretical questions in deep knowledge of a particular context. And, the paper has the rare but irresistible quality of building a theory where each step in the causal chain makes perfect sense, but taken together they lead us to an unexpected conclusion: political oversight of bureaucrats makes corruption worse, not better.

Committee:

  • Amanda Lea Robinson
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Best Dissertation

“Looking For Leverage: Hard Bargaining and US-Africa Security Partnerships” Sobukwe Odinga

Sobukwe Odinga’s Looking for Leverage: Hard Bargaining and US-African Security Partnerships is an exemplary dissertation that works at the intersection of international relations theory and African politics. Since at least the late 1970s, a large and influential body of research has focused on the theoretical and empirical underpinnings of state weakness in the African context, and on the consequences of that weakness in the international sphere. Perhaps the most influential of these efforts comes from the work of J.F. Bayart, who coined the concept of “extraversion” to describe how African political elites and their regimes have used their internal weakness to “instrumentalize” aid from Western donors to their own domestic advantage. What has been less explored, however, are how these “extraversion” efforts actually unfold within the realm of international relations itself, and how global powers like the United States actually interact with allegedly “weak” African states over issues of their own national interest.
 
Looking For Leverage, then, begins with a basic puzzle. While the IR literature on security alliances generally suggests that weak states are rarely in a position to “drive hard bargains with their more powerful allies,” African states that make agreements to share intelligence, military base accommodations, and engage in collaborative military interventions have often extracted significant concessions from the U.S. despite Africa’s allegedly “marginal” position in the U.S.’s security strategy. His answer, developed through careful study of U.S archival documents accessed via declassification, FOIA request, and Wikileaks, is that African states that invest in military, security, and intelligence collaborations with the U.S. are often surprisingly good at leveraging these connections to advance their own interests. In large part because such agreements and relationships are difficult and costly to replace and because there are relatively few organized lobbying interests in the U.S. to challenge the concessions it makes to authoritarian and illiberal states in the region, countries like Ethiopia and Uganda that have emerged as important security partners in the global war on terror have been able to achieve surprising concessions based on threats to restrict intelligence sharing and military cooperation. As more and more evidence of the U.S.’s investment in military operations on the continent emerges and is made public, Mr. Odinga’s work will hopefully emerge as one of the best and most important contributions to a revitalized and re-centered study of African international relations in the coming years.

Best Dissertation
(Honorable Mention):

“Ethnic Politics and Campaign Strategies in Contemporary Africa: Evidence from Kenya and Ghana” – Charlie Taylor

Committee:

  • Brendan Kendelhammer
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Past Award Winners

Best Book Award

2013:

Rachel Beatty Riedl, Authoritarian Origins of Democratic Party Systems in Africa (Cambridge University Press

2012.

Leonardo Arriola, Multiethnic Coalitions in Africa: Business Financing of Opposition Election Campaigns (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012)

Crawford Young, The Postcolonial State in Africa: Fifty Years of Independence, 1960-2010 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012).

2011: 

Adrienne LeBas, From Protest to Parties. Party-Building and Democratization in Africa (Oxford University Press, 2011).

2010:

Charles Piot, Nostalgia for the Future: West Africa after the Cold War (University of Chicago Press, 2010).

2009:

Pierre Englebert, Africa: Unity, Sovereignty, and Sorrow (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2009).

2008: 

Susanna D. Wing, Constructing Democracy in Transitioning Societies of Africa: Constitutionalism and Deliberation in Mali (Palgrave-MacMillan, 2008).

2007: 

Elizabeth Schmidt, Cold War and Decolonization in Guinea, 1946-1958 (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2007).

2006:

Joshua B. Rubongoya, Regime Hegemony in Museveni’s Uganda (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2006).

2005: 

Dan Posner, Institutions and Ethnic Politics in Africa (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

2004: 

Dennis Galvan, The State Must Be Our Master of Fire: How Peasants Craft Culturally Sustainable Development in Senegal (University of California Press, 2004).​

Best Article

2013:

Dominika Koter, “Kingmakers: Local Leaders and Ethnic Politics in Africa,” World Politics 65 (2): 187-232.

2012: 

Séverine Autesserre, “Dangerous Tales: Dominant Narratives on the Congo and their Unintended Consequences,” African Affairs 111, 413 (April 2012)

2011: 

Claire Adida, “Too Close for Comfort? Immigrant Exclusion in Africa.” Comparative Political Studies 44 (2011): 1370–1396.

2010: 

Mireille Razafindrakoto and François Roubaud for “Are International Databases on Corruption Reliable? A Comparison of Expert Opinion Surveys and Household Surveys in Sub-Saharan Africa,” World Development, Vol.38, No.8: 1057–1069.

2009: 

Leonardo R. Arriola, “Patronage and Political Stability in Africa,” Comparative Political Studies, October 2009, 42 (10).

2008: 

Susanne D. Mueller, “The Political Economy of Kenya’s Crisis,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 2 (2): 185–210.

2007:

Lahra Smith, “Voting for an Ethnic Identity: Procedural and Institutional Responses to Ethnic Conflict in Ethiopia,” Journal of Modern African Studies 45, no. 4: 565–594.

2006:

Macartan Humphreys and Jeremy Weinstein, “Handling and Manhandling Civilians in Civil War,” American Political Science Review 100 (3): 429–448.

2004:

Eghosa E. Osaghae. “Political Transitions and Ethnic Conflict in Africa.” Journal of Third World Studies, Vol. XXI, No. 1 (2004), pp. 221-240.e

APCG-Lynne Rienner Best Dissertation Award

2012:

Janet Lewis, How Rebellion Begins: Insurgent Group Formation and Viability in Uganda, Harvard University, 2012, PhD Dissertation

2011: 

Jaimie Bleck, Schooling Citizens: Education, Citizenship, and Democracy in Mali, Cornell University, 2011, PhD Dissertation

2010:

Jennifer Naomi Brass, Surrogates for Government? NGOs and the State in Kenya, University of California, Berkeley, 2010 , PhD Dissertation.

APCG-African Affairs Best Graduate Student Paper Award

2012:

Amanda Robinson, PhD Candidate, Stanford University, “Nationalism and Inter-Ethnic Trust: Evidence from an African Border Region”

2011: 

Robin Harding, PhD Candidate, New York University, “One for the Road: Voting for Public Goods in Ghana”

2010:

Peace Medie, PhD Candidate, University of Pittsburgh, “Theorizing Policy Implementation: Enforcing Gender-Based Violence Laws in Post-Conflict Liberia.”

2009:

Kim Yi Dionne, “Local Demand for a Global Intervention: Policy Priorities in the Time of AIDS” (2009 APSA Annual Meeting).