Doctoral Student Awards

2009 Best Doctoral Student Papers Awards

The Program Committee of the ASN Convention, held on 23-25 April 2009 at Columbia University, is pleased to announce the winners of the fifth annual ASN Doctoral Student Awards. Chosen from among 89 doctoral students participating in the 2009 Convention, the six winners presented impressive papers in history and political science demonstrating extensive research and innovative analyses of nationalities issues past and present. This year's winners in the competition's five regional/thematic sections are:

Winners

Sofia Sebastian

Category: The Balkans
Sofia Sebastian (London School of Economics, UK)

A Three Level Framework of Analysis for State Building Processes: Lessons from Bosnia

Drawing from the literature on conflict regulation and other plural society theories, this paper provides a framework of analysis to explore the dynamics involved in the external state building process in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). The analysis is based on a three level framework whereby patterns of conflict regulation are analyzed at the inter- and intra-ethnic levels, as well as what this article terms the 'supra' ethnic level, where interactions between domestic and external actors are considered. In order to explore these issues empirically, this paper examines the process of constitutional reform in BiH over the course of 2005-2006, drawing from personal interviews. The paper concludes that, while the assistance provided by external actors has proven substantial, the neglect of intra-ethnic dynamics and other related considerations have often rendered external actors' efforts at shaping the state building process in BiH ineffective.


Jennie Schulze

Category: Central Europe
Jennie Schulze (George Washington University, US)

Integration and Nation-building in Estonia and Latvia: Elite Discourses after EU Accession

This paper contributes to previous research on the impact of EU conditionality and kin-state activism on minority policies in Estonia and Latvia by addressing two primary research questions: 1) How are pressure from European institutions and from Russia to integrate the Russian minority understood by policy elites in Estonia and Latvia?; and 2) How do these types of international pressure influence both the development of minority policies and elite understandings of minority inclusion in the post-accession period? This study goes beyond previous studies on the effects of international pressure on the development of minority policies in these cases by problematizing elite attitudes and understandings in the post-accession period. The study ultimately calls the success of EU conditionality into question by demonstrating that minority rights norms are neither universally understood nor internalized by elites in these societies. In addition, scholars need to examine more closely the ways in which EU conditionality and kin-state pressure interact and may at times work at cross-purposes with one another. Russia's activism aggravates interethnic tensions and has the ability cultivate and perpetuate “myths” in society that work against the integration process and the internalization of European minority rights norms by elites.


Fredrik Sjoberg

Category: Eurasia
Fredrik Sjoberg (Uppsala University, Sweden)

Explaining Electoral Competitiveness in Kyrgyzstan: Moving Beyond the "Clan" Hypothesis

A parliamentary candidate survey (n=160) is presented with a focus on the identity discourse, and more specifically on the "Clan" (kinship) discourse. I examine how political elites in Kyrgyzstan define themselves in terms of identity categories and I challenge the idea that there actually are "Clan" groups that possess agency characteristics. A "Clan" in the Kyrgyz sense of the word, uruu/uruk, is shown to be something that necessarily involves kinship, therefore refuting Collins metaphorical understanding of the phenomenon. Yes, candidates do attach importance to genealogical knowledge, but this does not mean that such imagined communities actually exist as corporate groups. The reason for the politization of these genealogical categories can be found in the incentive structure of the electoral system (SMD), the causal mechanism being: contests were localized and fairly open; no viable national-level parties nor viable ideologies existed; some political entrepreneurs turned to imagined 'clans' instead to frame their candidacy.


Barbara Junisbai

Category: Eurasia
Barbara Junisbai (Indiana University, US)

Economic Reform Regimes, Elite Defections, and Political Opposition in the Post-Soviet States: Evidence from Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan

This paper is an investigation of political opposition movements in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus, three autocracies governed by personalist presidents, but which exhibit markedly different degrees of economic liberalization. I find that in post-Soviet autocracies where state-run enterprises have been privatized, as in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, defectors from the business elite have actively and openly contested the president's right to rule, injecting money and other much-needed resources into the opposition. In contrast, where the economy remains centralized and under state control, as in Belarus, business elites are unlikely to provide financial support or defect to the opposition. These findings suggest that market reforms can inadvertently facilitate open contestation among elite groups within the ruling coalition and aid the accumulation of resources independent of the state upon which elites can draw to challenge personalist autocrats. 


Erik Scott

Category: Caucasus Russia Ukraine
Erik Scott (Univeristy of California, Berkeley, US)

Familiar Strangers: The Georgian Diaspora in the Soviet Union 

The divergent views of sovereignty and history that inform Russian-Georgian relations cannot be understood without considering the paradoxical experience of Georgians in the Soviet Union. The arrival of the Red Army in Tbilisi in 1921 brought Georgia's brief period of independence to an abrupt end. Yet membership in the multiethnic Soviet empire opened up new opportunities for the Georgian diaspora. Representatives of this small ethnic group from were strikingly visible at each stage of Soviet history. Stalin was just one of a group of Georgian revolutionaries who came to power in the 1920s and 1930s. After Stalin, when leisure became increasingly important to Soviet citizens, the Georgian restaurant offered the promise of escape from the drudgery of Soviet urban life. In the subsequent age of détente, Georgian cultural entrepreneurs performed in Moscow and abroad as recognizably ethnic entertainers. At the same time, Georgians emerged as dominant traders in the burgeoning underground economy. On the basis of Russian and Georgian-language archival research and interviews, this paper brings the character and practices of the Georgian diaspora to light for the first time.


Laia Balcells

Category: Nationalism
Laia Balcells (Yale University, US)

Explaining Civilian Victimization During Internal Conflict: A Comparative Approach to Conventional Civil Wars

This paper distinguishes between "direct" and "indirect" violence during conventional civil wars. These two types differ in their forms of production: while indirect violence is unilaterally perpetrated by the armed group, direct violence is jointly produced by the armed group and civilians, and it hinges on local collaboration. These differences have consequences for the spatial variation of each of these types: indirect violence is hypothesized to be positively associated with levels of prewar support for the enemy group; in contrast, direct violence is hypothesized to increase together with the level of political parity between factions in a locality. The predictions are tested with self-collected data from 1,710 municipalities in Catalonia and Aragon during the Spanish civil war (1936-1939).


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