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2007 Doctoral Students Awards

Judith Beyer (Max Planck Institute, Germany)

Imagining the state: How perceptions of the state influence customary law in two Kyrgyz communities

Beyer investigates the seemingly mutual co-existence between Kyrgyz communities and the state and argues that the latter is often not based on direct interaction, but rather on “images” the one has of the other. Beyer draws attention to the various reasons why the image of the state in the Kyrgyz communities under investigation is a positive one, amid the turmoil of last year’s revolution and the current demonstrations. The author uses the example of Kyrgyz customary law to show how the image of the state impacts on and shape local legal culture. Customary law, contrary to Scott (1985), is shown not as the “weapon of the weak” but rather as existing alongside state law. The study notes that villagers consider customary law a poor, though necessary substitute to the lack of state legal presence.

Connie Robinson (New School for Social Research, US)

Constructing Allies: The National Discourse of the Yugoslav Committees

Robinson proposes an investigation of the Yugoslav Committee, a group of London-based exiles who played a crucial role in advocating for the creation of the first Yugoslavia after the conclusion of World War I. The author finds that the discourse of the Committee not only reveals boundary-marking mechanisms used in creating binary oppositional national identities but also attempts to create points of similarity that allows them to be recognized as a nation by other nations, in this case, the British nation. A special care is given to the final step of international recognition and the diplomatic and political context that leads (or not) to international recognition. Interestingly, an examination of the Committee’s discourse reveal a construction of the “Other”, but also a summonal of images of an “allied nation”, Britain.

Tammy Lynch (Boston University, US)

Building a Revolution: Elite Choice and Opposition Tactics in Pre-Orange Ukraine

Largely based on interviews conducted during and following the Orange Revolution, this paper asks why a significant portion of Ukraine’s historically apathetic population rose up to demand a new type of government. Several scholars have identified factors present in Ukraine that allowed the “revolution” to succeed; this paper examines how these factors developed in the years prior to the protests of 2004. In particular, the paper demonstrates how earlier protests impacted those in 2004. It argues that elite tactics employed from 2000-2004 played an essential role in preparing society for the protests. Without this preparation, the protests would not have reached their “tipping point,” and without these lessons learned, political actors would not have been able to take advantage of the situation that presented itself.

Zsuzsanna Magdo (University of Illinois, US)

In Search of the True Hungarian

Magdo’s doctoral dissertation examines the meaning of the Pentecost Saturday Hungarian pilgrimage to the Transylvanian village of Csíksomlyó, which she argues has become a venue for promoting a an ideal Hungarian national identity that feeds off an idealized image of Transylvanian Hungarian identity. This leads the author to describe Transylvania Hungarian as a “nationalizing minority”, whose identity she defines as a construction of two 20th century socio-political and cultural ideologies, Transylvanism and Hungarian neopopulism. The study contributes to the study of nationalism by exploring the link between religion and nationalism, by challenging the unidirectional nature of Brubaker’s model of “triadic nexus” and by rendering accessible to western scholars Hungarian written material.

Wendy Pearlman (Harvard University, US)

The Nation in Fragments: Internal Unity and Nationalist Conflict in Three Palestinian Uprisings

Pearlman argues that most studies of nationalist violence have attributed aggression to largely instrumental determinants, such as manipulative leaders, and to particular ideological contents, leaving aside more mundane and institutional impetuses to violence. Violence is not only conditioned by the grievances of a particular nationalist movement towards the adversary, but also by the organization of relationships between actors inside the movement itself. The author argues that the likelihood a nationalist movement will pursue a path of violence or mass nonviolent mobilization is shaped by its degree of structural unity. The argument is evaluated through a comparison of the three major national uprisings in the history of the Palestinian national movement: the Arab Rebellion of 1936-69, the first Intifada beginning in 1987, and the second Intifada beginning in 2000.