The Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration Distinguished Book Award recognizes the best book published over the past two years in the study of the international politics of ethnicity, nationalism, or migration. The criteria for the award include the originality of the argument, quality of the research, ability to draw on the insights of the multiple disciplines, innovative methods or methodological syntheses, readability of the text, and policy or practical implications of the scholarship. This year a total of 26 books were submitted to the Book Award Committee, which was composed of Stephen Deets (Chair), Babson College; Phil Orchard, University of Queensland; and Ozgur Ozdamar, Bilkent Unversity.
The committee is pleased to announce the winner of the 2014 Distinguished Book Award and two Honorable Mentions. The 2014 Distinguished Book Award goes to Fotini Christia, Alliance Formation in Civil Wars (Cambridge). The Honorable Mentions are Christine Chin, Cosmopolitan Sex Workers: Women and Migration in a Global City (Oxford) and Sherrill Stroschein, Ethnic Struggle, Coexistence, and Democratization in Eastern Europe (Cambridge).
Alliance Formation in Civil Wars starts with the question of why alliances shift so frequently in deeply factionalized multiparty civil wars. Using an impressive depth and array of data, Dr. Christia argues that specific conditions on the ground, changes in relative power, and the hopes and fears embodied in ideas of minimal winning coalitions best explain the dynamics of shifting alliances. Narratives of historic, religious, ethnic, or blood ties are then used to justify strategic shifts. Afghanistan serves as her primary case as she examines mid-level dynamics during the civil war from 1992-1998 and the communist-mujahedin war from 1979-1989 and at the commander level across the entire period. Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1992-1995 and 1941-1945 is used as a secondary case. The final chapter extends the theory to several other cases. What is especially noteworthy is her extensive fieldwork, including interviews with about 70 of commanders and political actors in Afghanistan and Bosnia-Herzgovina, and her use of quantitative methods, which she effectively employs to rule out alternate explanations. Despite the complexity of the cases and the multiple methods, Dr. Christia has written a compelling, lucid, and highly readable book.
While many books were excellent and worthy of recognition, the committee
recognized two books as Honorable Mentions. In Cosmopolitan Sex Workers
, Christine Chin focuses on non-trafficked sex workers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. One the one hand, it is a study relying on hard data, international relations perspectives, and interdisciplinary frameworks to show how neo-liberal economic policies create new opportunities for women's employment in globalizing cities, encouraging new patterns of internal and international migration. The book also examines how state policies around border control, especially around tourism and education, give rise to creative responses in the organization of sex work. Through the fascinating and nuanced portraits of individual women, Dr. Chin raises important questions about the complexities of cultural change and women's empowerment that accompany neo-liberalism; as a result, it is clear no easy generalizations can be made about these topics. Sherrill Stroschein's Ethnic Struggle, Coexistence, and Democratization in Eastern Europe
challenges much of the conventional wisdom about minority protest. In the book, she makes two core claims. First is that in many cases minority protests bubble up from below, causing leaders to follow the masses. Second is that in new and weak democracies, minority protest and counter-protest by titular majorities can serve as a form of deliberate democracy, providing critical information to ordinary citizens on each side and enhancing democracy. To reach these conclusions, Dr. Stroschein uses an array of local cases involving the Hungarian minority in Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine in the 1990s, and, like Fotini Christia's book, the data collected is impressive. She interviewed large numbers of individuals in each country, reconstructs events with the help of local newspaper accounts in multiple languages, and uses a novel form of event analysis to illustrate the dynamics of protests and counter-protests as well as when elites get involved. In addition, Dr. Stroschein lived with Hungarian and non-Hungarian families in Romania, Slovakia, and Ukraine, providing a wealth material on the perspectives of ordinary citizens.