APSA Prizes and Awards

In recognition of the work undertaken by those in the area of political studies, APSA make a number of awards each year.
Please note: several awards are made on a biennial basis.

Congratulations to APSA 2020 Prizes and Awards Winners!!

Mayer Journal Prize

  • Judging panel: Dr Annika Werner (Chair), Professor Sarah Maddison (University of Melbourne) and Emeritus Professor Garry Rodan (Editorial Board member, Murdoch University)
  • APSA 2020 Mayer Journal Prize WinnerElizabeth Strakosch (2019), ‘The technical is political: settler colonialism and the Australian Indigenous policy system’, Australian Journal of Political Science, 54:1, 114-130.
    • The judging committee unanimously decided to award the Mayer Journal Prize for the best article in the Australian Journal of Political Science published in 2019 to “The technical is political: settler colonialism and the Australian Indigenous policy system” by Elizabeth Strakosch. In this article, Strakosch analyses the relationship between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Australian state. Combining a critical theoretical approach with a deep empirical analysis of Australian polcies, Strakosch shows how the Anglophone settler mentality permeates Australian policy making. The committee specifically valued Strakosch’s perspective on policy as needing to be more than a uni-directional exercise of problematization and care giving, which she shows to be ultimately ineffecting. This article brings fundamental questions of sovereignty together with everyday policy making, which the committee hopes will impact future thinking about Australian politics and policies.

PhD Thesis Prize

  • Judging panel: Professor Helen Sullivan (Chair), Dr Helen Pringle (UNSW) and Dr Melissa Johnston (Monash – last year’s winner)
  • APSA 2020 PhD Thesis Prize Winner: Tezcan Gümüş (Deakin University) Turkey’s failure to consolidate democracy and the role of political leaders
    • The panel felt this was a powerful thesis that met all of our criteria and opened up a new area of enquiry into the power of leadership to shape the polity in Turkey. The analytical approach combining history with political movements and actor dispositions provides a sophisticated understanding of the role of political leaders and the impact of what the author describes as consistent ‘authoritarian tendencies’ across succeeding leaders. The focus on Turkey provides in depth analysis of an under researched and fascinating country case while also extending studies of political leadership more generally. It has some important lessons for our contemporary condition and the risks to democracy in countries with seemingly more secure democratic systems. The thesis contains important discussion of methodological and ethical challenges associated with qualitative research in specific contexts based on a very challenging experience of attempting fieldwork in a city where potential informants were being detained by the security services. It also demonstrates a deep appreciation for the importance of context (tradition, norms) in shaping how primary research is conducted.
  • Honorable Mention for: Jenna Price (University of Sydney) Destroying the joint: a case study of feminist digital activism in Australia and its account of fatal violence against women
    • The panel agreed this thesis was a well-crafted study of online feminist activism in Australia, with relevant contributions to theory, practice and policy. We considered its most important contribution went beyond the academy, and is located in the thesis’ didactic value for activism. That is, the insights and lessons learned from the study of online activism of “Destroying the Joint” have enormous transformative potential for politics. These lessons (for example, on emotional labour/capital inside activist groups), will only grow more important in years to come as online and in-real-life (IRL) activism merge. The thesis is empirically ambitious and rigorous, combining social media analysis with in-depth interviews.  It is theoretically and methodological coherent in applying theory (social capital; feminist theory; intersectional concerns) and matching feminist and thematic content analysis methods to the case of Destroying the Joint. The author is undoubtedly an accomplished writer, but in addition, the insider positionality of the author (as a feminist activist) allows the interviewees to open up to the author, whence those important lessons for activists and scholars of activism come. The insider positionality also allows a very nuanced and temporal understanding of the social media data used in the analysis. Finally, the development and application of the notion of emotional labour/capital in mediating intragroup conflict and fighting trolls went beyond existing theory, adding new knowledge to feminist theory.

Crisp Prize

  • Judging panel: Associate Professor Paul Fawcett (Chair), Dr Peter Tangney (Flinders), and Professor Louise Chappell (UNSW)
  • APSA 2020 Crisp Prize Winner: Sarah Phillips (University of Sydney) 2020, When There Was No Aid: War and Peace in Somaliland, Cornell University Press
    • Judging panel comments: Sarah Phillips’s book is a remarkable study that is an example of some of the very finest research and scholarship to emerge from political science and international relations in recent years. Theoretically sophisticated, beautifully written and drawing on in-depth and sustained fieldwork conducted over many years, Phillips draws on an impressive array of literature to challenge longstanding presumptions about violence and poverty in the global South. Crafted around a central case study of war and peace in Somaliland, Phillips draws important comparative insights that convincingly debunk longstanding notions that intervention by actors in the global North is self-evidently useful in ending violence and poverty, and that the quality of a country’s governance institutions necessarily determines the level of peace and civil order that the country experiences. Her argument shows how Somaliland’s post-conflict peace is grounded less in the constraining power of its institutions than in a powerful discourse about the country’s structural, temporal, and physical proximity to war to such a degree that even the inability of institutions to provide reliable security can stabilize a prolonged period of peace. Phillip’s argument is marshalled into an extremely readable and accessible text, making this book appealing to both experts and non-experts alike. Already receiving well justified praise and a wide readership, When There Was No Aid: War and Peace in Somaliland, is destined to become a landmark text in the fields of development, international affairs, peace, conflict and security studies.

Thelma Hunter Gender and Politics PhD Prize

  • Judging panel: Dr Jill Sheppard (Chair), Dr Zoe Robinson (Deakin) and Associate Professor Emma Hutchison (UQ)
  • APSA 2020 Thelma Hunter Gender and Politics PhD Prize Winner: Federica Caso (University of Queensland) Liberal Militarisation: Visualising the Military Body as a Form of Governance
    • Judging panel comments: This is an exquisitely written thesis that examines the role of the body in public representations of military and militarisation. It takes an abstract and complex subject, and makes it accessible and important. The thesis is the best kind of example of critical academic research: it interrogates something that we see and experience throughout our lives – in this case, official military art and military commemorations – and proposes ways of understanding its existence and its effects on society. The author reflects thoughtfully on her own position as a researcher and generally displays the intellect and maturity of an experienced academic. The thesis left the prize committee chair – an empiricist with limited understanding of critical theory, let alone military studies – wanting to read more. The committee was unanimous in awarding this prize to Dr Caso.


  • Judging panel: Dr Siobhan O’Sullivan (UNSW Chair), Chris Walker (ANZSOG), Tim Legrand (Adelaide) and Avery Poole (ANZSOG).
  • ANZSOG 2020 Prize Winner: Kari Lancaster (UNSW) – Lancaster, K. Lancaster, K., Rhodes, T., & Rance, J. (2019) “Towards eliminating viral hepatitis”: Examining the productive capacity and constitutive effects of global policy on hepatitis C elimination. International Journal of Drug Policy, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.02.008.
    • Judging panel comments: This is an engaging and well-written article which draws attention to the performative aspects of global health strategies, and in so doing makes important theoretical and empirical contributions to policy studies’. Another said, ‘Excellent piece – it is really provocative in unsettling orthodox assumptions about the nature of policy problems. It is innovative in its use of feminist theory to reveal the subtexts of problem-formulation through the case study on WHO Hep C strategy. It is meticulously researched and written.

Postgraduate Paper Prize

  • Judging panel: Professor Duncan McDonnell (Chair), Professor Rodney Smith, Dr Annika Werner, Paige Fletcher, A/Professor Paul Fawcett, Dr. Sung-Young Kim, Dr. Jill Sheppard
  • APSA 2020 Postgraduate Paper Prize Winner: James Hayne (ANU), Media Coverage of Opinion Polling: Does the Media Favour Historically Accurate Pollsters?
    • Judging panel comments: James’s paper systematically analyses the accuracy of polls in the United States over a 20 year timeframe and argues that media outlets have not punished historically inaccurate pollsters. The paper is striking for its clarity, theoretical and empirical sophistication, as well as its relevance for the quality of modern democracies, pointing to a crucial failure of the media when reporting about upcoming elections. James’s discussant, Aaron Martin, observed that the paper “adds important information to key debates about how pollsters conduct their business and how the media cover the polls they produce”.
  • Honorable Mention for: Lian Sinclair (Murdoch University), How ‘Australian’ are Australian multinational miners? Why it matters for social and environmental conflict
    • Judging panel comments: Lian’s paper provides a sophisticated theoretical and empirical analysis of Australian mining corporations and their overseas operations to persuasively argue that the domestic political power of Australian mining corporations does not systematically translate to their international operations. It generates significant findings for understanding the corporate influence and power of Australian mining companies.   

Academic Leadership in Political Science Award

  • Judging panel: Dr Narelle Miragliotta (Chair), Professor Ariadne Vromen (University of Sydney), and Dr Rob Manwaring (Flinders)
  • APSA 2020 Academic Leadership in Political Science Award Winner: Professor Rodney Smith (University of Sydney)
    • It is with enormous pleasure that the selection committee announces that Professor Rodney Smith is the recipient of the Academic Leadership in Political Science Award in 2020. Professor Smith has an exemplary record of mentoring colleagues at Sydney University (his home institution) and also scholars within the wider Australian political science community. This also includes his longstanding involvement on the APSA Executive, serving previously as Treasurer and currently as APSA President. Professor Smith’s nominees referred to his ability to foster a collegial scholarly community, his unfailing support of colleagues while also gently challenging them intellectually, and his capacity to lead with kindness and generosity. His achievements are captured in the words of one of his nominees who wrote Professor Rodney Smith “is an excellent scholar of leadership—this excellence is informed by a life of reflective practice of leadership”.
  • Special commendation for: Associate Professor Ben Isakhan (Deakin University)
    • The selection committee also wishes to extend a special commendation to Associate Professor Ben Isakhan. The committee noted Associate Professor Isakhan’s dedication in mentoring colleagues and his role in establishing the Politics and International Studies (Polis) research network at Deakin University. As noted by one of his endorsers, Associate Professor Ben Isakhan is “an excellent mentor, and has dedicated a great deal of time to developing the careers of his junior colleagues”.  

Annual Prizes and Awards:

Biennial Prizes and Awards:

Other Non-APSA Awards