Michael Nicholson Thesis Prize 2012

About the prize

The annual prize for the best doctoral thesis in International Studies is an important way in which the Association supports the work of new scholars. The prize has promoted outstanding work in many sub-fields over the years. It would be helpful if External Examiners would suggest the possibility of nomination for the prize to Departments when evaluating particularly good doctorates, and the Association would like to encourage relevant Departmental Graduate and/or Research Committees to establish a standing item regarding nominations for prizes.

The thesis must be awarded in the calendar year 2012.  Theses in the broad area of international studies will be eligible, although the BISA Research Sub-Committee will be able to pass judgement on questions of eligibility.  ONLY ONE PHD THESIS PER DEPARTMENT MAY BE ENTERED. It is the Department's responsibility to ensure a process is in place to avoid multiple nominations.

The Prize will be judged by the BISA Research subcommittee of the Board of Trustees, subject to the views of the Board as a whole. The Prize will be awarded at the 2013 Annual Conference, and is a cheque to the value of £250. The Association reserves the right not to make an award in any particular year.

2012 Prize has been awarded to  Erzsebet Strausz, ‘Being in Discourse:  an Experience Book of Sovereignty’.

Judges comments:

All three of us found this a challenging but highly original piece of work. I certainly have not read a thesis like it before. The author is to be commended for pursuing a style and method that is highly unusual, even confrontational, in its divergence from some of the accepted practices of academic writing. Despite the cottage industry of Foucault studies in IR, this brings a fresh reading of the French philosopher's work and its relevance to IR in general and understandings of sovereignty in particular.

Comments from the two other judges:

There is no jargon or impenetrable theorizing (despite the theoretical complexity of the topic), just incredibly lucid prose that gets to the heart of some extremely difficult philosophical problems.  The originality and significance of this piece are of the highest order.  This work has the potential to be extremely influential as a piece of scholarship because it not only discusses but also demonstrates the process of subjectivity formation.

This is not only one of the most refreshing pieces of postgraduate research I have [ever] read, but is a stand out piece on international relations. I believe the strength of writing and the ideas explored in this thesis manage the not-easy feat of presenting complex ideas in an accessible and highly original manner. For me this thesis should win the prize for two main reasons: first, it made me think; and second, Strausz offered a refreshing style and take on sovereignty debates that should be read.