2014 Article and Dissertation Prizes

The prize committee is happy to announce the names of the prize winners for this year:

Best article

Elyse Semerdjian, "Naked Anxiety: Bathhouses, Nudity, and the Dhimmi Women in 18th-Century Aleppo", IJMES 45 (2013).

Semerdjian's research is not only original, but her analysis is sophisticated and innovative. Through her examination of bath house regulation in 18th-century Aleppo she is able to illustrate the local politics of hardening confessional boundaries discursively as well as in everyday practices. This is a significant contribution to the literature on the millet system, Ottoman state-society discussions and gender and sexuality/ modernity in general and the Ottoman Empire in particular.

Best dissertation

Dissertation: the prize was split between

1. Laura Ruiz de Elvira, "Associations de bienfaisance et ingénieries politiques dans la Syrie de Bachar al-Assad: Émergence d’une société civile autonome et retrait de l’Etat?" (École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales / Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, 2013). Supervision: Hamit Bozarslan and Bernabé López García.

2. Tina Zintl, "Syria’s Authoritarian Upgrading 2000-2010: Bashar al-Asad’s Promotion of Foreign-Educated Returnees as Transnational Agents of Change" (University of St Andrews, 2013). Supervision: Raymond Hinnebusch and Fiona McCallum.

These dissertations complement each other as they study two different aspects of the transformation of the Syrian regime under Bashar al-Asad, namely its "authoritarian upgrading" along neoliberal patterns. Thereby, Ruiz de Elvira and Zintl provide crucial insight into the social, economic and political background of the 2011 uprising. The jury highlighted Ruiz de Elvira's extensive fieldwork research inside Syria - as we sadly realised, this is something that is likely to remain absent from future dissertation prize submissions for a long time. Zintl's dissertation, on its part, stands out in particular due to the sophistication of its conceptual framework, and to its valuable contribution to the broader scholarly discussion on the influence of foreign-educated returnees on the political systems of the Global South.

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