Lee Ann Fujii Award for Innovation in the Interpretive Study of Political Violence

Sponsored by Routledge and the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods (IMM) Conference Group of the American Political Science Association

Deadline for nominations/submissions: April 1, 2019

Scope/Eligibility (see below for detail): books, journal articles, and chapter-length publications

The Interpretive Methodologies and Methods (IMM) Conference Group of the American Political Science Association announces the creation of “Routledge’s Lee Ann Fujii Award for Innovation in the Interpretive Study of Political Violence.” The award, funded by Routledge/Taylor & Francis, is to be given to books, journal articles or book chapters, in recognition of the late Professor Fujii’s contributions to that area of inquiry.

Dr. Fujii, who died unexpectedly in March 2018, was Associate Professor of political science at the University of Toronto. Her main field of study was comparative politics, as an Africanist specializing in genocide studies and (post-)conflict settings. Recently, she had expanded her research agenda to include the historical conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and the U.S. south.  In the course of her research, she developed a methodological expertise in interviewing, especially as articulated in her recently published Interviewing in Social Science Research: A Relational Approach (Routledge/T&F 2018), the fifth volume in the Routledge Series in Interpretive Methods.

The award honors her creative contributions to the study of political violence, including methods for doing such research. In her 2009 book Killing Neighbors: Webs of Violence in Rwanda (Cornell University Press), as well as in her posthumously forthcoming book Show Time: The Logic and Power of Violent Display and other writings, Dr. Fujii developed fresh ways to investigate, conceptualize, and explain political violence in places as diverse as Rwanda, Bosnia, and the United States.

Among her methodological contributions, three innovations stand out:

  • her relational approach to the production of lying and truth-telling in interviews (in “Shades of truth and lies: Interpreting testimonies of war and violence,” Journal of Peace Research 47 (2): 231–241, 2010, and in her 2018 Routledge book on relational interviewing);
  • the contributions of what she called “meta-data” in assessing the veracity of interview narratives (in “Five stories of accidental ethnography: Turning unplanned moments in the field into data,” Qualitative Research 15 (4): 525–539, 2015); and
  • her dramaturgical approach to analyzing political violence and its display (in “The puzzle of extra-lethal violence,” Perspectives on Politics 11 (2): 410-426, 2013, and the forthcoming book).

This award recognizes published works that most innovatively study political violence from an interpretive perspective, memorializing Dr. Fujii’s approach to political research and her overall contributions to interpretive research methods.

Two elements in the award title deserve explication. First, the term “interpretive” has developed under the influence of several key works in the so-called interpretive turn in the social sciences. What grounds the diverse methods of empirical research included under this umbrella is the intention to place human meaning-making at the center of the social science research endeavor. Being attuned to meaning-making involves a recognition of, and sensitivity to, the ambiguities of human experience, an idea that lies at the heart of Lee Ann Fujii’s work. Researchers presuppose that meanings are negotiated and inter-subjectively constructed, and they often deliberately investigate efforts to promulgate or resist particular meanings, at the same time as they explore the variation of meanings across context. By studying the symbols, rituals, stories, and other artifacts through which actors make sense of their worlds, researchers seek to reveal the intricate, evolving connections between taken-for-granted understandings and human activities and practices.

Second, in line with Dr. Fujii’s own efforts both to expose more hidden and systemic types of harm (racial and gender discrimination, in particular) and to understand what drives people to kill, the nominated work may take any type of political violence, broadly construed, as its concern. The violence might be direct and physical; it might be entrenched and structural, inflicting various forms of harm based on race, gender, class, economic, and other inequalities; it might be cultural and symbolic, serving to justify, normalize or naturalize harm or injustice. This award understands political violence to include not only violence between states (the traditional understanding of war and its aftermath) and between factions within a state, such as in civil wars, but also the ongoing “wars” against terrorism, possibly also against drug abuse, and also, significantly, domestic and sexual violence. Research on inter-state and civil wars has shown how such violence can be, and often is, intertwined with sexual violence. The use of rape to terrorize a population, for example, was particularly strong in the Yugoslavian wars, one of Professor Fujii’s areas of research. And then there is the sort of political violence committed by the guards at Abu Ghraib, a topic other political scientists have taken up.

Bringing both of these elements together, and in keeping with IMM’s focus and that of the Routledge Series on Interpretive Methods, the award will recognize works that not only report on findings, but which engage the methodological entailments and/or methods challenges of studies of political violence, broadly construed. Consideration will be given to interviewing, as in Dr. Fujii’s research, but also to other methods.

The award committee will consider not only books and journal articles, but also chapter-length publications. In addition to considering chapters from edited books, eligibility will also extend to chapters from monographs that do not focus on political violence as a whole, but which include an outstanding and innovative methodological chapter (including, e.g., methodological appendices) that could lend itself to the study of violence.

The award will be presented every other year, starting in 2019, at the annual American Political Science Association (APSA) conference during the business meeting or reception of the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods Conference Group. Nominations of works for the award—they may be self-nominated—should include a statement explaining how the work exemplifies the domain of the award.  To be eligible, the nominated work should have been published during the two calendar years prior to the year of the APSA meeting at which the award would be presented (e.g., 2017-2018 for a 2019 award). In the case of a journal article, eligibility is determined by the date of initial publication (the date of the issue in which the article appears or its online publication date). In the case of a book chapter or a book, eligibility is based on the book’s copyright date. The award committee is not obligated to give an award in any given round.

Award Committee for the 2019 award

Please send one copy of the book by post or the chapter/article by post or email, plus the nominating statement, to each member of the committee:

Kristen Monroe, Chair
Chancellor’s Distinguished Professor of Political Science
University of California, Irvine
4103 Social Sciences Plaza A
Irvine, CA 92697

Mary Hawkesworth
Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies
Rutgers University
Postal address:
321 South 6th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Timothy Longman
Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations
Director, CURA: Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs
Pardee School of Global Studies
Boston University
232 Bay State Road
Boston, MA 02215


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