The Grain of Sand Award honors a political scientist whose contributions to interpretive studies of the political, and, indeed, to the discipline itself, its ideas, and its persons, have been longstanding and merit special recognition.
Drawing combined inspiration from the opening lines of William Blake’s “Auguries of Innocence” and Wislawa Szymborska’s “View with a Grain of Sand” (excerpted below), the Grain of Sand Award honors a scholar whose contributions demonstrate creative and sustained engagement with questions of enduring political importance from an interpretive perspective. Echoing Szymborska’s “We call it a grain of sand,” the award underscores the centrality of meaning making in both the constitution and study of the political; drawing on Blake’s “To see a world in a grain of sand,” the award honors the capacity of interpretive scholarship to embody and inspire imaginative theorizing, the intentional cultivation of new lines of sight through an expansion of literary and experiential resources, and the nourishing of a playfulness of mind so necessary to the vitality of social science.
The award will be announced and presented at the annual APSA conference during the business meeting or reception of the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods Conference-related Group (IMM).
With the exception of the first two years, each year’s award committee will be determined at that meeting or shortly thereafter and will work together with the IMM CG’s outgoing program chair(s). The award committee will, however, be under no obligation to make an award every year.
Nominations should include a copy of the nominee’s curriculum vitae and a minimum of two supporting letters summarizing the nominee’s contributions and explain the merit for this award. Please e-mail nomination materials (individually or as a unit) to the outgoing Program Committee chair (see the People page) no later than March 1 of each year.
Members of the award committee are the IMM Executive Committee, serving as a committee of the whole.
For information on contributing to the funding of this award, please contact the IMM Executive Committee Chair, Frederic C. Schaffer.
The 2022 Grain of Sand Award has been awarded to Partha Chatterjee, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies, Columbia University and Honorary Professor of Political Science, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, for his decades of interpretive, interdisciplinary research, teaching and mentorship on nationalism, postcolonial theorizing and institution-building in South Asian political and social studies.
|Auguries of Innocence [excerpt]
by William Blake
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
|View with a Grain of Sand
by Wislawa Szymborska
We call it a grain of sand,
The window has a wonderful view of a lake,
They splash deaf to their own noise
And all this beneath a sky by nature skyless
A second passes.
Time has passed like a courier with urgent news.
[transl. Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh]
Previous recipients of the Grain of Sand Award:
2022. Partha Chatterjee.
2021. Mary Fainsod Katzenstein. The citation is here.
2020: Hanna Fenichel Pitkin. The citation is here.
2019: No award given.
2018: Lee Ann Fujii (posthumously). The citation is here.
2015: No award given.
2013: James C. Scott, Yale University. The citation is here.
2012: No award given.
2011: Anne Norton, University of Pennsylvania. The citation is here.
2010: Bud Duvall, University of Minnesota. The citation is here.
2009: Lloyd I. Rudolph and Susanne Hoeber Rudolph, University of Chicago. The citation and their replies, published in PS: Political Science and Politics, are here.