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BISA African Affairs Postgraduate Paper Prize

June 9, 2016

The British International Studies Association (BISA) African Affairs Postgraduate Paper Prize is awarded for the best paper on a topic related to Africa, presented at either the BISA Postgraduate Network Conference or the BISA Annual Conference, by a postgraduate student (i.e. prior to graduation with a PhD). The winning paper will be chosen by the panel according to criteria of originality, significance and rigour, and the panel are happy to consider papers which are empirical and/or theoretical. The panel is nominated by the convenors of the BISA Africa and International Studies working group and the editors of African Affairs. Papers should convey a strong sense of contemporary African political realities, as well as make a contribution to the study of international affairs in Africa or from an African perspective. The award is £150 and winning authors will be encouraged to submit their paper to African Affairs.

The winner of the inaugural BISA African Affairs Postgraduate Paper Prize in 2015 was Kathy Dodworth (Edinburgh), for her paper entitled ‘The politics of voluntarism in Tanzania’. The panel (consisting of Suda Perera, Rita Abrahamsen and Will Brown) concluded that Dodworth’s paper is notable for engaging with a contemporary debate in IR about public authority and legitimation, while simultaneously illustrating this through rich and detailed fieldwork. It is an intriguing and highly interesting paper, that engages both with recent theoretical debates about public authority and with extensive empirical fieldwork. Its main aim is to show how NGOs in Tanzania use various practices and discourses of voluntarism to construct public authority, thus illustrating the continuity between state and civil society, the public and the private. Overall, the paper succeeds in bringing out the ambiguities and complexities in these practices of legitimation, and the result is an interesting portrayal of the competition between NGOs and some of the effects on the local volunteers and communities.

International Relations Virtual Issue

To celebrate the launch of the prize, the journal has collected some of the most insightful and influential articles that it has published on Africa's International Relations and made them free to download as part of the Africa's International Relations Virtual Issue

Prize Winners

2015: Kathy Dodworth (Edinburgh) for her paper entitled 'The politics of voluntarism in Tanzania'