Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies


Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mention: Scott Gehlbach
Title: Representation through Taxation: Revenue, Politics, and Development in Postcommunist States (Cambridge University Press)

Gehlbach has produced a first-rate monograph on the emergence of variant tax systems among the post-communist states of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. He successfully challenges the long-held conventional wisdom in American political science that organized interests will be better represented in the halls of political power than will unorganized interests. Instead, Gehlbach shows how the state’s delivery of public goods had less to so with the organization of wealth, and more to do with its accessibility. His findings are enhanced by a mixed research methodology, combining game theory and statistical analysis with field work and contextual framing. Gehlbach’s monograph is a major contribution to the post-communist political economy.

Honorable Mention: Charles King
Title: The Ghost of Freedom: A History of the Caucasus (Oxford University Press)

Ghost of Freedom is very clearly driven by a social science question: what forces account for the bellicosity of Caucasus social history. It is a history only in the sense that it interrogates a broad sweep of time and is chronologically structured, but if one looks closely, almost every aspect of the book, every chapter, every historical anecdote, is in some way connected to the overarching problematics of colonial rule, politics, and strategic cooptation, struggles for independence and control of resources (political, social, geographic, and material), and the impossibly intricate interrelationships between communities, identities, and interests across the region, making it a work of politics in historic mode. The real accomplishment of this book is the way in which King consistently undermines a number of essentializing modes of explaining the Caucasus.

Winner: Jessica Allina-Pisano