Past winners

2023 - WINNER  Musab Younis, On the Scale of the World: The Formation of Black Anticolonial Thought (University of California Press, 2022)

 On the Scale of the World: The Formation of Black Anticolonial Thought provides an original account of an anticolonial conception of ‘the international’ during the interwar period that foregrounded and operated on a planetary scale. This anti-imperial conception considered race as constitutive of Eurocentric imperialist notions of the world through elucidating the ways in which racial ‘epidermalization’ was fundamentally bound up with planetary processes. The argument is based on painstaking research into archives of both English- and French-language anticolonial writing in France, the United States, and West Africa. It shows that Black Atlantic anti-colonial and anti-racist struggles at national levels were conceived of and fought in internationalist terms. On the Scale of the World offers a set of major theoretical advances that privilege Black interwar, anticolonial literary and political writings as sources of international theory. These theoretical insights are housed within international studies but speak directly to scholars of History, Geography, Literary Studies, and critical theory. Three contributions deserve mention. First, through challenging the dichotomy of the scales of the global and the corporeal, the book questions the idea that positioned critique is antithetical to the planetary. It therefore enriches and transforms key concepts in international studies and shows how ideas of global order have never simply been the exclusive preserve of Western privileged actors. Second, the book’s reading of interwar Black Atlantic print cultures, especially newspapers, demonstrates the textual mechanisms by which international theory has been produced and travelled ‘from below’. And third, On the Scale of the World implicitly addresses nativist charges against postcolonialism by demonstrating the consciously and intrinsically world-historical cast of Black Atlantic internationalism and nationalism. 

Honourable Mention - Joanne Yao, The Ideal River: How Control of Nature Shaped International Order (Manchester University Press, 2022)

 The Ideal River: How Control of Nature Shaped International Order provides a new perspective on the rise of the modern international order by reinterpreting the formation of international organisations (IOs) as a product of the trialectics of empire, state-formation, and modernity’s tendential domination of nature. Through an empirically rich and theoretically informed account of the 19th century projects to tame the Rhine, Danube, and Congo rivers, the book demonstrates the centrality of the conquest of nature and the concomitant deployment of modern science to the rise and development of the modern/colonial world system. Combining insights of international theory and Historical Sociology to conceptualise the river as a ‘lifeform’, the book illuminates how a domineering geographical imagination animated an international liberal project that foregrounded the control of the nature as a global standard of economic and political legitimacy. The Ideal River therefore also provides a critical framework for thinking beyond modernist modes of domination over, and possessive ownership of nature, towards a just and green international order. 

2022 - Professor Sumi Madhok, Vernacular Rights Cultures: The Politics of Origins, Human Rights and Gendered Struggles for Justice (Cambridge University Press, 2022).

2021 - Rahul Rao, Out of Time: The Queer Politics of Postcoloniality (Oxford University Press, 2020).

2020 - Inez Valdez, Transnational Cosmopolitanism: Kant, Du Bois, and Justice as a Political Craft (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).

2019 - Geoff Mann & Joel Wainwright, Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future
(London/New York: Verso, 2018).

2018 - Sean Molly, Kant's International Relations: The Political Theology of Perpetual Peace (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press 2017); and Catherine Lu, Justice Reconciliation in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017).

2017 - Faiz Sheikh, Islam & International Relations - Exploring Community and the Limits of Universalism (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

2016 - Robert Vitalis, White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015).

2015 - Alexander Anievas (University of Cambridge), Capital, the State and War: Class Conflict and Geopolitics in the Thirty Years' Crisis, 1914-1945 (University of Michigan Press, 2014).

2014 - K. M. Fierke (University of St. Andrews), Political Self-Sacrifice: Agency, Body and Emotion in International Relations (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

2013 - Daniel J. Levine (University of Alabama), Recovering International Relations: the Promise of Sustainable Critique (Oxford University Press, 2012).

2012 - Helen M. Kinsella (University of Madison-Wisconsin), The Image Before the Weapon: a Critical History of the Distinction between Combatant and Civilian (Cornell University Press, 2011).