Award-winning scholarship from RGCS


Published: 2Sep2019

Five recent books by RGCS faculty members have been recognized with prestigious prizes awarded by scholarly associations from around the world.


Arash Abizadeh's Hobbes and the Two Faces of Ethics (Cambridge University Press) was the English-language winner of the 2019 Book Prize from the Canadian Philosophical Association. The award citation reads "Reading Hobbes in light of both the history of ethics and the conceptual apparatus developed in recent work on normativity, this book challenges received interpretations of Hobbes and his historical significance. Arash Abizadeh uncovers the fundamental distinction underwriting Hobbes's ethics: between prudential reasons of the good, articulated via natural laws prescribing the means of self-preservation, and reasons of the right or justice, comprising contractual obligations for which we are accountable to others. He shows how Hobbes's distinction marks a watershed in the transition from the ancient Greek to the modern conception of ethics, and demonstrates the relevance of Hobbes's thought to current debates about normativity, reasons, and responsibility. His book will interest Hobbes scholars, historians of ethics, moral philosophers, and political theorists."


Paul Saurette and Kelly Gordon's The Changing Voice of the Anti-Abortion Movement: The Rise of "Pro-Woman" Rhetoric in Canada and the United States (University of Toronto Press) was awarded the 2019 Seymour Matin Lipset Best Book Award from the Canadian Politics Organized Section of the American Political Science Association. The prize "is given to honor a significant contemporary contribution to the scholarship on Canadian politics, or Canada in a comparative perspective, or a comparative analysis of Canada with other countries, particularly the United States."


Catherine Lu's Justice and Reconciliation in World Politics (Cambridge) has been awarded the 2018 Robert L. Jervis and Paul W. Schroeder Best Book Award from the International History and Politics Organized Section of the American Political Science Association; the 2018 Yale H. Ferguson Award from the International Studies Association-Northeast; and the 2019 IETHICS Book award from the International Ethics Section of the International Studies Association. It was a co-winner of the 2018 Sussex International Theory Prize awarded by the Centre for Advanced International Theory, University of Sussex. And it was shortlisted for the 2018 C.B. Macpherson Prize for the best book in political theory from the Canadian Political Science Association.


The Ferguson Award citation reads "Justice and Reconciliation is a remarkable scholarly achievement. The book takes seriously the challenge of working through a complex field of contested terms and concepts (‘justice,’ ‘reconciliation,’ etc.), but without subjecting them to depoliticizing, once-and-for-all characterizations, or removing them from their generative historical contexts. Instead, Dr. Lu develops a truly plural voice, one which comprehensively surveys the existing literature, even as it pushes past that literature’s accepted boundaries. The horror of colonial and neo-colonial violence, and their ongoing legacies, sit at the very center of her narrative; yet Lu neither moralizes ex cathedra, nor lapses into learned apologetics. Rather, Justice and Reconciliation moves beyond existing invocations of trauma and international humanitarian regimes as these are presented in both International Relations and political theory, posing significant challenges to each. This is a learned, challenging work that merits the widest possible reading, wholly in the spirit of the Ferguson award."


William Clare Roberts' Marx's Inferno: The Political Theory of Capital (Princeton University Press) was awarded the 2017 Deutscher Memorial Prize for the book "which exemplifies the best and most innovative new writing in or about the Marxist tradition," and shortlisted for the 2018 C.B. Macpherson Prize for the best book in political theory from the Canadian Political Science Association. The Deutscher Prize citation said that "Roberts' book is unique in its combination of a close re-reading of Marx’s Capital through the lens of contextual political theory. He brings to the study of Capital all the verve, passion and erudition of Marx’s own invocation of classical literature to unmask the hellish realities of contemporary capitalism."


His Deutscher Memorial Prize Lecture has been published in Historical Materialism: “Marx’s Social Republic: Political not Metaphysical“


Yves Winter's Machiavelli and the Orders of Violence (Cambridge University Press) has been awarded the 2019 Best First Book Prize from the Foundations of Political Theory Organized Section of the American Political Science Association. Niccolò Machiavelli is the most prominent and notorious theorist of violence in the history of European political thought - prominent, because he is the first to candidly discuss the role of violence in politics; and notorious, because he treats violence as virtue rather than as vice. In this original interpretation, Yves Winter reconstructs Machiavelli's theory of violence and shows how it challenges moral and metaphysical ideas. Winter attributes two central theses to Machiavelli: first, violence is not a generic technology of government but a strategy that tends to correlate with inequality and class conflict; and second, violence is best understood not in terms of conventional notions of law enforcement, coercion, or the proverbial 'last resort', but as performance. Most political violence is effective not because it physically compels another agent who is thus coerced; rather, it produces political effects by appealing to an audience. As such, this book shows how in Machiavelli's world, violence is designed to be perceived, experienced, remembered, and narrated.


Abizadeh, Gordon, Lu, Roberts, and Winter are all members of the faculty of the Research Group on Constitutional Studies, a unit of the Yan P. Lin Centre for the Study of Freedom and Global Orders in the Ancient and Modern Worlds, and of the Department of Political Science at McGill. Abizadeh, Lu, and Winter are also members of the Lin Centre's Research Group on Global Justice; Lu is the coordinator of that group.

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