The IMM supports three annual awards, described below with current and previous award winners listed for each prize.


The Charles Taylor Book Award

The Charles Taylor Book Award recognizes the best book in political science that employs or develops interpretive methodologies and methods.

This award is named in recognition of the contributions of Charles Taylor to the advancement of interpretive thinking in the political and social sciences. In his 1971 essay “Interpretation and the Sciences of Man,” Taylor powerfully critiqued the aspiration to model the study of politics on the natural sciences, and he cogently explained how “interpretation is essential to explanation” in the human sciences. This essay, along with Taylor’s “Philosophical Papers” and many other articles, book chapters, and volumes, have long been a source of inspiration for scholars seeking to develop and apply an interpretive approach to the study of politics.

The award will be given to a book exploring any aspect of political life that either engages interpretive methodological issues or that reports the results of empirical research conducted using interpretive research methods. We will consider books of two types. The book can engage these ideas philosophically, in keeping with much of Professor Taylor’s work and the sense of ‘methodology’ as an expression and/or application of philosophical concerns, such as with ontological and epistemological issues. The book can also present empirical research, as long as it explicitly considers the methodological issues and concerns that arose in the conduct of the research. The book can be either a single- or multi-authored book or an edited volume.

Eligibility: 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). Books published in a two calendar year period prior to the year of the APSA meeting at which the award is presented are eligible; the book’s copyright date will be treated as the year of publication (that is, books copyrighted in 2012 and 2013 would be eligible for consideration for the award to be presented at the 2014 meeting). The award committee will, however, be under no obligation to make an award in a year in which submissions do not merit such recognition.

Details: For the call for nominations for the current year’s award, please see this year’s announcement.

This year’s award goes to >>

2018: Bernardo Zacka (MIT), for When the State Meets the Street: Public Service and Moral Agency (Harvard University Press, 2017). See citation and photo.

Honorable mentions to:
Shiri Pasternak (Trent University) for Grounded Authority: The Algonquins of Barriere Lake Against the State (University of Minnesota Press, 2017)
Stefanie Fishel (University of Alabama) for The Microbial State: Global Thriving and the Global State (University of Minnesota Press, 2017).
See citations.

Award committee
Nick Cheesman, Australia National University
Kristen Monroe, University of California, Irvine
Sarah Marie Wiebe, University of Hawai’i, Mānoa, Chair

Previous recipients of the Charles Taylor Book Award

2017: Sarah Wiebe, University of Hawaii, for Everyday Exposure: Indigenous Mobilization and Environmental Justice in Canada’s Chemical Valley (Vancouver and Toronto: UBC Press, 2016).  The award citation is here, plus a photo.

2016: Daniel Kato, Queen Mary University of London, Liberalizing Lynching: Building a New Racialized State (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015). Citation is here.

2015: Davina Cooper, University of Kent, for Everyday Utopias: The Conceptual Life of Promising Spaces (Duke University Press, 2014).  The citation is here, plus a photo.

2014: Paul Amar, UC-Santa Barbara, for The Security Archipelago: Human-Security States, Sexuality Politics, and the End of Neoliberalism (Duke University Press, 2013).  Here is the citation.

2013: Sharon Sliwinski, University of Western Ontario, for Human Rights in Camera (University of Chicago Press, 2011). The citation is here.

2012:  No books considered.

2011:  No award presented.

2010:  Michael Loriaux, Northwestern University, for European Union and the Deconstruction of the Rhineland Frontier (Cambridge University Press, 2008). The citation is here.


The Hayward Alker Best Student Paper Award

The Hayward R. Alker award  recognizes the American Political Science Association (APSA) conference paper by a Ph.D. student that best demonstrates the uses of interpretive methodologies and methods for the study of the politics.

This award is named to honor the memory of Hayward R. Alker, John A. McCone Chair in International Security at the School of International Relations, University of Southern California, and former President of the International Studies Association, who passed away on August 24, 2007. From his humanistic critique of mainstream political science, to the role he played in the development and promotion of interdisciplinary, historically grounded, linguistically and hermeneutically-informed approaches to political science, Hayward Alker was a tireless champion of interpretive methodologies. His commitment to nurturing and encouraging graduate students and young scholars makes this award a doubly appropriate way to honor his contributions.

Eligibility: The award will be given annually to a paper studying any aspect of political life that either engages interpretive methodological issues or that reports the results of empirical research using interpretive research methods.

Details: For the call for nominations for the current year’s award, please see this year’s announcement.

This year’s award goes to >>

2018: Martha Balaguera (University of Toronto) for “Intersecting transit(ions): Confinement, migration and gender at the limits of sovereignty.” The paper, which was self-nominated, was presented November 2016 at the annual meeting of the American Studies Association in Denver, Colorado while she was a doctoral candidate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Citation and photo.

Award committee 
Farah Godrej, University of California Riverside, Chair
Aarie Glas, Northern Illinois University
David Forrest, Oberlin College

Previous recipients of the Hayward Alker Best Student Paper Award

2017: Michelle Weitzel, (doctoral candidate at the New School for Social Research), for “An Acoustemology of Conflict in Israel-Palestine: Toward a Theory of Sound-Power,” presented at the 2016 annual meeting of the Western Political Science Association in San Diego. The award citation is here, plus a photo.

2016: Kevin Funk (now Department of Political Science, University of the District of Columbia), for “Capitalists of the World, Unite?”
Tanya Schwarz (Department of Political Science, UC Irvine), for “Inter-Religious Peace-building: Engaging Religious Diversity in Faith Based Organizations.”
Both papers were presented at the 2015 meeting of the American Political Science       Association in San Francisco. Here are the citations and a photo from the ceremony.

2015: David L. Jones, SUNY, Albany, for his paper “Culture in the Court: Explaining Bowers vs. Hardwick through Frame Analysis,” presented at the 2014 Law and Society Conference; self-nominated. The citation is here.

2014: Nicholas Rush Smith, for his paper “Contradictions of Vigilance: Contesting Citizenship in Post-Apartheid South Africa.” The citation is here.

2013: Devorah Manekin, UCLA, for her paper presented at APSA 2011, “Collecting Sensitive Data:  On the Challenges of Studying Violence in Conflict.” The citation is here.

2012: No award given.

2011: Konstantin Kilibarda, York University, Centre for International and Security Studies, for “Clearing Space – An Anatomy of Urban Renewal, Social Cleansing and Everyday Life in a Belgrade Mahala,” presented at the International Studies Association Annual Meeting, February 17-20, 2010 (New Orleans); nominated by Aida Hozic, University of Florida. The citation is here.

2010: Jennifer Dodge, New York University, for her paper “Tensions in Deliberative Practice: A View from Civil Society.” The citation is here.

Honorable Mention: Shauhin Talesh, University of California at Berkeley, for his paper “Bargaining In the Shadow of ‘Shadow Law’: An Ethnography of How Business Organizations Shape the Meaning of Law in Private Organizational Courts.” The citation is here.


The Grain of Sand Award

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 Wis»awa 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 CG).

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 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 Dvora Yanow (


View with a grain of sand
— Wislawa SzymborskaWe call it a grain of sand,
but it calls itself neither grain nor sand.
It does just fine without a name,
whether general, particular,
permanent, passing, incorrect, or apt.
Our glance, our touch mean nothing to it.
It doesn’t feel itself seen and touched.
And that it fell on the windowsill
is only our experience, not its.
The window has a wonderful view of a lake,
but the view doesn’t view itself.

The lake’s floor exits floorlessly,
and its shore exists shorelessly.
Its water feels itself neither wet nor dry
and its waves to themselves are neither singular or plural.
They splash deaf to their own noise
on pebbles neither large nor small.
And all this beneath a sky by nature skyless
in which the sun sets without setting at all
and hides without hiding behind an unminding cloud.

A second passes.
A second second.
A third.
But they’re three seconds only for us.
Time has passed like a courier with urgent news.
But that’s just our simile.
The character is invented, his haste is make-believe,
his news inhuman.
[transl. Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh]
Auguries of Innocence
— William BlakeTo see a world in a grain of sand,And a heaven in a wild flower,Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,And eternity in an hour….We are led to believe a lieWhen we see not thro’ the eye,…But does a human form displayTo those who dwell in realms of day.


This year’s Grain of Sand went to >>

2018: Lee Ann Fujii [posthumously]

Previous recipients of the Grain of Sand Award

2017: Peregrine (Peri) Schwartz-Shea and Dvora Yanow. Here are the citation and a photo.

2016: Mary Hawkesworth, Rutgers University. Here are the citation and a couple of photos.

2015:  Award not given.

2014: Deborah A. Stone, Dartmouth College. The citation is here; her comments on receiving the award are here.

2013: James C. Scott, Yale University. Here is the citation.

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.