Scott Straus, Cornell University Press author of Making and Unmaking Nations: War, Leadership, and Genocide in Modern Africa, has won the 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order.
The University of Louisville presents the $100,000 award annually for outstanding works in ideas improving world order, psychology, education, music composition and, in conjunction with the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, religion. The Ideas Improving World Order award is a major honor in the field of political science, with roughly 50 nominations sent from around the world each year, says award director Charles Ziegler.
This marks the sixth time a Cornell University Press author has won the prize. Cornell has received more Grawemeyers than any other publishing house since the award was established in 1988.
In the book, Straus, who teaches at University of Wisconsin-Madison, explains how ideas and political messages can become tipping points for genocide. His original research examines patterns and circumstances that have resulted in genocide and contrasts those with similar situations where genocide seemed likely to happen but did not. Straus contends that the “founding narratives” of national leaders can determine whether an ethnic minority is tolerated or deemed a threat to the state.
“Straus’s work alerts us to the circumstances under which genocide emerges and he identifies key points when action by national leaders, and efforts by the international community, can halt the slide into mass violence,” said Ziegler.
Straus specializes in the study of genocide, political violence, human rights and African politics. He has written extensively about violence in Rwanda. His Grawemeyer Award-winning book and others have garnered high acclaim. His honors include an appointment to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council by President Barack Obama. Before starting in academia, Straus was a freelance journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Previous Cornell University Press Grawemeyer Award winners:
- 2006: Fiona Terry, Condemned to Repeat? The Paradox of Humanitarian Action
- 2003: Stuart Kaufman, Modern Hatreds: The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War
- 2000: Margaret E. Keck and Kathryn Sikkink, Activists Beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics
- 1993: Donald Harman Akenson, God’s Peoples: Covenant and Land in South Africa, Israel and Ulster
- 1990: Robert Jervis, The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution: Statecraft and the Prospect of Armageddon