Anthony DeMattee Receives the 2021 Edward S. Corwin Award

The Edward S. Corwin Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor the best doctoral dissertation in the field of public law.   

Anthony DeMattee is a first-generation college graduate, a rescue dog dad, and lifelong Denver Broncos fan. He is currently National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow sponsored by both the NSF Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences and the Law & Science Program. His research primarily focuses on the politics of state-civil society interactions in developing countries, with a regional focus on East Africa and the Caribbean (Kenya and Haiti primarily). His dissertation, book project, and current research studies the political origins, judicial politics, and socioeconomic consequences of civil society laws. He is completing the final year of his postdoc while affiliated with the Department of Political Science at Emory University. 

 Citation from the Award Committee: 

 Anthony DeMattee’s Domesticating Civil Society: How and Why Governments Use Laws to Regulate CSOs is this year’s Edward S. Corwin Award winner — a stand-out among an impressive group of nominated dissertations. DeMattee’s dissertation addresses the timely concern that there is a growing trend of restrictive regulations on civil society organizations aimed at keeping governments in power and weakening democratic opposition. He suggests that contrary to conventional wisdom, laws regulating CSOs are not new and that non-democratic regimes often pass permissive provisions. He then sets out to explain this puzzle. DeMattee theorizes that “governments will use CSO laws and regulatory enforcement actions to maintain political control and to expand legitimacy” both at home and internationally. He suggests that CSO “regulatory regimes”, in all political contexts, contain laws that have both permissive and restrictive provisions. Path dependency, international influence and local politics shape the regulatory regime and its changes, but government enforcement and the resulting “de facto regulatory regime” affect CSOs and society.  

This remarkable dissertation uses five different methods, and data collected from 17 countries, over a time span ranging from 1872 to 2019 to explain “the conditions under which governments enact and enforce permissive and restrictive legal provisions.” Committee members were unanimous in their enthusiasm for this project and their respect for the data collection involved. It is an enormous undertaking, including extensive archival work and interviews, and four different data sets. Using both quantitative and qualitative approaches, DeMattee moves from a global cross-national study to a cross national regional comparison and concludes with an in-depth single-country case study. The analysis is carefully done and presented in this well written work. We are confident this great contribution to the discipline will be published and available to law and courts scholars quickly. 


APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Dr. Lori J. Hausegger (Chair), Boise State University; Dr. Paul M. Collins, Jr., University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and Dr. Matthew P. Hitt, Colorado State University.