David Peyton and Chantal Berman Receive the 2021 Gabriel A. Almond Award

The Gabriel A. Almond Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor the best doctoral dissertation in the field of comparative politics.

David Peyton is a Donald R. Beall Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School. He will begin work in the Office of Foreign Assets Control at the U.S. Treasury Department in the fall of 2021.

David received his Ph.D. from the department of political science at Northwestern University, where he studied the politics of development, violent conflict, and international interventions in postcolonial states. His dissertation project analyzed strategies of property protection in areas affected by intrastate war, focusing on the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he spent 20 months conducting doctoral fieldwork. His research has been supported by Fulbright-Hays, the Social Science Research Council, Foreign Language and Area Studies Program, National Security Education Program, Conflict and Development Foundation, Buffett Institute for Global Affairs, and a one-year doctoral exchange fellowship at the Centre de Recherches Internationales at Sciences Po in Paris, France.

Prior to his doctoral studies, David worked as a writer and editor at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the U.S. National Defense University and served as a Tom Lantos Congressional Fellow in the office of Congressman Tom Perriello. He has also worked as a research associate at Urwego Bank in Kigali, Rwanda, where he conducted market research on small and medium-sized enterprises. David received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Wheaton College and is an alumnus of the school’s Human Needs and Global Resources program.

Chantal Berman is an Assistant Professor of Government at Georgetown University, where she is affiliated with the Program in Conflict Resolution. At Georgetown, Chantal teaches courses on social movements and revolutions, authoritarianism, and comparative politics. Her research focuses on interactions between protest movements and the state, with a particular focus on how protests may affect governance and distribution, and understanding patterns of state violence towards activists. Chantal earned her PhD in Politics at Princeton University and her BA in International Relations from Brown University. Chantal is a French-American citizen and she resides in Washington, D.C., with her fiancé, dog, and cat.

Citation from Award Committee

This award was created in recognition of Gabriel Almond’s scholarly work, which contributed theoretically and empirically to our understanding of comparative politics. This year, the committee faced the challenge of choosing among a large number of impressive doctoral dissertations in the field of comparative politics. It was a difficult task, as the quality of the work we read was very high.

The two dissertations to be awarded the 2021 Gabriel A. Almond Award are representative of the best work in Political Science. They are guided by interesting and significant questions, produce theoretical contributions building on the existing literature, and test their hypothesis in an innovative, systematic and empirically sophisticated way.

“Protest, Social Policy, and Political Regimes,” by Chantal Berman, asks why many contemporary democratic transitions fall short of popular demands for economic opportunity and social protection. Employing a structured, focused comparison of Tunisia and Morocco, Chantal shows that that “failed” revolutions amplify the threat perceptions of surviving elites and the threshold of mobilization at which they will grant concessions. Social concessions follow as a way to demobilize mass opposition while avoiding political reform. In successful democratizing revolutions, on the other hand, coalition-building often makes elites want to undermine opponents’ attempts at social reforms and produces instead exclusive concessions to smaller, well-organized protest groups.

“Property Security in the Midst of Insecurity: Wealth, Violence, and Institutional Stasis in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” by David Peyton, asks why, if contemporary development theory is right that investment is rare and unproductive when tenure security is uncertain, there are so many people purchasing properties and extracting value from them at times of profound insecurity. Analyzing original data from four Congolese urban centers, David shows that “adaptive practices” (the de facto actions that people take to advance their economic interests in the absence of effective legal protections) compensate for state institutions that provide few constraints on behavior and that leave the options for acquiring and defending property relatively open.

We congratulate Chantal and David on being the deserving recipients of this year’s Gabriel A. Almond Award.

APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Professor David Rueda (Chair), University of Oxford; Dr. Jaimie Bleck, University of Notre Dame; and Dr. David T. Buckley, University of Louisville.