Kristin Kao and Mara Redlich Revkin Receive the 2020 Franklin L. Burdette/Pi Sigma Alpha Award

The Franklin L. Burdette/Pi Sigma Alpha Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor the best paper presented at the previous year’s Annual Meeting.

Kristen Kao is a Senior Research Fellow with the Program on Governance and Local Development at the University of Gothenburg, where she contributes her expertise in survey methodology, experimental design, and fieldwork management to a team of researchers in conducting large-N, locally representative surveys (5,000+) in the developing world.  She received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.  Since 2006, she has been studying and conducting fieldwork in the Middle East across contexts as diverse as Jordan, Syria, Kuwait, Lebanon, Tunisia, Oman, and Egypt.  She has also trained and led research teams on the ground in the East African countries of Malawi, Zambia, and Kenya.  Her most recently funded projects include a multi-method, comparative study of the integration of Syrian migrants into Jordan, Turkey, and Sweden over 6 years; a study on the drivers of forgiveness versus revenge among diverse groups in Iraq employing 3 large-N surveys and experiments; and surveys in East Africa examining the interaction between social institutions and local governance across issues of authority and legitimacy, vote buying and clientelism, as well as stereotypes and inequalities.  Kristen’s research has received funding from the National Science Foundation, the Fulbright Scholar Program, the Swedish Research Council, the Social Science Research Council, and the American Political Science Association, among others.  She has forthcoming or already published work in Comparative Politics, Mediterranean Politics, Survey Practice, the Oxford Handbook of Politics in Muslim Societies, The Washington Post, and Carnegie’s Middle East blog Sada, among others.  In her free time, Kristen continues to coach and play competitive volleyball.

Mara Revkin is a political scientist and legal scholar conducting empirical research on legal systems during and after conflict with a regional focus on the Middle East and particularly Iraq.  Currently, she is the National Security Law Fellow at the Georgetown University Law Center.  She holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale University, where her dissertation examined civilian agency during rebel governance and its post-conflict consequences in the case of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  She has conducted fieldwork in Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, and Oman using qualitative and quantitative research methods including large-scale household surveys, semi-structured interviews, and event data based on newspapers and social media posts.  She has also led studies for United Nations agencies on the recruitment of children by armed groups in Iraq and Syria, transitional justice in Iraq, and police reform in Iraq.  Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The Journal of PoliticsThe Journal of Conflict ResolutionThe Journal of Global Security StudiesWorld DevelopmentThe Harvard National Security JournalThe Annual Review of Law and Social ScienceForeign Affairs, and The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Law.

Citation from the Award Committee:

The committee is pleased to award the 2020 Franklin R. Burdette/Pi Sigma Alpha Award to Kristen Kao and Mara Revkin for “Retribution and Reconciliation: Attitudes Toward Rebel Collaborators in Iraq.”  This paper addresses critically important, but difficult to study, questions about what determines citizens’ post-conflict attitudes about the punishment of – and leniency toward – people who collaborated with rebel groups during periods of civil violence.  Leveraging a survey experiment that they conducted in Mosul, Iraq after a three-year occupation by the Islamic State, the authors find that respondents prioritize collaborators’ roles, rather than their identity characteristics, when weighing punishment and forgiveness.  Surprisingly, they also find that preferences for retribution are largely invariant to personal exposure to violence.  This work combines pressing policy relevance for peacebuilding in Iraq with strong research design and a novel theoretical frame that has general applications to work on transitional justice.  By emphasizing the preferences of the everyday victims of rebel violence, rather than national politics, they focus our attention on a poorly understood, but crucial, constituency in the process of post-conflict peacebuilding.  They also conceptualize collaboration broadly, eschewing a common tendency to study only the most violent forms of collaboration.  We expect this work to resonate widely with both scholars and practitioners interested in post-conflict justice and peacebuilding.

APSA thanks Pi Sigma Alpha for its support of the award and the committee members for their service: Dr. Daniel Pemstein (chair), North Dakota State University; Dr. Ray Block, Jr., Pennsylvania State University; and Dr. Olga V. Shvetsova, SUNY, Binghamton University.

Kristen Kao

Mara Revkin

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