The Ralph J. Bunche Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor the best scholarly work in political science that explores the phenomenon of ethnic and cultural pluralism. This year we have co-winners for the Ralph J. Bunche Award: Nadia E. Brown and Danielle Lemi for their work Sister Style; and Mark Fathi Massoud for his work Shari’a, Inshallah: Finding God in Somali Legal Politics.
Nadia E. Brown (Ph.D., Rutgers University), co-author of Sister Style, is a Professor of Government, chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program and affiliate in the African American Studies program at Georgetown University. She specializes in Black women’s politics and holds a graduate certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies. Dr. Brown’s research interests lie broadly in identity politics, legislative studies, and Black women’s studies. While trained as a political scientist, her scholarship on intersectionality seeks to push beyond disciplinary constraints to think more holistically about the politics of identity.
She is the author or editor of several award winning books – including Sisters in the Statehouse: Black Women and Legislative Decision Making (Oxford University Press); Sister Style: The Politics of Appearance for Black Women Political Elites (with Danielle Lemi); Distinct Identities: Minority Women in U.S. Politics (with Sarah Allen Gershon, Routledge Press); The Politics of Protest: Readings on the Black Lives Matter Movement (with Ray Block, Jr. and Christopher Stout, Routledge Press); Approaching Democracy: American Government in Times of Challenge (with Larry Berman, Bruce Allen Murphy and Sarah Allen Gershon, Routledge Press). Professor Brown is the lead editor of Politics, Groups and Identities. Professor Brown is part of the #MeTooPoliSci Collective where she spearheads efforts to stop sexual harassment in the discipline. Along with co-PIs Rebecca Gill (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) Stella Rouse (University of Maryland, College Park), Elizabeth Sharrow (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) she is the recipient of a million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation for their project titled “#MeTooPoliSci Leveraging A Professional Association to Address Sexual Harassment in Political Science.” Lastly, Professor Brown is an editor with The Monkey Cage, a political science blog in The Washington Post.
Danielle Casarez Lemi, co-author of Sister Style, is a Tower Center Fellow at the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. Lemi is a scholar of representation in American politics, with a focus on identity, race, and gender. Lemi uses experimental and elite interview methods to apply theoretical frameworks of identity and group behavior to questions of voter behavior and legislative politics. Her work has been published in Politics, Groups, and Identities, Du Bois Review, Journal of Race, Ethnicity and Politics, PS: Political Science and Politics, British Journal of Political Science, and Perspectives on Politics. With Dr. Nadia E. Brown, she is the co-author of Sister Style: The Politics of Appearance for Black Women Political Elites (Oxford University Press). Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the APSA Latino Scholarship Fund, and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
She received her Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of California, Riverside in 2017, and she grew up in the California East Bay Area. She was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and a first-generation college student.
Citation from the Award Committee:
In Sister Style, Brown and Casarez Lemi center the experiences of Black women. This alone fills a huge gap in the current literature on women in politics: Black women are severely understudied in the discipline. What is more, Sister Style examines the Black female experience in politics, the politicization of Black women’s bodies center stage: It is not a comparative book, where Black women fill a specific comparative category. Instead, the book centers solely on their specific experience, and their reception by Black voters — a long overdue endeavor in the field of American politics. Black women currently represent the strongest and most reliable voter demographic of the Democratic Party, putting them at the center of the partisan battle in American politics. Yet, they are simultaneously severely underrepresented in the study of American politics – in the profession, as well as in the literature. The awards committee finds Sister Style to be a crucial and long overdue addition to the literature on American politics and American pluralism, and we feel strongly about highlighting the key contribution of this important book.
APSA thanks the committee members for their service: Dr. Annika M. Hinze (chair) of Fordham University, Dr. Natasha Altema McNeely of the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, and Thomas K. Ogorzalek of Co-Lab Research.