The Heinz I. Eulau Award is presented annually by the American Political Science Association (APSA) to honor the best article published in the APSA journal American Political Science Review.
Pavithra Suryanarayan is an Assistant Professor in the Government Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research is motivated by the desire to understand how different forms of group-based inequality — class or status, for instance — shape political behavior and institutions in multi-ethnic countries like India and the United States. She is currently working on a book on “Hollowing out the state.”
Steven White is an assistant professor of political science at Syracuse University. His research examines race and American political development. He is the author of World War II and American Racial Politics: Public Opinion, the Presidency, and Civil Rights Advocacy (Cambridge University Press, 2019). He is currently working on a book manuscript examining the political influence of police unions in American cities in historical perspective.
Citation from the Award Committee:
“Slavery, Reconstruction, and Bureaucratic Capacity in the American South” is a very original paper challenging a mainstream position in political economy that argues that taxation will increase following a growth in the franchise. To the contrary, focusing on the American South, Pavithra Suryanarayan and Steven White show that bureaucratic fiscal capacity actually declined in the aftermath of voting rights expansion during Reconstruction. The authors argue persuasively that in ranked societies, ethnic groups may seek to undermine the state in order to maintain their social advantages. In the American South, white people formed cross-coalitions that weakened institutions so as to repress the rights of African-Americans. In states where slavery was more prevalent, these white cross-coalitions were linked with weaker institutional development.
This paper is especially notable for its judicious combination of historical research and quantitative analysis that combine to build a distinct theoretical argument. The authors creatively use county level census data and taxation from 11 Confederate states in the mid to late 19th century to operationalize bureaucratic quality and fiscal capacity. In doing so, the paper is not only empirically deep, but also conceptually innovative. Finally, this paper demonstrates very clearly the value of case study research that, while rooted in the history of one country, has wide implications for other cases where the interaction of ethnicity, class, and institutions can have powerful effects on political development.
APSA thanks Cambridge University Press for its support of the award and the committee members for their service: Dr. Erik Martinez Kuhonta (chair) of McGill University, Dr. Carles Boix of Princeton University, and Anastasia Shesterinina of The University of Sheffield.