Simukai Chigudu Receives the 2021 APSA-IPSA Theodore J. Lowi First Book Award

The APSA-IPSA Theodore J. Lowi First Book Award is presented annually to honor a book in any field of political science that exemplifies qualities of broad ambition, high originality, and intellectual daring, showing promise of having a substantive impact on the overall discipline, regardless of method, specific focus of inquiry or approach to the subject.    

Simukai Chigudu is Associate Professor of African Politics at the University of Oxford and Fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford. His academic monograph, The Political Life of an Epidemic: Cholera, Crisis and Citizenship Zimbabwe, won the prestigious Theodore J. Lowi First Book Award from the International Political Science Association and the American Political Science Association. The book is based on his doctoral research at Oxford University, which won the biennial Audrey Richards Prize from UK African Studies Association for the best Ph.D. thesis examined at a UK university. Simukai has been thinking, teaching, and writing about the cultural politics of colonialism and racism for a long time, and is currently working on a new book about decolonization. Before coming into academia, Simukai trained as a doctor and practiced medicine in the UK’s National Health Service for three years. During this time, he also worked and conducted research in South Africa, Tanzania, and The Gambia.  

Citation from the Award Committee: 

Simukai Chigudu is Associate Professor of African Politics and Fellow of St Antony’s College at the University of Oxford. He is principally interested in the social politics of inequality in Africa, which he examines using disease, public health, violence, and social suffering as organizing frameworks for both historical and contemporary case studies. 

The Award Committee was unanimous in selecting his book The Political Life of an Epidemic: Cholera, Crisis and Citizenship in Zimbabwe as the best book in an extraordinarily strong pool of nominees. While the timeliness of the book’s subject matter cannot be denied, the committee’s judgment was based upon its enduring value in creatively building upon and transcending existing scholarship to depict epidemics such as the cholera outbreak in Harare in 2008 as “perfect storms” at the confluence of historical, social, economic and political forces. In a compelling account and penetrating analysis, Chigudu shows not only how the storm arose but how its differential effects played into the subjective experience of citizenship. It is a remarkable work of political science with broad interdisciplinary reach.   


APSA thanks the International Political Science Association (IPSA) for its support of the award and the committee members for their service: Carolyn Hughes Tuohy (Chair), University of Toronto; Dr. Angelica Maria Bernal, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Jorgen Elklit, University of Aarhus; Rodney E. Hero, Arizona State University; and Dr. Ferdinand Mueller-Rommel, University of Lueneburg.