Five people jumping for joy

Three books from the BISA book series awarded prizes by the ISA

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We’re delighted to announce that three books from our book series – Cambridge Studies in International Relations - have won International Studies Association (ISA) prizes.

Cambridge Studies in International Relations is a joint initiative we have undertaken with Cambridge University Press (CUP). The series comprises over 150 books and publishes the best new scholarship in International Studies. We seek to bring the latest theoretical work in International Relations to bear on the most important problems and issues in global politics.

The three prize winning books are:

Chadwick Alger Best Book Award

The Closure of the International System: How Institutions Create Political Equalities and Hierarchies

Lora Anne Viola, Freie Universität Berlin, June 2020

As global governance appears to become more inclusive and democratic, many scholars argue that international institutions act as motors of expansion and democratization. The Closure of the International System challenges this view, arguing that the history of the international system is a series of institutional closures, in which institutions such as diplomacy, international law, and international organizations make rules to legitimate the inclusion of some actors and the exclusion of others. While international institutions facilitate collective action and common goods, Viola's closure thesis demonstrates how these gains are achieved by limiting access to rights and resources, creating a stratified system of political equals and unequals. The coexistence of equality and hierarchy is a constitutive feature of the international system and its institutions. This tension is relevant today as multilateral institutions are challenged by disaffected citizens, non-Western powers, and established great powers discontent with the distribution of political rights and authority.

Religion and International Relations Best Book Award

Wrestling with God: Ethical Precarity in Christianity and International Relations

Cecelia Lynch, University of California, Irvine, March 2020

Contrary to charges of religious “dogma,” Christian actors in international politics often wrestle with the lack of a clear path in determining what to do and how to act, especially in situations of violence and when encountering otherness. Lynch argues that it is crucial to recognise the ethical precarity of decision-making and acting. This book contextualizes and examines ethical struggles and justifications that key figures and movements gave during the early modern period of missionary activity in the Americas; in the interwar debates about how to act vis-à-vis fascism, economic oppression and colonialism in a “secular” world; in liberation theology's debates about the use of violence against oppression and bloodshed; and in contemporary Christian humanitarian negotiations of religious pluralism and challenges to the assumptions of western Christianity. Lynch explores how the wrestling with God that took place in each of these periods reveals ethical tensions that continue to impact both Christianity and international relations.

Co-Winner - Theory Section Book Prize

Restraint in International Politics

Brent J Steele, University of Utah, October 2019

The first comprehensive examination of restraint in international politics, considered across a range of psychological, social, political, and institutional contexts as a political process, device, and strategy. Surveying how restraint has been understood in international relations and political theory, with focus given to Aristotle and Machiavelli, Steele utilises Carl Jung's theories of complexes and the libido to broaden the conceptual definition of restraint as a phenomenon that is not only individual and inward-looking, but also relational and societal. Exploring its development, uses, expressions and challenges through history and in contemporary times, this book analyses the politics of restraint in processes of security, political economy, foreign policy and global public health. Situating restraint alongside similar concepts such as moderation, containment, and constraint, Steele asks against what, and from what, are we restraining ourselves, who authorizes restraint, and what are the risks and rewards (both ethical and practical). Steele concludes with a balanced political and normative argument for restraint going forward.

ISA offers several awards given to recognise outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of international studies. They recognise outstanding papers, books, achievement, and service awards.

BISA Director Juliet Dryden said:

“It’s fantastic to see books from the BISA book series recognised across the globe. Congratulations to all three authors and to Cambridge University Press. I’m looking forward to reading the next two releases in the series, to be published in May and June this year. We also hope to bring you more information on the series editors very soon.”

If you’re a BISA member you’re entitled to a 40% discount on any title in our book series, as well as 25% off any other CUP titles. You can access your discount by entering the code supplied in your membership welcome or renewal email.