14 January 2011: PhD graduate wins prestigious Middle East Studies Association (MESA) award

Congratulations to Dr. Akin Unver, a former PhD student from the Department of Government, who has won the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) 2010 Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award in social sciences for his dissertation on comparative politics of the 1990’s Kurdish Question: ‘Defining Turkey’s Kurdish Question: Discourse in the US Congress, EU Parliament and the Turkish Grand National Assembly, 1990-99‘. Dr. Unver graduated from the Department in 2010 and is now the 'Ertegun Lecturer of Turkish and Middle Eastern Studies' at the Department of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University.

The MESA Dissertation Awards were established in 1982 to recognize exceptional achievement in research and writing for/of dissertations in Middle East studies. In 1984 the award was named for Malcolm H. Kerr to honour his significant contributions to Middle East studies. Awards are given in two categories: Social Sciences and Humanities and only one dissertation is picked every year.

The Committee’s statement read:

Dr. Unver’s dissertation approached the complex and thorny Kurdish Question with scholarly objectivity and thoroughness. Focusing on legislative discursive constructions of this Question as they appear in debates in the United States Congress, the European Parliament and the Turkish Grand Assembly, he identified the role played by legislators’ ideological orientations and political interests in defining an intra-state problem. Dr. Unver makes a strong case for the higher explanatory value of discourse analysis in determining whether and how the manner in which a political issue is talked about affects policy decisions. The committee comments Dr. Unver for the sophistication of his theoretical discussion and the rigor of his methodology.

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