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Joni Lovenduski PhD Prize


Awarded with the Standing Group on Gender and Politics 

2023 - Leandra Bias and Cecilia Josefsson

Leandra Bias Cecilia Josefsson

The 2023 Prize has been awarded jointly to Leandra Bias of the University of Bern and Cecilia Josefsson of Uppsala University, for their two outstanding theses.

Leandra Bias is awarded the prize for The (Im)Possibility of Feminist Critique in Authoritarianism: Revisiting Western Knowledge-Transfer in Russia and Serbia completed at the University of Oxford. In her work, Leandra uses historical, archival research and positivist as well as interpretive discourse analysis of the 70 interviews conducted in Russia and Serbia between 2014 and 2017. The thesis makes the case that with the rise of authoritarianism which employs 'Othering back' through an anti-gender discourse, critical feminist scholars need to rethink power relations.

Our jury felt the thesis makes a strong empirical and theoretical contribution. They found Leandra's writing to be extremely reflexive, and thoughtful regarding the positionality of both Russian and Serbian feminists in relation to both state powers and critical theory on knowledge exchange. 

Cecilia Josefsson receives the prize for Adaptive Resistance: Power Struggles over Gender Quotas in Uruguay completed at Uppsala University. The thesis seeks to enhance our understanding of gendered institutional continuity and change in general, and gender equality policy failure. It explores and theorises the role of resistance among privileged political elites, drawing attention to the people involved in the power struggles for gender equality reforms – the change agents and the status quo defenders – and their agency and room for manoeuvre. 

Our jury considered Cecilia's work to be innovative, the theoretical justification of the choice of Uruguay excellent, and the use of time and within–country variation extremely elegant. They found that Cecilia made a very convincing case for the broader applications of this research. 

Read full laudation.

2021 - Ashlee Christoffersen

Ashlee ChristoffersenThe 2021 Prize was awarded to Ashlee Christoffersen for her thesis The politics of intersectional practice: Representation, coalition and solidarity. Our jury particularly appreciated the intellectual innovation of the thesis, its rigour, and its depth of commitment to exploring intersectionality in practice.

The thesis focuses on the under-researched area of equality NGOs and their interaction with the field of policymaking, and explores and compares the development and use of intersectionality, with reference to intersectionality theory and research.

Ashlee Christoffersen is a Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. Her research is concerned with the historic and contemporary operationalisation of the Black feminist theory of intersectionality in equality policy and practice: its influence and possibilities, as well as the discursive and material resistance it faces. She also has a particular interest in intersectional research methodology.

Ashlee's most recent work appears in Policy & Politics and Ethnic and Racial Studies. She speaks more about her research as part of the Intersectionality, unfiltered video series. Ashlee will soon be launching a report for practitioners and policy makers, an animation and videos related to her PhD research.

In light of this year's award having been presented to Ashlee virtually, we have created a short video to capture this special moment.

2019 - Cherry Miller and Orlanda Siow

Cherry Miller Orly Siow

The 2019 Prize has for the first time been awarded jointly, to Cherry Miller, University of Tampere and Orlanda (Orly) Siow, University College London.

Much in the spirit of Joni Lovenduski's pioneering research on the representation of women in politics and public life, our prize committee found these two dissertations exceptional and worthy of the 2019 prize.

Cherry Miller studied at the University of Birmingham, where she read for her BA in Political Science and an MA in Social Research; and the University of Leeds, where she read for an MA in Politics and Parliamentary Studies, involving a placement with a Shadow Minister. Her ESRC 1+3 doctoral research, conducted in POLSIS at the University of Birmingham, explored ethnographically the everyday reproduction of gender in the ‘working worlds’ of the UK House of Commons. 

The Committee considered Cherry Miller’s PhD thesis Beneath the Spectacle: Gendering the Everyday in the British House of Commons to be an innovative piece of work that combines political science and ethnographic research to study how gendered norms are reproduced every day in the House of Commons. By pushing the boundaries of existing knowledge about daily informal gendered performative norms and practices in parliaments, the committee judged that her thesis advances theories of feminist institutionalism and political representation, and significantly contributes to gender and politics scholarly debates.

Orly holds an MA in Gender Studies and a PhD in Political Science, both from University College London. Later in 2019 she will take up a lectureship in the Politics of Gender at Newcastle University. Prior to her academic career, she worked for a number of gender-focused NGOs and a frontbench politician.

Orly Siow’s PhD thesis The effects of candidate race and gender on press coverage of political campaigns: an intersectional analysis argues that minority female candidates occupy a paradoxical position of hypervisibility and invisibility (which can occur simultaneously) in the US-American and British national press. The quality and quantity of media coverage received by candidates for political office is centrally shaped by gender and race, in a complex and sometimes surprising dynamic.

The committee considered Orly’s argument theoretically rich in its applicability to other marginalised groups that sit at the intersection of visibility and invisibility, and groundbreaking in its methods of analysis around intersectionality.

2017 – Hila Amit

Hila Amit

The 2017 Prize was awarded to Hila Amit, SOAS, University of London, for her highly original dissertation A Queer Way Out: Israeli Emigration and Unheroic Resistance to Zionism.

The thesis’ argument is that queer Israeli emigrants, in their decision to depart, undermine Zionist ideology, and change the obvious paths of resistance to Zionism. In stepping out of the territory of Israel, they avoid the Zionist demand to perform as strong, masculine Sabras. Likewise, leftwing resistance to the regime demands similar strength: to take part in violent demonstrations and risk physical injury or imprisonment.

Emigration is subversive in that it symbolises a refusal to answer Zionism in the currency of heroism and active resistance. Amit shows how emigrants’ decision to leave stems from acknowledgement of their own vulnerability; recognition that they can no longer tolerate the hardship of life offered to them in Israel. She explains that the very act of announcing their vulnerability weakens the system, which demands strength of the citizens of Israel, whether obedience to the regime or not. In their passivity and unheroic behaviour, emigrants threaten to undermine the entire Zionist project.

2015 – Ana Miškovska Kajevska

Ana Miskovska Kajevska

The 2015 Prize was awarded to Ana Miškovska Kajevska for her thesis Taking a stand in times of violent societal changes: Belgrade and Zagreb feminists’ positionings on the (post-)Yugoslav wars and each other (1991–2000).

Ana is a freelance researcher, translator and activist. She holds a PhD degree in Social Sciences and a MSc degree (cum laude) in Sociology and Gender Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

Her dissertation explores the positionings (discourses and activities) of the Belgrade and Zagreb feminists vis-à-vis the (post-)Yugoslav wars and one another between 1991 and 2000. Primarily applying a Bourdieuian framework and based on a comprehensive literature review, extensive semi-structured qualitative interviews, and a thorough examination of organisational documents and printed media articles, this socio-historical analysis attends to a number of biases, lacunae and incorrect or insufficiently precise (recurring) information in the scholarship. Ana's thesis thereby enriches the existing knowledge on war-related feminist activism in Belgrade and Zagreb in the 1990s, and raises pressing epistemological questions about this knowledge.

2013 – Rosalind Cavaghan

Rosalind Cavaghan, 2013 Joni Lovenduski winner

The 2013 prize was awarded to Rosalind Cavaghan for her thesis EU Gender Mainstreaming as a Knowledge Process: towards an understanding of perpetuation and change in gender blindness and gender bias. Cavaghan drew on the sociology of knowledge and interpretive policy analysis, to operationalise gender in terms of constant negotiation and co-construction in an analysis of policy implementation. This challenged existing analyses of gender mainstreaming that compared implementation to rhetorical intent and drew on Cavaghan’s prior experiences as a policy consultant.

In an analysis of EU science and innovation policy, the thesis’ ‘gender knowledge’ approach reveals the collective communicative processes through which the relevance of gender is made unintelligible during policy implementation, focusing in particular on the evidence bases which actors use to argue the relevance of gender (e.g. scientific data), or to refute it (e.g. personal anecdotes).

The committee were impressed with the originality of the methodological approach and the forensic empirical analysis it delivered. The thesis provided nuanced, yet very practical, insights into the dynamics of ‘resistance’ that can prevent strong gender equality policies from meaningful implementation and importantly, what measures can effectively overcome them.