The 118th APSA annual meeting took place in Montreal, Canada, on 15-18 September 2022. During the conference, two Max Weber Fellows at the EUI were awarded a prestigious recognition for their thesis projects.
"After struggling to finish writing my dissertation in the midst of social upheaval in Chile in 2019–2020 and amid a worldwide pandemic, it is extremely gratifying that this APSA section finds novelty and methodological quality in my research," shares Victoria Finn, a Max Weber Fellow at the Robert Schuman Centre. Finn received the best dissertation award from the Migration and Citizenship Section for her PhD thesis, Migrant Rights, Voting, and Resocialization: Suffrage in Chile and Ecuador, 1925–2020. This section, she explains, comprises about 350 academics, many of whom she not only cites in her own work, but also deeply admires. "It was an honour to be recognised as part of this stellar group of political scientists and migration and citizenship scholars."
As her work focuses on migrant rights, voting, and resocialisation in Chile and Ecuador, Finn finds her nomination an acknowledgment of the critical role of South-South migrants in contemporary societies and politics. "I hope this award will help me revitalise a research agenda on migration and citizenship within South-South contexts."
Finn's professional mission is to connect migration scholars across Europe and North and South America, with the aim of expanding knowledge on how migration laws, governance, and implementation affect migrants' lives and political behaviour. The EUI community, she says, is playing an instrumental role in allowing her to advance towards this goal.
Furthermore, she points out how the EUI's Max Weber Programme has supported her endeavours both financially and intellectually, particularly in regards to a book project she presented at the APSA convention, which was prompted by the Max Weber Programme’s 'Dissertation to Book course' she took in 2021. In addition, she greatly appreciates the distinct interdisciplinarity of the Robert Schuman Centre, and the consistent inspiration and support provided by her Mentor, Professor Maarten Vink, and the Global Citizenship Observatory team. "I greatly value the EUI’s stimulating and unique academic community, which I will continue to contribute to, and learn from, as a second-year Max Weber Fellow through 2023."
Natalia Garbiras-Díaz, Max Weber Fellow at the Department of Political and Social Sciences, also received a best dissertation prize. Her PhD thesis, Paving the way for the rise of outsiders: Candidate and voter behavior in an era of political disillusionment, was awarded by the APSA Experimental Research Section. Her research project at the EUI, as well as an article published in the American Economic Review, are also based on the thesis.
"I was extremely happy upon learning about the news, especially because I have been working on this project for so long," she says. Indeed, a pilot of the project was launched in 2018, in the context of the Colombian presidential elections. Garbiras-Díaz and her colleague Mateo Montenegro have been working on it ever since. The most rewarding aspect of this recognition, she explains, is that it acknowledges both her interest in experimental design and implementation, and her personal connection to her homeland, Colombia.
As a researcher, Garbiras-Díaz is committed to the idea that her work should have policy relevance. The implications of her award-winning paper, for example, speak about ways in which citizens can be engaged in monitoring their elections and ensuring electoral integrity. She hopes the positive attention this project has received can promote a more active role for citizens in ensuring and safeguarding elections and democracy.
In considering the impact that being a Fellow at the EUI had on her career, Garbiras-Díaz mentions two key aspects of her experience: the programme's unique structure and the EUI academic community. First, being a Max Weber Fellow meant she had the time, space and resources to delve into her research in a way that would not have been possible in many other programmes. Secondly, she was greatly supported and inspired by colleagues and faculty from the Department of Political and Social Sciences, particularly her Mentor, Professor Miriam Golden. "The community here has been extremely helpful both academically but also on a personal level, and it was a crucial element that made receiving this important recognition possible."