A jury consisting of Indra de Soysa (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), Emilie Hafner-Burton (University of California, San Diego), and Vally Koubi (ETH, Zurich) has awarded the 2015 Journal of Peace Research 'Nils Petter Gleditsch Article of the Year Award' to Alexander de Juan (German Institute of Global and Area Studies & University of Konstanz) and André Bank (German Institute of Global and Area Studies). The jury was faced with the very difficult task of selecting one winner from among several exceptionally good articles. According to the jury, the prize-winning article, 'The Ba´athist Blackout? A Selective Goods Provision and Political Violence in the Syrian Civil War', Journal of Peace Research 52(1): 91–104, maps the early violence in the Syrian civil war to show that opposition to the government was likely to follow a political economy logic. Areas that received selective goods, in this case electricity, were likely to be spared violence, net of other factors generally thought to be more important, such as cultural and religious affinities for explaining the Syrian conflict. Using crowd-sourcing data for measuring the geo-spatial distribution of fatalities and satellite data on night-time light intensity, the article finds support for the view that providing selective goods to geographical areas supportive of the regime has been one of the dominant strategies of regime survival in Syria. The article shows a high degree of methodological sophistication and rigour as well as providing a mixture of quantitative and qualitative evidence in support of an interesting proposition.
The award is USD 1,000.
Honourable mention goes to the runners-up:
T Camber Warren (Department of Defense Analysis, Naval Postgraduate School) 'Explosive connections? Mass media, social media, and the geography of collective violence in African states,' Journal of Peace Research 52(3): 297-311.
Brian J Phillips (Department of International Studies, Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE), Mexico City). 'Enemies with benefits? Violent rivalry and terrorist group longevity,' Journal of Peace Research 52(1): 62-75.