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 2017 Journal of Peace Research ‘Nils Petter Gleditsch Article of the Year Award’ to Kentaro Hirose (Waseda University), Kosuke Imai (Princeton University) and Jason Lyall (Yale University). The jury was faced with the very difficult task of selecting one winner among several exceptionally good articles. In its assessment of all research articles published in JPR’s 54th volume, the jury paid attention to theoretical rigour, methodological sophistication and substantive relevance. According to the jury, the prize-winning article, ‘Can civilian attitudes predict insurgent violence? Ideology and insurgent tactical choice in civil war’, Journal of Peace Research 54(1): 47–63, offers a novel insight into the longstanding debate on whether civilian attitudes are a useful predictor of violence in civil wars. In particular, the authors examine the role of the winning civilian ‘hearts and minds’ strategy in counterinsurgency wars. The authors argue that insurgents use civilian pro-counterinsurgent attitudes as cues to select their targets and tactics. Using an original survey experiment in 204 Afghan villages, the authors identify a positive link between support for international forces and future Taliban attacks. Furthermore, they extend the analysis to 14,606 non-surveyed villages and show that civilian procounterinsurgent attitudes improve out-of-sample predictive performance by 20–30% over a forecasting model that relies on past violence to predict future attacks. The article studies an important question in the academic and policy worlds, advances the understanding of wartime dynamics, shows a high degree of methodological sophistication and rigour, and has important policy implications regarding the ‘hearts and minds’ approach in counter-insurgency.
The award is USD 1,000.
Honourable mention goes to the runners-up:
Anita R Gohdes (University of Zurich) and Sabine C Carey (University of Mannheim), ‘Canaries in a coal-mine? What the killings of journalists tell us about future repression’, Journal of Peace Research 54(2): 157–174.
Reed M Wood (Arizona State University) and Jakana L Thomas (Michigan State University), ‘Women on the frontline: Rebel group ideology and women’s participation in violent rebellion’, Journal of Peace Research 54(1): 31–46.