Political Science Now

Matthew Kocher — 2017 Heinz Eulau Award Recipient

The Heinz Eulau prize is awarded annually for the best article published in the American Political Science Review and for the best article published in Perspectives on Politics in the calendar year. It carries a prize of $750. Special thanks go to Cambridge University Press for support of the new prize given in 2005, recognizing scholarship in Perspectives on Politics.

In 2004, the APSA Council acted to incorporate the best paper published in Perspectives in Politics under the umbrella of the Heinz Eulau Award, as well as the best paper published in APSR. This action was taken to allow APSA to recognize articles in Perspectives on Politics in a way parallel with APSR, without transgressing a council moratorium on new awards. As we build up award endowment, we expect in the future that the two awards will be separated. To manage the effort involved in selecting best articles for two journals, APSA President Margaret Levi, in consultation with the Award Committee Chair, increased the number of appointees to the Eulau Committee from 3 to 5, and suggested that two members focus on APSR articles and two on Perspectives on Politics articles, with the chair acting as the swing participant and coordinating voice.

Matthew Adam Kocher, Ph.D, University of Chicago, 2004, is a senior lecturer in the Political Science Department and the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Kocher’s research is concerned with the causes and internal dynamics of civil wars and other violent social processes. Within this field, he has been an innovator in the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), quantitative micro-comparative analysis, and the construction of datasets from archival materials. His work has been published in the American Journal of Political ScienceWorld PoliticsPerspectives on Politics, Politics and Society, the Journal of Peace ResearchPolitical Analysis and Política y Gobierno. He has won the American Political Science Association’s (APSA) 2006 Gabriel A. Almond Award for the best dissertation in comparative politics, the APSA Comparative Politics Section’s 2009 Gregory Luebbert award for the best professional article in comparative politics, and the 2009 Article of the Year Award from the Journal of Peace Research. Dr. Kocher has previously taught at the Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE) in Mexico City, the University of Notre Dame, the University of Chicago, and Yale University.

In “Lines of Demarcation: Causation, Design-Based Inference and Historical Research” (Perspectives, vol. 14, issue 4), the authors, Matthew A Kocher and Nuno P Monteiro make a strong argument for methodological pluralism in political science through a tightly argued demonstration of the dependence of an design-based inference approaches on the qualitative, idiographic historical work that necessarily underpins construction of its data as well as validates the hypothesis and the selection of its cases. The article is deeply original in that it builds from the epistemological debates on degrees of scientificity to elaborate a precise, meticulous and rigorous argument using re-analysis of a natural experiment on the effect of devolving powers to local elites on resistance to foreign occupation. The authors use qualitative and quantitative historical evidence to show that the causal inference alleged by the original study is invalidated when one considers that the “causes that produce the data operates trans-locally, associations on political, economic, or social variables that are measurable on the disaggregated units may entirely miss the truly underlying causes of the outcome under study”. Whilst the object of enquiry is methodological and epistemological, the article speaks to all sections of the discipline and its conclusions of the article are significant for all political scientists seriously concerned with the validity and plausibility of their research.