Winner of 2021 Conflict Research Society Book of the Year Prize

The Conflict Research Society congratulates Janet I. Lewis on winning the 2021 Conflict Research Society Book of the Year Prize for her book titled How Insurgency Begins: Rebel Group Formation in Uganda and Beyond published by Cambridge University Press (2020).

How Insurgency Begins: Rebel Group Formation in Uganda and Beyond examines how rebel groups form, and why only some incipient armed rebellions succeed in becoming viable challengers to governments.  How Insurgency Begins shows that rumours circulating in places where rebel groups form can influence civilians’ perceptions of both rebels and the state. By revealing the connections between villagers’ trusted network structures and local ethnic demography, Dr. Janet I. Lewis shows how ethnic networks facilitate the spread of rumours and information that favours rebel group development. This in-depth analysis of conflicts in Uganda and neighbouring states speaks to scholars and policymakers seeking to understand the motives and actions of those initiating armed rebellion, those witnessing the process in their community, and those trying to stop it.

The prize committee received over 50 nominations from conflict/peace researchers, institutions, practitioners and publishers from around the world. The committee chose the winning title out of 7 short-listed books based on criteria such as how well the book demonstrates a significant contribution to conflict/peace studies, impact factor, methodological rigour, robustness and credibility of the findings, the extent to which it is interdisciplinary, quality of writing and presentation.

Judges on the CRS Book Prize committee praised How Insurgency Begins: Rebel Group Formation in Uganda and Beyond for the way it identifies and “takes apart” some “prominent prevailing assumptions in the existing literature on rebel group formation” and subsequently offers “new ways of thinking about the initial stages of rebellion”.  The judges highlighted the “painstaking” work done to provide “excellent methodological rigour” in compiling new datasets and triangulating this with years of in-depth field work. The judges agreed that this was an “excellently structured, engagingly written and brilliantly argued book.”

This winner was elected out of a total of seven finalists in the shortlist. These were excellent contenders for the prize and the judges also praised the excellent quality of research in all of the shortlisted books. Our congratulations are extended to the following running up shortlisted titles (in no particular order):

  • Medie, P.A., 2020. Global Norms and Local Action: The Campaigns to End Violence Against Women in Africa. Oxford University Press 

  • Phillips, S.G., 2020. When There Was No Aid: War and Peace in Somaliland. Cornell University Press. 

  • Lacher, W., 2020. Libya’s Fragmentation: Structure and Process in Violent Conflict. Bloomsbury Publishing.

  • Schulz, P., 2020. Male Survivors of Wartime Sexual Violence, Perspectives from Northern Uganda. University of California Press.

  • Bove, V., Ruffa, C. and Ruggeri, A., 2020. Composing Peace: Mission Composition in UN Peacekeeping. Oxford University Press. 

  • Hultman, L. Jacob D. Kathman, and Megan Shannon, 2019. Peacekeeping in the Midst of War. Oxford University Press. 

Thank you also to the CRS Book Prize Judges – Pamina Firchow, Isabel Phillips, Govinda Clayton, Robert Nagel, and Andrew Thomson (facilitator).

The winner of this year’s CRS Book Prize, Janet I. Lewis will be invited to give a keynote talk to CRS members at the CRS annual conference, details TBC.

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