APCG/John Harbeson Distinguished Africanist Award (bi-annual) 2022

Winner (2022): Nicolas van de Walle, Cornell University
APCG John Harbeson Distinguished Africanist Award

Committee members: Dominika Koter (Colgate University, Chair), Adegbenga Aladegbola (Crawford University), Hassan Njoya (University of Buea), Vanessa van den Boogaard (University of Toronto)

Winner: Professor Nicolas van de Walle (Cornell University)

The committee selected Professor Nicolas van de Walle (Cornell University) as the 2022 recipient of the John Harbeson Distinguished Africanist Award. We were impressed by Professor van de Walle’s influential body of work, spanning both anglophone and francophone Africa, the accessibility of his scholarship, and the many testimonials of students and younger scholars who were directly influenced by his work and mentorship.

Professor Nicolas van de Walle contributed over the years to better understanding of the dynamics of politics in Africa, especially in the field of electoral politics and political economy. Among his most influential works, Democratic Experiments in Africa: Regime Transitions in Comparative Perspective, co-authored with Michael Bratton, explains the variation of outcomes in liberalization and democratization across the continent. His book, African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis, 1979-1999, provides major insights into African political economy, especially the failures of structural adjustment in Africa. In addition to these foundational texts, Professor van de Walle has also edited five other volumes and has published over a hundred articles and book chapters in the past thirty years. His writing is characterized by keen insight and clarity, making his work accessible to graduate and undergraduate students alike.

Apart from scholarly works, he has engaged in a wide range of public-facing work. He has been an active member of the discipline and various professional sections, including APCG, serving on editorial boards and committees. He has engaged with scholars and scholarly networks across the Atlantic, creating important connections and intellectual exchanges between scholars on different continents. He has provided steady mentorship of PhD students, as well as other younger scholars. His nomination was supported by 16 signatories who testified how instrumental he was in helping to encourage and promote the careers of many early-career Africanist scholars, including many who were not his own students.

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