University of Rochester

Rochester Professor Wins National Political Science Book Award

November 8, 2007

Valeria Sinclair-Chapman, assistant professor of political science, won the 2007 Ralph Bunche Award from the American Political Science Association along with co-authors Fredrick C. Harris and Brian D. McKenzie, for the book, Countervailing Forces in African American Civic Activism 1973-1994.

Countervailing Forces explains that while African Americans gained access to mainstream political opportunities in the 1970s, economic distress in their communities during the same period of time stifled activism. The result, Sinclair-Chapman and her co-authors wrote, is an unanticipated form of political inequality today. The book was the first longitudinal study of black civic participation in the post-civil rights era.

The Bunche award is given annually by the APSA for the best scholarly work in political science that explores the phenomenon of ethnic and cultural pluralism.

In the award citation the selection committee wrote that the book was succinct, readable, and "a major contribution to the study of black politics."

"The authors demonstrate the complex interplay between economics and the ability of African Americans to effectively engage in the kinds of political and civic activities that give power and voice to historically disenfranchised groups," the citation states.

Sinclair-Chapman's research examines the substantive and symbolic representation of black interests in Congress as well as minority agenda-setting on the national level. She teaches courses in American politics and African-American politics. She is Director of the Center for the Study of African-American Politics, and associate member of the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies, and the Susan B. Anthony Institute for Gender and Women's Studies.

Harris, a former University of Rochester faculty member, is a professor of political science at Columbia University. McKenzie is an assistant professor of political science at Texas A&M University.

Ralph Bunche, an African American who the award is named for, was the first non-white to win the Nobel Peace Prize. He was awarded the honor in 1950 for his work as United Nations mediator in the Middle East.