The Merze Tate Award honors the best doctoral dissertation successfully defended during the previous two years in the field of international relations, law, and politics. 

The award is presented at the APSA Annual Meeting and carries a cash prize of $750. This award was previously known as the Dwight Reid Award.

Nominations and self-nominations close at midnight EST on Friday, February 14, 2020


Merze-Tate Award Committee

Chair: Dr. David G. Victor
University of California, San Diego
[email protected]

Dr Jennifer S Hunt
Australian National University
[email protected]

Dr. Kathy L. Powers
University of New Mexico
[email protected]

About Merze Tate & Helen Dwight Reid

The Helen Dwight Reid Award was presented for the first time in 1966. For many years, the award was funded by the Helen Dwight Reid Foundation, established in tribute to the Kirkpatricks, and for the purpose of “advance[ing] effective American leadership and engagement in ways that promote democratic development, human rights, and a just peace.”

Helen Dwight Reid’s primary contribution to scholarship was International Servitudes in Law and Practice, published in 1932 by the University of Chicago Press. Her book catalogs and classifies “international servitudes”, which are agreements among independent states “whereby the territory of one state is made liable to permanent use by another state, for some specified purpose” (p. 25). These include, among others, agreements about the use of natural resources, fishing rights, transit routes, military bases, and demilitarized zones. Reid argues that these agreements facilitate redistribution of resources without limiting sovereignty.  

In 2010, the Helen Dwight Reid Foundation ceased to exist, and sponsorship of the award ended. At the 2015 Annual Meeting, the committee developed criteria for a new name of the award.  After discussion, the committee unanimously decided to support a recommendation that the Helen Dwight Reid Award be renamed the Merze Tate Award.    

Merze Tate was the first African American woman studying international relations to receive a doctoral degree in Government (1941, Radcliffe). She published many books and articles, including The Disarmament Illusion: The Movement for a Limitation of Armaments to 1907 (New York: MacMillan and Co., 1942), The United States and Armaments (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1948), and The United States and the Hawaiian Kingdom: A Political History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965). Most of her career was spent as a professor of History at Howard University, although she also traveled as a foreign correspondent. Tate and her work have been profiled in such publications as PS: Political Science and Politics (profile written by Maurice C. Woodard and published in the January 2005 issue) and White World Order, Black Power Politics: The Birth of American International Relations, by Robert Vitalis (Cornell University Press, 2015). Tate is the subject of at least one intellectual biography in progress. In choosing to name the award after Merze Tate, the committee noted that “her perseverance in the face of significant structural obstacles is inspiring and particularly meaningful for a dissertation award.”

Year Author Dissertation Submitted by


Ranjit Lall

Making International Organizations Work: The Politics of Institutional Performance

Harvard University


Christoph Mikulaschek

The Power of the Weak: How Informal Power-Sharing Shapes the Work of the United Nations Security Council

Princeton University


Rochelle Terman

Backlash: Defiance, Human Rights, and the Politics of Shame

University of California, Berkeley


Melissa Lee

Mind the Gap? The International Sources of Sovereignty and State Weakness

Stanford University


Nicholas Miller

Hegemony and Nuclear Proliferation

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Joshua David Kertzer

Resolve in International Politics

Ohio State University


Aila Matanock

International Insurance:  Why Militant Groups and Governments Compete with Ballots Instead of Bullets

Stanford University


Margaret E. Peters

Open Trade, Closed Borders: Immigration Policy in the Era of Globalization

Stanford University


Daniel Levine

Critical Wrestlings: The Problem of Sustainable Critique in International Theory

Johns Hopkins University


Stephen Craig Nelson

Creating Credibility: the International Monetary Fund and the Neoliberal Revolution in the Developing World

Cornell University


Jessica Chen Weiss

Powerful Patriots:  Nationalism, Dipolomacy, and the Strategic Logic of Anti-Foreign Protest

University of California, San Diego


Margarita Hristoforova Petrova

Leadership Competition and the Creation of Norms

Cornell University


Jason M.K. Lyall

Paths of Ruin: Why Revisionist States Arise and Die in World Politics

Cornell University


Alexander B. Downes

Targeting Civilians in Wartime

University of Chicago


Emilie Marie Hafner-Burton

Globalizing Human Rights? How International Trade Agreements Shape Government Repression

Nuffield College, Oxford University


Helen M. Kinsella

The Image Before the Weapon: A Genealogy of the 'Civilian' in International Law and Politics

University of Minnesota


Stephen G. Brooks

The Globalization of Production and International Security

Yale University


Tanisha Fazal

Born to Lose and Doomed to Survive: State Death and Survival in the International System

Stanford University


Jon C. Pevehouse

Democracy from Above? Regional Organizations and Democratization

University of Wisconsin, Madison