Samuel Ritholtz scoops top prize for best doctoral thesis in International Studies

Departmental lecturer in International Relations Samuel Ritholtz has been jointly awarded the British International Studies Association's Michael Nicholson Thesis Prize for the best doctoral thesis in International Studies. 

Samuel was a joint winner of the prize, alongside Dr Chloe Sydney of Aberystwyth University. Samuel’s thesis ‘Civil War and the Politics of Difference: Paramilitary Violence against LGBT People in Columbia’, explores the dynamics of violence against LGBTIQ+ people during war through an analysis of paramilitary violence against this population in Colombia in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s.

It sought to engage debates of political violence, conflict processes, and international relations with insights from political theory, psychology, sociology, as well as sexuality and gender studies, in order to understand how anti-LGBT violence relates to the logics of war.

The prize committee commented:

"the dissertation exemplifies methodological rigour through its inductive research design, careful case study analysis, ethical considerations, interdisciplinary approach, and significant theoretical contributions. Each of these aspects underpins the scholarly value of the work, demonstrating a comprehensive and meticulous approach to understanding the complex dynamics of paramilitary violence against LGBT people in Colombia during the civil war. The dissertation demonstrates an exceptional contribution to scholarship."

The dissertation was developed through fieldwork and archival research in Colombia that Samuel continues today. Two chapters from the dissertation have been published in Global Studies Quarterly and Third World Quarterly.

Only earlier this year Samuel was also awarded the Political Studies Association's Elizabeth Wiskemann Prize for best dissertation on (in)equality & social justice for their thesis.

They commented: 

I’m extremely touched to receive this recognition from the British International Studies Association and to be connected with the legacy of Michael Nicholson. This dissertation owes much to the social leaders and activists in Colombia, who have worked hard to preserve their history and seek justice. I thank them and hope that my work accurately reflects the time and knowledge they shared with me.”

Samuel has recently published a co-edited volume on Queer Conflict Research with Bristol University Press, which is a research guide for anyone trying to do sensitive research in violent contexts. 

Beyond that, they are currently working on turning their dissertation into a monograph and will do another round of fieldwork in Colombia this summer. They are also completing a monograph project with Dr Rebecca Buxton on the political theory of LGBT refuge.

The Michael Nicholson Thesis Prize is awarded annually and named after the late Michael Nicholson, formerly Professor of International Relations at the Universities of Kent and Sussex. It aims to support the work of new scholars and has promoted outstanding work in many sub-fields over the years. Past winners have often gone on to pursue successful academic careers.