2014-2015 Winners

This annual award, which carries a $500 prize, has been established with the generous support of Guido Ruggiero, Professor of History, in memory of his brother, David John Ruggiero.


Rami El-Ali (Philosophy)

Rami El-AliRami El-Ali’s Illusionism: Making the Problem of Hallucinations Disappear makes a significant contribution to the philosophy of perception, arguing convincingly that misperceptions, specifically illusions and hallucinations, do not compromise our perceptual contact with the objects around us. In this view, which he terms “pure relationism” made possible by “illusionism,” he confronts the traditional models which hold that perceptual states either fall short of perceptual contact with the world or are disjunctive in nature, with some cases involving perceptual contact and others not. El-Ali deftly and with remarkable lucidity of expression tackles such matters as the distinction between the perception of a thing and the thing itself, and cases where nothing itself actually exists. The result is a study with a broad, humanistic appeal, thought-provoking for specialists and non-specialists alike.


Danielle Boaz (History)

Danielle BoazDanielle Boaz’s dissertation, Witchcraft, Witchdoctors, and Empire: The Proscription and Prosecution of African Spiritual Practices in British Atlantic Colonies, 1760-1960s, sheds new light on the interaction of law, politics, and religion in Britain’s African and Caribbean colonies. Examining dozens of witchcraft laws and the ways they were applied in more than 1,500 court cases, Boaz not only shows that policies regarding African spiritual practices varied across the British empire, but offers cogent explanations of why these policies varied in different times and places. The result is an important contribution to our understanding of the British Empire and the ways in which religious practices were regulated within its boundaries. Scholars across the disciplines will both enjoy and profit from Boaz’s clearly written, analytically robust, and detailed study.