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Women’s and Gender Studies Professor Wins Prestigious First Book Award

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Sina Kramer holding her book "Excluded Within"Sina Kramer, assistant professor of women’s and gender studies, has won the American Political Science Association’s 2018 Foundations of Political Theory First Book Award for “Excluded Within: The (Un)Intelligibility of Radical Political Actors.”

This is the first major award for Kramer, who has taught in WGST at LMU since 2014. Her interdisciplinary background in philosophy, political theory and feminist theory informs her approach to teaching and researching complex social and political issues.

“My work weaves together all of these fields in a way that I hope brings fresh insights into their mixture and maybe their tension,” says Kramer.

Since 2003, Kramer has been intrigued by the idea of studying: who am I (as part of a we)? And, how do we know? She came to these questions by way of her own experience as an early dissenter of the war in Iraq. In the weeks and months after the invasion, 70 percent of Americans polled believed Saddam Hussein to be responsible for the September 11 attacks. Those who questioned this notion, were made to feel like traitors.

“My sense of what was true, and what was real, no longer matched up with that of my peers, or the nation, and a lot of effort seemed to be put into discounting certain truths as unreasonable, or even dangerous,” says Kramer. “I started to notice similar experiences and wondered how they functioned and what role they played in defining us politically.”

Kramer used her training as a philosopher to look at these topics closely and with conceptual clarity, which led to a realization that she had been reading philosophical texts for what they exclude, as much as for what they include. With “Excluded Within,” Kramer takes this idea of ‘constitutive exclusion’ and applies it to contemporary issues and politics.

“I hope that after reading the book, readers worry that they too might be defined through exclusions that make the voices of the excluded difficult or impossible to hear or understand. I hope that they worry about what that requires of us. I hope that they pause to wonder who we might become if we didn’t define ourselves in this way. And I hope that we can find out together,” says Kramer.

On August 30, Kramer will join a list of great thinkers and writers when she receives the award at the annual APSA conference in Boston.

“This is a big deal for a graduate of ‘the little university under the El,’ as DePaul used to call itself,” says Kramer. “My frame of measurement is drawn from the history of philosophy, where a book’s value isn’t seen until years later. So, it is gratifying that the book has found an audience at all and I am humbled and overjoyed by APSA’s recognition of it.”