The 2016 APG Ros Davies Memorial Travel Award was presented to Dominic Barker (Oxford University) his work on Ronald Reagan & Race:The Evolution of Colour-Blind Conservatism. The Alan Grant Memorial Travel Award was presented to Dafydd Townley (University of Reading) for his research on The Church Committee.
2015 Ros Davies Memorial Research Travel Award
Fieldwork report by Ilaria Di Gioia (Birmingham City University)
Thanks to the generosity of Prof. Philip Davies -who funded the Ros Davies Memorial Travel Award- I had the opportunity to travel to a snowy Denver, CO between 5-11 February 2016 and visit the headquarters of the National Conference of State Legislature (NCSL). The main purpose of my trip was to complete the data collection for my PhD dissertation in American Constitutional Law.
My PhD research investigates the aversion of some American state legislatures to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In particular, my dissertation consists of an analysis of the constitutional arguments used by the state legislators upon the introduction of bills that oppose the implementation of specific provisions of the ACA within the territory of the state. This type of legislative research requires the use of legal databases such as West Law and Nexis Lexis. However, these databases are limited to statute search and do not allow the user to track the history of a certain bill, the introduced version and the debate before the enactment. A more appropriate database for this purpose is State Net, an American legal database unavailable in any UK institution.
I had the opportunity to use State Net during my research trip to Denver, thanks to the kindness of Richard Cauchi, Health Program Director at NCSL, who dedicated two full working days to my project. With the help of Director Cauchi, I identified the most appropriate search strategies and conducted a targeted search that allowed me to examine a good amount of new data and refine my old database. It was particularly useful to collect state sovereignty bills filed in January 2016 that will need to be tracked over the rest of the legislative year.
The visit to NCSL allowed me to make exceptional progress with my research and I have been lucky to meet talented researchers that provided valuable insights into legislative search strategies. I am still in contact with the researchers at NCSL and we constantly share information and updates on the status of states' legislation in healthcare.
Overall, the research trip to Denver, CO has enormously contributed to the depth of my legislative research and to the credibility of my PhD dissertation. I shall update this report once my PhD dissertation has been examined.
From the top left: 16th Street Mall, Colorado State Capitol Building, Snow in Lowry, Denver.
2014 Ros Davies Memorial Research Travel Award fieldwork report
Lilia Giugni (University of Cambridge)
The Ros Davies Memorial Research Travel Award allowed me to spend six weeks in Washington DC between April and May 2015. I am a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, POLIS Department, where I study the transformations of the European left and the impact of the American model on its changing ideology. The exchanges of ideas and practices between the American Democrats and several European organizations, especially after the mid-1990s, play a key role in my research. Transnational cooperation and policy transfer between parties from the two sides of the Atlantic are a fascinating and rather understudied topic, very pertinent to current political developments.
During my time in DC, I had the chance to work on a daily basis at the Library of Congress. Its wide collections and precious online resources helped me to reconstruct the contacts between Democratic officers and representatives of Western European parties, most particularly the British Labour. The publications and documents of the Democratic Leadership Council, the main organization behind Bill Clinton's successful presidential campaigns and the development of the Third Way platform, were especially helpful. Copies of Blueprint, the DLC's in-house magazine, and reports of the Third Way meetings hosted in Europe and the US, supplied very useful information.
The other essential source of my analysis are qualitative interviews of party officers and policy advisors. While in DC, I was lucky enough to meet and interview key actors of the Clinton's administration, including Al From (the DLC's founder), Simon Rosenberg, leader of the New Democratic Network, the New Democrat and former CEO of the DLC Bruce Reed, and Elaine Kamarck, Al Gore's influential policy advisor. These interviews provided me with essential material for the PhD thesis I am currently drafting. Moreover, this material will be the basis of a journal article that I soon intend to author.
Overall, I am incredibly grateful to the APG for having supported me through such an enriching and fruitful experience. My time in the US has not only been crucial to the completion of my PhD research, but also taught me a lot on the peculiarities of academic work in the US. Above all, it has provided me with the unique opportunity to immerse myself in the political buzz of the very world I am studying.
Ros Davies Memorial Travel Award 2015
Ilaria Di Gioia (Birmingham City University) will undertake a research visit to the National Conference ofState Legislatures (NCSL) headquarters in Denver, CO as part of research into states' legislation on theenactment of the Affordable Care Act.
Alan Grant Memorial Travel Award 2015
H. Howell Williams (Manchester University / New School for Social Research, NY) will undertake a research visit to Columbia and Charleston, SC, as part of postdoctoral research on child support enforcement, particularly the implementation of jail sentences for failure to pay.
Sincere thanks to Professor Philip Davies for generously funding the Ros Davies MemorialTravel Award and to the APG membership for collectively funding the Alan GrantMemorial Travel Award.
A Report From Joe Ryan-Hume (University of Glasgow): The APG Alan Grant Memorial Research Travel Award PG Recipient 2015
The APG Travel Award enabled me to spend five weeks in Washington DC, based at the Library of Congress (LOC) on a daily basis. My research findings at the LOC were fundamental to the development of a thesis chapter, which could only be completed with access to specific manuscript collections and digitized databases; the only institution to house comprehensive access to them both.
I am a current third-year Ph.D. student based in the Department of History at the University of Glasgow. My thesis questions the notion of conservative ascendancy and the so-called 'Reagan revolution' in 1980s America by reinterpreting the impact of liberalism at the time. By thoroughly examining how liberals functioned both within and distinct from the Democratic Party in opposition, I intend to dispel the argument that the history of 1980s liberalism is one of incompetence and ineffectiveness. Instead, I will highlight how the networks that formed and developed whilst in opposition helped liberals attain success at state and congressional level, as well as facilitate Bill Clinton's subsequent presidential triumph in 1992. Furthermore, as this is the era in which Barack Obama - at the time an organiser for Ralph Nader's Public Interest Group - and many of the President's allies became politically active, it would be impossible to understand the present administration's historic ascension without an examination of the political environment that first nurtured Obama and his cohort.
In order to effectively survey liberalism during this tumultuous decade, a section of my thesis focuses on Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY.), a liberal champion and vocal critic of the Reagan administration. From an examination of my initial research, completed whilst a 2014 John W. Kluge fellow at the LOC, it became clear that Moynihan played a crucial role in protecting liberalism's brightest jewel, Social Security, from conservative dissection. With a case study titled 'Social Security and the 1982 Midterms', I sought to use the collections at the LOC to show how and why a strong liberal defence of Social Security in 1982, driven by Moynihan in the Senate and supplemented by the activism of liberal interest groups, dissuaded the Reagan administration from attempting major revisions and had a dramatic impact on the 1982 midterms.
Indeed, Senator Moynihan's personal papers are housed at the LOC and excavating through these during my research visit, from his correspondence, speeches, and legislative files to his various press releases and personally penned notes, allowed me to effectively pinpoint the exact moment a successful liberal backlash to a key facet of Reagan's conservative agenda started to take hold. By determining the various strategies that were implemented in order to do so, my research findings highlighted that by exploiting the Social Security issue, liberals effectively regained ideological control of the House of Representatives following the 1982 midterms.
Moynihan, alongside Democratic Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill, literally took the Social Security issue and ran with it, slowly gaining much needed ground on the political terrain of domestic issues. Using online resources, particularly the Congressional Record and CQ Press, allowed me to discover how the Social Security issue reshaped the contours of Reagan's America and slowed the pace of the 'Reagan Revolution' steam train. Alongside this, I was able to use contemporary newspaper and magazine clippings to reinforce the findings from the Moynihan papers and Congressional collections. Gathering this information has helped me to map out how and why liberals were able to gain such political traction on an issue seen by conservatives to epitomise the supposedly elephantine, bloated nature of the federal government. By discovering some of the varied strategies implemented in order to save Social Security from the conservative chopping board, this research has greatly improved the range and depth of my thesis.
The lack of access to such varied materials at The University of Glasgow hindered the progression of this research beforehand - not only through an inability to consult the primary sources stored at the LOC, but my university library does not have access or subscriptions to most digitized American newspaper databases for example. Thus, the APG Award allowed me to carry out all of the research required for this chapter over a five-week period. I sub-rented a room on Capitol Hill, walked by Thomas Walter's famous dome every morning, and immersed myself in the politics of Washington in the balmy summer of 2015.
The majority of my findings regarding Moynihan and the Social Security battle of the early 1980s will be published in my thesis, which has the working title 'Standing in Reagan's Shadow: Liberal Strategies in a Conservative Age.' The overall range and depth of this thesis has benefited greatly from the APG Award and the consequential research period in Washington, both allowing me to precisely determine the role liberals played in influencing policy, as on Social Security, as well as enabling me to initially uncover some of the networks and organisational strategies that developed to ensure success whilst in opposition. Finally, alongside supporting me to further develop a key analytical aspect of my PhD, my time at the LOC enabled me to begin work on a paper based on my research for consideration in a number of high-impact journals.
The University of Glasgow
At the APG annual colloquium held at the US Embassy, London, the 2014 Ros Davies Memorial Research Travel Award was received by Lilia Guigni of Trinity Hall College, Cambridge. Lilia will travel to Washington DC in 2015 to undertake research at the US Library of Congress as part of her PhD studies. Lilia's thesis is entitled 'New Democrats, New Labour and PDS-DS-PD. Party change, legacy of the American model and exchange of ideas between the two sides of the Atlantic'.