University of Notre Dame Scholar Wins Book Prize

Monika Nalepa, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, was awarded the 2012 Leon D. Epstein Prize from the American Political Science Association. Professor Nalepa was honored for her book Skeletons in the Closet: Transitional Justice in Post-Communist Europe (Cambridge University Press). The book examines how the new non-communist governments made decisions on whether and how to penalize members of the former authoritarian regimes in Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.

Her research found that many officials of the new regimes had collaborated with Communist officials before the change of power occurred. Thus, the new powerbrokers were reluctant to prosecute the former officials for fear of the exposure of their own “skeletons in the closet.”

Mark Brewer, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maine and chair of the prize committee, said, “The sheer size and scope of Nalepa’s research design stood out from the very beginning of the evaluation process. Our committee was even more impressed that she was able to actually carry out the project and produce such significant results.”

Dr. Nalepa is a native of Poland. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Warsaw and a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. from Columbia University.

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