2012 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize

The ASEEES Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize, sponsored by ASEEES and the Stanford University Center for Russian and East European Studies, is awarded annually for the most important contribution to Russian, Eurasian, and East European studies in any discipline of the humanities or social sciences published English in the United States in the previous calendar year.

The 2012 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize was awarded to Catherine Evtuhov for Portrait of a Russian Province: Economy, Society, and Civilization in Nineteenth-Century Nizhnii Novgorod (University of Pittsburgh Press).

Portrait of a Russian Province is a mature, erudite, and gracefully written book. Evtuhov uses Nizhnii Novgorod in the period between 1840-1890 as a prism for revealing the dynamism of the Russian provincial setting and to offer a much broader, richer account of the concept of "province." She examines Nizhnii Novgorod both as a concrete space (soil, rivers, ravines, urban spaces, market networks) and as an imagined project for local intellectuals, professionals and activists in the post-reform period. The treatment of how local society and regional vlast' interacted, collaborated and clashed is nuanced and convincing; the complex, often crucial impact of Old Believer settlements is traced subtly. The book is based on a range of sources, from the literary, photographic and journalistic to the work of demographers and historians; archival material is used astutely, although Evtuhov also demonstrates by her recourse to underused provincial publications how much new information has long been available in plain view. Portrait of a Russian Province situates its argument generously within the debates of other scholars and wears its erudition lightly. It offers a deeply pleasurable reading experience and provides a strong impulse for scholars disciplines to rethink the dynamics and texture of Russian life in the late imperial era.

Honorable Mentions

Katerina Clark received an Honorable Mention for Moscow, the Fourth Rome: Stalinism, Cosmopolitanism, and the Evolution of Soviet Culture, 1931-1941 (Harvard University Press).

A brilliant, revisionist study of what had seemed an isolated Moscow in an era when deep connections to European thinkers and activists, as this book argues, actually contextualized the redesign and symbolic recreation of Moscow in the 1930s. This is powerfully theorized work of literary history, informed by rich knowledge of social science, architecture, film, the visual arts, and theater and presenting splendid readings of material as varied as cultural theory, building ensembles, and show trials. Moscow, the Fourth Rome redefines the emergence of Soviet culture in broader and much more compelling terms.

Gail Kligman and Katherine Verdery received an Honorable Mention for Peasants under Siege: The Collectivization of Romanian Agriculture, 1949-1962 (Princeton University Press).

An impressive account of state formation and technology transfer in communism, which will be exemplary for studies of other countries and will provide a strong, new foundation for all work on modern Romania. Distinguished by its mastery of a vast array of evidence, and equally by its patient treatment of hugely complex topics, from the formation of cadres to kinship networks, Peasants under Siege is also deeply humane in showing how new subjectivities emerged under collectivization.