2008 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize

The 2008 Wayne S. Vucinich Book Prize was awarded to Adeeb Khalid, for Islam after Communism: Religion and Politics in Central Asia, published by the University of California Press.

With a finely tuned appreciation for the work of historical consciousness, cultural frames, and theological reason, Adeeb Khalid takes today’s “Central Asian problem,” and turns it on its head in this bravura study of how seven decades of Soviet rule deeply transformed religious and social action in contemporary Central Asia. Drawing on a diverse, polyglot range of sources, he shows the multiple ways by which socialist rule redefined the contours of Islamic practice in the USSR. Where scholars and commentators before him have been ready to declare Soviet-era Islam a unified democratic resistance movement only to later, paradoxically, proclaim post-Soviet Islam to be a threat, and in an age where Central Asian political networks are often primitivized through readings of their basis in clan or tribal structures, Khalid offers close readings of archival sources, memoirs, ethnographic record, and interviews to suggest a predominantly Muslim world area that is by no means antiquated or isolated from the political transformations across the formerly socialist world. Canons old and new are challenged in this finely written and elegant study.

Honorable Mentions

Chad Bryant received an honorable mention for Prague in Black: Nazi Rule and Czech Nationalism published by Harvard University Press

This excellent book takes a world of Czech lands prior to Nazi occupation, where “apolitical politics” and the liberties of what some called “public nationality” and “amphibious” social identifications once reigned, and explores how the arrival of German forces in World War II augured profoundly for how nationality was assigned, lived, determined, and so deeply transformed. Prague in Black is a beautifully written page-turner that reflects the state of the art in nationalist cultural histories.

John Randolph received an honorable mention for A House in the Garden: The Bakunin Family and the Romance of Russian Idealism, published by Cornell University Press. (A House in the Garden was also the winner of the 2008 W. Bruce Lincoln Book Prize.)

Reconstructing domestic life of a famous noble family, A House in the Garden challenges our understanding of the relations between the private domain, intellectual culture, and state structures in late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Russia. With rich example from the lives of the Bakunins, Belinsky, and Stankevich, this subtle and sophisticated book sets new standards for the writing of Russian intellectual history. It would be hard to imagine a finer treatment of such varied sources.