2018 Davis Center Book Prize

The 2018 Davis Center Book Prize was awarded to Elidor Mëhilli for From Stalin to Mao: Albania and the Socialist World (Cornell University Press).

From Stalin to Mao is a superb and fascinating history that looks at the global context of the Cold War through the lenses of a usually-neglected small corner of the socialist world, Albania. Mëhilli offers a trove of new information and a compelling analysis of how Albania evolved from a Socialist client state subservient to Yugoslav and Soviet interests into one of the most isolated and autonomous states in the world. This seeming “backwater” of the Cold War era, almost a universe in a grain of sand, offers new insights into large-scale and mainstream trends of that era: Stalinism as a model, the cultures and sentiments of socialist internationalism, and the Sino-Soviet split. The book is not only excellent in its own right, but it serves as a great research model of how focused case studies on the “margins” of geopolitical power can yield fresh insight on the workings of power across the globe. For these achievements, the committee is pleased to award the Davis Center Prize to Elidor Mëhilli.

The 2018 Davis Center Book Prize was awarded to Natalia Roudakova for Losing Pravda: Ethics and The Press in Post-Truth Russia (Cambridge University Press)

Losing Pravda by Natalia Roudakova investigates a topic of great global currency and significance - the relationship between media and truth. Through careful analysis and deep sourcing, Losing Pravda rethinks the nature of one of the most politicized of Soviet institutions: journalism. Roudakova finds that, despite overt party control, Soviet journalists possessed a strong sense of professionalism. After presenting a detailed account of the practice of Soviet journalism, she then follows its dramatic transformation after the Soviet collapse - the rapid evolution of the journalistic profession and practice in the 1990s and 2000s Russia, which takes us to the present day and the moment of “post-truth”. Roudakova raises a big question for historians and social scientists studying the Cold War and its aftermath: what was and what still is the relationship between the citizen as a subject and the state, truth, propaganda, and belonging? Argued with vigor but also careful nuance, Losing Pravda speaks to wider publics concerned about current political trends where the relation of truth and power has become problematic in ways that the Soviet experience did not fully anticipate. This fascinating study therefore helps us rethink the role of media, truth, and power across Europe, the United States, and elsewhere. For these achievements, the committee is pleased to award the Davis Center Prize to Natalia Roudakova.