2018 ASEEES Distinguished Contributions Award Recipient Diane Koenker

Established in 1970, the Distinguished Contributions to Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Award honors eminent members of the profession who have made major contributions to the field through scholarship of the highest quality, mentoring, leadership, and/or service to the profession. The prize is intended to recognize diverse contributions across the Slavic, East European, and Eurasian studies field. The 2018 award is presented to Diane P. Koenker, Director and Professor of Russian and Soviet History, University College London School of Slavonic and East European Studies.

Diane KoenkerProfessor Diane P. Koenker is a renowned and groundbreaking historian. For over thirty years her scholarship has been key to defining the trajectories and shaping major debates in Soviet history. Noted for the inventiveness of her research, the rigor of her methodology, and her commitment to scholarly collaboration, Koenker has made particularly notable contributions to the fields of labor history and the history of leisure and consumption. Among her many pathbreaking books and articles several stand out. Her first book, Moscow Workers and the 1917 Revolution (Princeton University Press, 1981), served as a cornerstone for the social history of the revolution, while Republic of Labor: Russian Printers and Soviet Socialism, 1918-1930 (Cornell University Press, 2005), artfully blends cultural and social approaches to questions of class. Koenker’s facility as a social historian who attends to gender as well as class formation has made articles such as “Men against Women on the Shop Floor in Early Soviet Russia,” published in the American Historical Review (1995), resonate far beyond the Russian field. More recently, her pathbreaking study of tourism, Club Red: Vacation Travel and the Soviet Dream (Cornell University Press, 2013), offers innovative insights on what it meant to “live Soviet.” Her work has been supported by numerous distinguished funding agencies, including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the International Research and Exchanges Board, and Fulbright-Hays.

Koenker, who earned her BA from Grinnell College and her MA and PhD from the University of Michigan, has served the profession with unwavering integrity and generosity. She has held every leadership position at ASEEES, including President (2013), positions on the Board of Directors (1996-2006, 2007-2009, 2012-2014), and membership on the Executive Committee (2003-2006, 2012-2014). As editor of Slavic Review from 1996 to 2006 she incorporated the same kinds of collaborative approaches, mentoring practices and rigorously professional standards into running the journal that are the hallmarks of her scholarship. She was the first female editor of the journal and received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Association of Women in Slavic Studies in 2014.

In the course of her illustrious career at the University of Illinois, she mentored seventeen PhD students, chaired the Department of History (2011-2015), directed the Russian and East European Center (1990-1996), and oversaw the history graduate program (2008-2010). Praised as a model supervisor and lifelong mentor by her doctoral students, she was also recognized for her challenging and exciting undergraduate courses with numerous teaching awards. Her appointment this year at University College London, as Director of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies testifies both to her exemplary record of leadership and her commitment to serving the field.

A brilliant social historian whose deep knowledge and meticulous research helped define the cultural turn in Soviet history, Diane Koenker has served the profession through her extraordinary efforts as a mentor, editor, colleague and leader of ASEEES. She has clearly made distinguished contributions to Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies.