2019 Ed A Hewett Book Prize
The 2019 Ed A Hewett Book Prize Winner is Artemy M. Kalinovsky for Laboratory of Socialist Development: Cold War Politics and Decolonization in Soviet Tajikistan (Cornell University Press)
Artemy Kalinovsky’s Laboratory of Socialist Development explores the Soviet policies of economic development and decolonization in Tajikistan between World War II and the collapse of the Soviet Union. The book tells the history of the Soviet developmental project through the experiences of Tajik workers, peasants, engineers, and intellectuals, placing it in a broader perspective of Russian-Asian and Cold War connections. Laboratory of Socialist Development is an insightful and nicely written account of the history of Soviet modernization in Central Asia, with the central focus on the construction of the World’s tallest dam. It is an impressive original case study that is based on extensive archival research, supplemented with interviews and Soviet historiography. It displays a comparative sensitivity both to Soviet Central Asia studies and Development Studies more generally. Laboratory of Socialist Development does an outstanding job of exploring the tension between macro-policy and big ideas on the one hand and actual implementation practices and local actors on the other. The Tajikistan findings resonate with the larger Soviet experience and are connected to the broader context of the Cold War. This theoretically driven, engaging, and empathetic exploration of the Soviet visions and Central Asian practices of modernization opens a new window into the issues of colonialism, modernity, and development moving the field in new and important directions.