2018 Tucker/Cohen Dissertation Prize
The 2018 Robert C. Tucker/Stephen F. Cohen Dissertation Prize was awarded to Rhiannon Dowling for “Brezhnev’s War on Crime: The Criminal in Soviet Society, 1963- 1984,” UC Berkeley
Dr. Dowling presents a nuanced view of legal institutional culture in the late-Soviet era that has broad relevance for law and politics. As Dowling’s dissertation so clearly and compellingly illustrates, the Brezhnev era was not one of stagnation but of intense citizen engagement in the system. The author uses debates and initiatives surrounding crime as a supposed holdover of the bourgeois past to get at the intense level of popular engagement in one of the most utopian conceptions of Soviet ideology. Drawing on meticulous archival research and a nuanced and creative reading of various popular culture sources, Dowling shows that there was widespread faith that the Soviet socialist system could eliminate crime. Citizens, law-enforcement authorities, and the party itself were drawn into this multifaceted effort to sweep crime into the dustbin of history. Ultimately, however, one of the unintended effects of these campaigns was to highlight widespread, systemic corruption and thus to solidify a view of the system as criminally corrupt and beyond repair.