Heldt Prizes

The Heldt Prize recognizes the accomplishments of Barbara Heldt, one of the founding mothers of Slavic Studies in the United States and of the AWSS. Known for both her feminist scholarship and her commitment to the field, the prize is a fitting tribute to Heldt’s generous support for women and for women’s and gender studies.

Each year AWSS awards three Heldt Prizes:

  • Best book by a woman-identifying scholar in any area of Slavic/East European/Eurasian Studies
  • Best book in Slavic/East European/Eurasian women’s and gender studies
  • Best article in Slavic/East European/Eurasian women’s and gender studies

AWSS invites nominations for the 2022 competition for the Heldt Prizes, awarded for works of scholarship and translations. To be eligible for nomination, all books and articles must be in English and have been published between 15 April 2021 and 15 April 2022.

The prizes will be awarded at the AWSS meeting at the ASEEES National Convention in Chicago in November 2022.

Instructions for nominating books. One may nominate individual books for more than one category, and more than one item for each category. To nominate any work, please send or request that the publisher send one copy to each member of the prize committee (or the relevant subcommittee) by 31 May 2022. Both hard copy and e-versions are acceptable. If you have any questions about the book prizes, please contact the book prize committee chair: Dr. Sara Dickinson at sara.dickinson@unige.it.  More information can be found on our announcement flyer.

 

2022 Awards

AWSS is pleased to announce the 2022 Heldt Award Winners

AWSS Heldt prize for best book by a woman-identifying scholar in any area of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies 2022

Winner

Jadwiga Biskupska. Survivors: Warsaw under the Nazi Occupation. Cambridge University Press, 2022.

This wonderfully written and well-researched book offers a compelling portrait of different groups within the Polish intelligentsia over the course of WWII, exploring its multifaceted resistance to Nazi occupation. Contextualized in the fascinating story of how the Polish intelligentsia came to be, it explains how – despite differing views on a number of issues and the variable and evolving influence of specific personalities – the intellighentsia managed to develop and preserve an idea of the Polish nation through the war years. Biskupska asks big questions and, though she writes on a relatively familiar topic, develops her own sober, honest, and profound analysis, eschewing simple anecdotes and moralizing stories. Working with a deep source base in multiple languages, she presents the important successes achieved by the Polish intelligentsia that have up generally obscured by attention to the successive period and the dynamics of the Soviet imposition of power at war’s end. More generally, Survivors offers a compelling model for how to write about cities under Nazi control.

 

Honorable Mention (alphabetical:

Eliza Ablovatski. Revolution and Political Violence in Central Europe: The Deluge of 1919. Cambridge University Press, 2021.

Ablovatski’s excellent and absorbing book discusses the failed Socialist revolutions in 1919 Munich and Budapest. A transnational comparison of the German and Hungarian experiences in that year and afterwards, this book “decenters” the Russian Revolution, by focusing on its influence in Central Europe. Admirable for the difficulty of its topic and the breadth of its research (linguistically, geographically, historically), Revolution and Political Violence in Central Europe deserves note for its discussion of revolution’s aftermath, which includes the creation and the manipulation of memory as it relates to the revolution and to the counterrevolution that follows. Ablovatski’s book is also stunning in its conceptualization of violence and gender, and it treats sexual violence with particular nuance and sensitivity.

Theodora K. Dragostinova. The Cold War from the Margins: A Small Socialist State on the Global Cultural Scene. Cornell University Press, 2021.

Dragostinova’s beautifully written and uniquely engaging study begins with the unexpected link of late Soviet Bulgaria to Nigeria. In what follows, we explore the fate of a “small Socialist state” attempting to establish its place on the world stage, a process in which Bulgaria was remarkably successful. Dragostinova explores the path designed and followed by this nation in an attempt to become internationally visible and to consolidate important and useful ties to other countries. Eminently readable and informative, this book advances a series of case studies to add a human touch to the important ideas under discussion, such as “totalitarianism”, agency, and social control. Dragostinova shows us the second world as it emerges into a global framework, making surprising connections between small and large nations in the globe’s many “peripheries” and providing much food for thought.

 

AWSS Heldt prize for best book in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian women’s and gender studies 2022

Winner

Katalin Fábián, Janet Elise Johnson, and Mara Lazda. Routledge Handbook of Gender in Central-Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Routledge, 2021.

Unparalleled in its usefulness for the fields of study indicated in the title of this prize, the Routledge Handbook of Gender in Central-Eastern Europe and Eurasia assembles a dazzling collection of high-level articles into a coherent and well-formulated whole. Excellent editing permits the enormous breadth of topics introduced here to work both individually and in concert. Readers are treated to sensitive and eye-opening discussions of differences and similarities across a region which features not only different landscapes and languages, but also widely diverse imperial histories and religious traditions. A powerhouse of research on important topics, this volume will be a tremendous resource for years to come.

Honorable Mention

Mie Nakachi. Replacing the Dead: The Politics of Reproduction in the Postwar Soviet Union. Oxford University Press, 2021.

Nakachi’s fascinating book argues that the Soviet Union in 1955 was the first state to make abortion a “woman’s right.” The volume offers stupendous oral histories supported by careful research and analysis; these are recounted with great empathy and without moral judgment. We learn of multiple individual approaches to the postwar abortion regime in Soviet Russia, of suffering, and of survival. In the aftermath of Roe vs. Wade being overturned, this smart and observant history of abortion will be sought out by many.

 

 AWSS Heldt prize for best article in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Women’s and Gender Studies 2022

Winner

Andrea Bělehradová and Kateřina Lišková. “Aging Women as Sexual Beings. Expertise between the 1950s and 1970s in State Socialist Czechoslovakia.” The History of the Family, 26, no. 4 (2021), 562-82. https://doi.org/10.1080/1081602X.2021.1955723

In their article, Bělehradová and Lišková take up the important issue of climacteric and post-menopausal women and their sexual pleasure under state socialism in Czechoslovakia. This innovative article sits at the crossroads of anthropology, sociology, and medical history and traces the transnational knowledge networks that informed women’s health discourses in the mid-twentieth century. The committee was particular impressed by the way the authors used research on women’s sexuality from three Central European countries, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, but then also documented how translations of work by American sexologists affected state socialist medical conversations. Giving a thorough background on women’s sexual and reproductive health, the authors examine four Czechoslovak medical journals to trace the developing interests of experts in aging women as a new kind of sexual being. The range of sources, the clear organization and writing, and the convincing argument about the need for more such comparative research made this article stand out as superlative.

Honorable Mention

Irina Roldugina. “Homosexuality in the Late Imperial Russian Navy: A Microhistory.” Kritika 22, no. 3 (summer 2021), 451-78. doi:10.1353/kri.2021.0033.

Roldugina’s article on homosexuality in the Russian imperial navy uses microhistories to explore gender, sexuality, and gender presentation in the late imperial period and draws convincing connections between high and popular culture, drawing on sources from witness testimonies in court cases, personal diaries, and specialized medical journals to military documents including personnel files. Filling a gap in the historical literature, Roldugina has crafted a fascinating story that contributes to military history, history of gender and sexuality, and social and religious history. Her well-written article is very teachable and will grace the syllabi of undergraduate courses on gender and sexuality in the period for some time to come.

2021 Awards

AWSS is pleased to announce the 2021 Heldt Award Winners

Heldt Prize for Best Book by a Woman in any area of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Winner: Francine Hirsch. Soviet Judgment at Nuremburg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal after World War II (Oxford University Press, 2020)

This deeply researched, clearly written, and engaging history of the Nuremburg trials offers a significant reappraisal of the Soviet role in this international court. Hirsch corrects traditional historiography’s tendency to focus almost exclusively on Allied involvement in these proceedings by examining the important contribution of the USSR in the construction of the Nuremburg court and its legacy. Hirsch makes a compelling case for her new interpretation of what the Soviets did achieve, and what they did not. Probing issues of international diplomacy at the conclusion of World War II, she sheds new light on the origins of the Cold War and the establishment of key concepts and protocols regarding the definition and prosecution of war crimes. This compelling study also offers a singularly rare instance of a woman scholar making an exceptional contribution to a field that is overwhelmingly male-dominated.

Honorable Mention
Maya Nadkarni, Remains of Socialism: Memory and the Futures of the Past in Postsocialist Hungary (Cornell University Press, 2020)

Multi-layered, intimate, and insightful on many levels, this remarkable and beautifully written book sets a new standard in the field of memory studies. Nadkarni’s nuanced and compelling theorizing on the concepts of nostalgia, material culture, and lived socialism draws on a long trajectory of research which includes interviews with Hungarians dating back to the early 1990s to explore complex fluctuations in their attitudes towards the recent past. Nadkarni very ably shows how Hungarians modified their historical views as they adjusted to postsocialism and to their country’s evolving political, economic, and cultural realities. By tracking the multiple ways in which the weight given to history is continually redistributed for political ends and according to personal motivations, her book clarifies a number of moments that at first seem paradoxical and contradictory. The result is a creative and readable exploration of how the socialist past has been perceived since 1989.

Heldt Prize for best book in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Women’s and Gender Studies
Winner: Allison Leigh, Picturing Russia’s Men: Masculinity and Modernity in 19th-Century Painting (Bloomsbury, 2020)

This revelatory book addresses the struggles of several key Russian painters to come to terms with notions of masculinity in the “short nineteenth century” that begins in 1825 with the militaristic reign and hyper-masculine ethos of Nicholas I and closes with the assassination of Alexander II in 1881. Leigh perceptively analyzes works of art, personal documents, even the history of institutions to illuminate questions relating to the construction of gender from multiple angles as each of her selected painters responds individually to the range of options that he felt he had. This astonishingly rich book is about much more than art. Its specific case studies (“microhistories”) investigate different facets of masculinity both as it evolves historically and in the lives and work of painters from the romantic and realist eras. These individual artists are presented in the artistic landscape of nineteenth-century Russia, in relation to the Army and to the Imperial Academy of Arts, and also  entangled in “hidden in plain sight” non-traditional relationships. Leigh addresses with great sensitivity fluctuations in public opinion and private moods that relate to questions of gender identity in Russian society, including the rejection or avoidance of traditional models, issues of “superfluity” and homosociality, and responses to the socio-political encroachments of women in the midst of an increasingly destabilized society. Leigh’s writing is exemplary, her research stellar, and her book delightful.

Heldt Prize Book Committee

Dr. Sara Dickinson, Chair

Dr. Katya Jordan

Dr. Melissa K. Stockdale

Dr. Jelena Subotić


AWSS Heldt prize for best translation in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Women’s and Gender Studies 2021 (biennial)
Winner: Halyna Hryn, Nina Murray, Askold Melnyczuk, Marco Carynnyk, and Marta Horban, translators. Your Ad Could Go Here by Oksana Zabuzhko, edited by Nina Murray (Amazon Crossing, 2020)

These lively and readable translations bring a sampling of over two decades of superb fiction by noted Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko to English language audiences. Written in many different registers and tones, these highly original and beautifully conceived stories are captured with precision and clarity by five different translators. The topics treated range from problems of history (the Euromaidan protests, nostalgia for a disappearing Europe) and identity, to ethnic and mythic violence, to envy, desire, guilt and love. As one of Zabuzhko’s narrators explains in a story on nostalgia for the loss of the European past: “Understanding, in fact, is my job, that’s what writers are for—to try to understand everyone and everything and put this understanding into words, finished to the gossamer fineness of a rose petal, words made supple and obedient, words cut to hold the reader’s mind like a well-made glove that fits like second skin.” Her message is well-served by such sensitive and talented translators.

Honorable Mention
Katherine E. Young, trans. Look at Him by Anna Starobinets (Three String Books, 2020)

This finely tuned translation makes available to readers of English a gripping memoir by Anna Starobinets that documents the arduous experience of non-viable pregnancy, its termination, and mourning in the radically different contexts of the Russian and German healthcare systems. Starobinets’s intelligent and demanding text explores painful themes of decision-making in the context of carrying an infant known to have fatal birth defects, made all the more excruciating by the inhumane treatment she receives from Russian medical professionals, and giving birth to that infant abroad. Her deeply personal perspective on the shortcomings of women’s healthcare in Russia courageously tracks the psychological complexities of evolving maternal and family sentiments during this difficult process. The second part of the book presents the testimony of doctors, psychologists, and grieving mothers in more journalistic fashion in order to both to acknowledge these issues and initiate open discussion of them. Young’s translation will allow English speakers to participate in this international conversation.

Heldt Translation Prize Committee

Dr. Sara Dickinson, Chair

Dr. Katya Jordan

Dr. Olga Peters Hasty


Best article in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Winner: Abby Holekamp, "Who are Vera and Tatiana?: The Female Russian Nihilist in the Fin de Siecle Imagination," Representations, 150, 1 (2020): 1-31.

In this imaginative and outstanding article, Holekamp examines the durable Russian archetype of the female nihilist and the cultural imaginary of terrorism in fin de siècle Europe. Interdisciplinary and transnational in focus, this article makes a significant contribution to the histories of terrorism, gender, and the proliferation of mass media in nineteenth and twentieth-century Europe. Seamlessly bringing together historical and literary analysis, Holekamp’s writing is lucid, precise, and compelling. In exploring the persistence, use, and impact of the imagined archetype of the Russian female nihilist, Holekamp’s conclusions reach beyond the fields of Russian history and literary studies to demonstrate the pertinence of the topic in the present day.

Honorable Mention
Chelsi West Ohueri, “On Living and Moving with Zor: Exploring Racism, Embodiment, and Health in Albania,” Medical Anthropology, 40, 3 (2021): 241-53.

West Ohueri’s impressive article examines the social and structural factors that continue to shape health inequities in Albania. Based on meticulous ethnographic research conducted with Romani and Egyptian women, West Ohueri explores how racialized and gendered marginalization intersect and are embodied by those living at the spatial and social margins of Tirana. We commend the author not only for her innovative research design and analytical framework, but for the accessibility of her writing and the important conclusions that she reaches.

Heldt Article Prize Committee

Dr. Siobhán Hearne, Chair

Dr. Barbara Allen

Dr. Katherine Bowers

Dr. Igor Fedyukin

 

 

2020 Awards

AWSS is pleased to announce the 2020 Heldt Award Winners

Heldt Prize for Best Book by a Woman in any area of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Winner: Jennifer Carroll, Narkomania: Drugs, HIV, and Citizenship in Ukraine (Cornell University Press, 2019)
Jennifer Carroll’s, Narkomania is an important contribution to the study of Ukrainian social and political development and a testament to the power of ethnographic research to illuminate multiple, interweaved meanings in a complicated social situation--drug addiction and its treatment in post-soviet Ukraine. Carroll’s book will become standard reading in qualitative and ethnographic methods classes.
Beginning her research in 2007 and continuing on and off over the next decade, Carroll crafted a research project which examined drug use in Ukraine, its medication-assisted treatment regime (MAT), clinics, clients, and practitioners, and how nongovernmental organizations, like the Global Fund, subverted local and governmental functions to pursue neoliberal agendas and set unrealistic expectations on the clinics and Ukraine’s Ministry of Health.

Yet, this is more than a story of addicts and their treatment. As domestic and international conflict escalated in Ukraine, Carroll adapted the study’s scope and premise to incorporate the events of the Euromaidan revolution, the illegal annexation of Crimea by Russia, and the Russian-backed separatist insurgency in Donbass to examine how Ukraine, during the 2010s, discursively excluded addicts’ presence and claim to citizenship. By linking addiction, national identity, and state building, Carroll demonstrates how “othering” addicts by the state and its citizenry developed into a shared belief, “addiction imaginary,” that the state needed to protect the nation from addicts. Especially illuminating is how Ukrainians deployed fear of addicts in the discourses around Euromaidan movement and the crises in Crimea and Donboss.
As Michele Rivkin-Fish, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill notes, “Exposing the moralized judgments dogging drug users, Narkomania details the brutal modes of exclusion being deployed to redefine Ukraine's body politic. Jennifer J. Carroll both explains the origins and uses of this 'addiction imaginary,' and counters it with a profoundly humanizing portrait of the lives and fates of Ukrainians who use drugs."
Narkomania’s intellectual scope and breadth and engagement with the field of medical anthropology, domestic and global health policy, ethnography, international relations, and contemporary national and regional politics is why the prize committee picked it for this year’s
Heldt prize for best book by a woman in any area of Slavic, East European, Eurasian Studies.

Honorable Mention (Alphabetical)
Jelena Subotić, Yellow Star, Red Star: Holocaust Remembrance after Communism (Cornell University Press, 2019)
Yellow Star, Red Star is a unique and invaluable study of Holocaust memory (and forgetting) in post-socialist Europe. Rather than following the well-trodden paths of memory studies to focus on Poland or Russia and their “problems with memory,” Subotić offers an in-depth analysis of Serbian, Croatian, and Lithuanian discourses and policies. Her study shows how joining the European framework of memorialization primarily serves the creation of new national identities rather than indicate a true reckoning with local participation in the genocide and a recognition of its victims. Even scholars who are deeply engaged in related discussions can benefit from her detailed analysis of particular events and long-term trends, which makes a strong case for recognizing the troubling entwinement of shaping Holocaust memory according to contemporary agendas on the one hand, and the criminalization of the communist and anti-fascist past on the other.

Lenny A. Ureña Valerio, Colonial Fantasies, Imperial Realities: Race Science and the Making of Polishness on the Fringes of the German Empire, 1840–1920 (Ohio University Press, 2019)
Colonial Fantasies, Imperial Realities: Race Science and the Making of Polishness on the Fringes of the German Empire, 1840–1920 is an extraordinary and innovative exploration of the transnational and colonial history of the Prussian East and its entanglement with German imperialism in East Africa. The book is transnational in its truest sense. By drawing on sources from Germany, Poland, Brazil and Argentina, Ureña Valeria delivers a multifaceted discussion of not only German imperialism and colonialism, but the colonized Poles’ own ambitions of colonial acquisition and colonization. This original account and the expertly developed theoretical framework that fuels the analysis mark a new stage in scholars of Eastern Europe’s engagement with postcolonial studies.

Heldt Prize for best book in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Women’s and Gender Studies
Winner: Olga Peters Hasty, How Women Must Write: Inventing the Russian Woman Poet (Northwestern University Press, 2019)
Olga Peters Hasty’s How Women Must Write: Inventing the Russian Woman Poet provides a behind the scenes look at Russia’s cultural history, focusing on the women who sought to challenge the status quo. The development of an imagined figure of a Russian female poet is presented within the social, political, and cultural contexts. Hasty examines the climate in which Russia’s women developed their own strategies as they faced both the constraints and the opportunities for poetic self-presentation in the 19th and 20th century. This engaging analysis offers a thoughtful critique of the traditional hierarchies, which affected Russia’s largely masculine literary culture, as it uncovers the cultural dynamics that are crucial for our understanding of the fact that women poets were no mere parodists but artists in their own right. This accessible volume addresses an essential topic of women poets’ engagement with the gender norms of their time, which lead them to a place where they could shape their own artistic identity.

Written by a literary scholar, this work presents its powerful arguments in a way that is accessible for a non-specialist. The transparency with which Hasty lays out the tools of literary analysis reinforces the profundity of her conclusions. Thus, the value of the work reaches beyond the field of Russian literary studies.


Best article in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Allison Leigh, ‘Il’ia Repin in Paris: Mediating French Modernism’, Slavic Review, 78, 2 (2019): 434-55.
This outstanding article provides a vital re-examination of the relationship between Russian artists and European artistic centres in the second half of the nineteenth century. Conceptually ambitious and beautifully written, Allison Leigh’s exploration of the production and reception of Il’ia Repin’s A Parisian Café (1875) makes a significant contribution to Russian and European art history, scholarship on the development of Russian nationality identity, and cultural histories of gender and sexuality. Leigh’s combination of sophisticated visual analysis and meticulous reading of Repin’s personal correspondence offers a highly original and compelling take on Russia’s unique confrontation with ‘modernity’.

Honorable Mention
Christine Varga-Harris, ‘Between National Tradition and Western Modernisation: Soviet Woman and Representations of Socialist Gender Equality as a “Third Way” for Developing Countries, 1956-1964’, Slavic Review, 78, 3 (2019): 758-781.
Through a careful reading of the magazine Soviet Woman, Christine Varga-Harris sheds light on a neglected part of the history of women’s activism and socialist internationalism. The article expertly traces the ‘motif of global sisterhood’ in depictions of, and publications penned by, Soviet women living in non-European republics. In doing so, Varga-Harris persuasively argues that the magazine presented Soviet socialism as a ‘third way’ between traditional patriarchal modes and western conceptions of gender equality, as well as an alternative method for transitioning away from colonisation while retaining diverse national cultures.

 


Heldt Prize Committee
Melissa Bokovoy, Chair (University of New Mexico)
Diane Nemec Ignashev (Carleton College)
Jenny Kaminer (University of California-Davis)
Maria Popova (McGill University)
Anika Walke (Washington University in St. Louis)

2019 Awards

AWSS is pleased to announce the 2019 Heldt Prize winners:

Best book by a woman in any area of Slavic/East European/Eurasian Studies
Winner: Hannah Pollin-Galay, Ecologies of Witnessing: Language, Place, and Holocaust Testimony (Yale University Press, 2018)

Hannah Pollin-Galay’s Ecologies of Witnessing is a boldly original and paradigm-shifting book that will be influential for scholarship in a number of fields, well beyond Slavic/E. European/Eurasian studies: Holocaust studies, memory & trauma studies, Jewish studies, and history of the Second World War. Focusing her study on the personal narratives of Lithuanian Jews who survived the Holocaust, Pollin-Galay compares the testimonies of survivors who returned or remained in Lithuania after the war to the remembrances of those who settled in Israel and the United States.

Pollin-Galay has both conducted and curated a broad array of testimonies. Her analysis is firmly grounded in the most impactful and recent approaches to the construction of memory: the role of the collective, linguistic analyses, the interpersonal dynamics between interviewee and interviewer, and, most notably, an interest in the impact of spatial relationships. Through the concept of “ecology,” she explains the intersection of these factors and how scholars must be attentive to the place where Holocaust survivors, who experienced the Holocaust in the same spot, are remembering the trauma, displacement, and violence of the Holocaust. The committee also acknowledges the author’s implicit, yet forceful reminder that Yiddish is, indeed, a (spoken) language relevant to understanding the diversity of human experience in East Europe and Eurasia.

Ecologies of Witnessing: Language, Place, and Holocaust Testimony is prodigiously and deeply researched and elegantly structured and written. The advantage of this book is that it opens potential avenues of research in other disciplines, which may start from the author’s findings and then have current implications for how memories about the Holocaust are constructed in the Baltics, Israel, and the United States.

Pollin-Galay accomplishes what the best scholarship should strive toward: The communication of profoundly complex ideas in a lucid and accessible manner.

Honorable Mention

Edyta Bojanowska, A World of Empires: The Russian Voyage of the Frigate Pallada. (Harvard University Press, 2018)
Edyta Bojanowska, A World of Empires: The Russian Voyage of the Frigate Pallada is a wonderful narrative of the nineteenth-century voyage of a Russian frigate based on Ivan Goncharov’s travelogue, The Frigate Pallada. At present, there is not yet an English translation of this 800-page travelogue.

In A World of Empires, Bojanowska has made accessible to students and scholars of European imperialism a travelogue that nineteenth-century Russians read and believed represented their imperial ambitions and attitudes about their imperial competitors, the British and French. Interweaving literary analysis, knowledge of the historiography and literary analysis of travel, and Russia’s engagement with and views of the world of empires, Bojanowska provides a window into Russia’s ambitions and reveals the cultural context of Russian administration and rule in its acquired and conquered territory. Her exploration of Goncharov’s trip through Siberia and views on Russian settlement and expansion into the region after the sea voyage provides insight into Russian thinking about how to control and rule this territory.

Bojanowska’ has written a book that addresses a significant lacuna in the scholarship of 19th century imperialism and will have broad appeal beyond the fields of Slavic and Eurasian Studies. In the Russian context of the study of Russian imperialism, it is a huge step forward toward understanding the Russian empire and moves the discussion about Russian imperialist ambitions beyond that of simply denial that Russia was similar to its 19th century imperial competitors.

Honorable Mention

Sarah Cameron, The Hungry Steppe: Famine, Violence, and the Making of Soviet Kazakhstan, (Cornell University Press, November 2018)
Sarah Cameron’s The Hungry Steppe is an elegantly written and prodigiously researched book, bringing to light knowledge of the devastating historical cataclysm that deserves much more attention than it has received-the hunger and violence inflicted upon the nomadic populations of Soviet Kazakhstan during Soviet collectivization and forced settlement drives of the early 1930s.

Especially noteworthy is the author’s pioneering use of both Russian and Kazakh language sources to tell this story. The author’s conclusions add critical dimension not only to our understanding of the history of Soviet Kazakhstan but also to that of Stalinism, of the Soviet Union’s devastating projects of modernization and their far-reaching consequences, as well as to how we contextualize other man-made famines of the USSR. Cameron’s conclusions can be applicable to the situations of other peoples in the steppe as well as the more well-known and well-documented famine in Ukraine.

Cameron’s book is written with compassion for the victims—both immediate and by legacy—of the atrocities Cameron describes. Her book lays the groundwork for more research, unearthing of survivor testimonies, and discussion of the violent, foundational event of the modern Kazakh state.


Best book in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian Women's and Gender Studies
Winner: Kateřina Lišková, Sexual Liberation, Socialist Style: Communist Czechoslovakia and the Science of Desire, 1945-1989 (Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Lišková’s book makes an innovative and important contribution to the study of sexuality—and by extension: gender relations—in Eastern Europe. Her study shatters the rather common notion of pre-1989 Eastern Europe as a rather prudish region in which intimacy and sexuality were confined to the bedrooms of obedient citizens

Through a clear narrative, she explains the continuity between the early communist state and interwar Czechoslovaka where ideas of sexual freedom were first posited and articulated by Czech sexologists and sexology. After the war and during the communist period, she reveals that interwar sexology and sexologists advised and informed the regime about how to think about sexual liberation. Lišková reveals and details that sexologists had much to say to the state and its citizens about sexuality and sexual relationships. Many citizens of the Czechoslovak state eagerly tried to follow advice given in public media or in counseling sessions. Fascinating is how Lišková details that the communist state sanctioned such discourse.

What is particularly striking is how she interweaves the ideology of the normalization period, which turned Czechs and Slovaks toward the private, and how the more family-centered discourse moved the state to regulated sexuality. She points out that this the opposite of what was going on in the “west:” a move toward greater sexual liberalization and freedom.

Lišková’s analysis of the interaction between state authorities and agencies on the one hand, and individuals on the other is powerful because it is so detailed and deeply grounded in sources. Her use of family court records supports a persuasive argument about how communist societies strove to simultaneously liberate and regulate sexuality. Overall, the book will be of use for many scholars in the subject area, will serve teachers of Eastern European studies, and allow scholars to think more broadly about the intimate and everyday lives of citizens in Czechoslovakia and the Eastern bloc.


Best Translation
Winner: Natalie Kononenko, Ukrainian Epic and Historical Song: Folklore in Context (University of Toronto Press, 2018).

In Ukrainian Epic and Historical Song: Folklore in Context Natalie Kononenko has combined her considerable skills as translator and extensive experience and depth of knowledge as researcher to provide English-language readers access to traditional Ukrainian dumy, epics songs based on historical events traditionally sung by kobzary (bards). As Kononenko notes in her Introduction, for many Ukrainians today dumy have come to symbolize “the source from which a true Ukrainian identity could be derived.” Increasingly dumy are being performed. And yet for many in the Diaspora who lack the knowledge of Ukrainian the dumy demand, these documents of history have remained only “talsimans.” This volume not only restores dumy for readers of Ukrainian heritage, it will prove invaluable for folklorists in general insofar as it provides access to a corpus whose ties to other traditions have been understudied owing to a lack of translations and background.

Kononenko initiated the project as a translation, and the committee has chosen to recognize it primarily as such. Gradually issues of selection and translation, the phenomena described in the dumy demanded more extensive commentary than a traditional translation might involve. Instead of the more usual route of translations and copious footnotes, Kononenko made the creative choice to set the translations within the commentaries to provide a highly readable narrative. Readers with knowledge of both Ukrainian and English will find Kononenko’s English-language renderings remarkably accurate semantically as well as “musically.”

Kononenko’s achievement with Ukrainian Epic and Historical Song: Folklore in Context reflects a growing and laudable trend of translators empowering themselves to initiate projects and to maintain greater control of the process and end product. As such, in addition to its scholarly significance, this volume stands as a model for future endeavors.


Best article in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies
Winner: Siobhan Hearne, "To Denounce or Defend: Public Participation in the Policing of Prostitution in Late Imperial Russia,” Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 19(4): 717-744

This is a thoroughly researched article that makes a compelling argument to turn to the “elusive voices of women registered as prostitutes, their clients, and urban dwellers” for a comprehensive understanding of public views of prostitution. Drawing on a range of sources and firmly grounded in recent scholarship in labor history, feminist and gender studies and, of course, Russian history, Hearne elucidates how state institutions and individuals worked together in policing female behavior. The careful reading of various actors’ statements reveals insights into urban residents’ views of state institutions and thus contributes to analyses of social and political dynamics beyond the Russian Empire.

Honorable Mention

Colleen Lucey, “Fallen but Charming Creatures: The Demimondaine in Russian Literature and Visual Culture of the 1860s,” The Russian Review 78(1):103-121

Through a meticulous reading of Vsevolod Krestovskii’s short story, “A Fallen but Charming Creature,” and an innovative exploration of an unknown album of lithographs for which Krestovskii wrote the captions, Lucey uncovers nineteenth-century public attitudes and imaginings about a new class of St. Petersburg women, the demimondaine. Lucey juxtaposes Krestovskii’s short story which depicts these women as “fallen” with a visual culture glorifying demimondaine as women who have sexual and financial agency. The article demonstrates the necessity of reading culture not only through literary sources but also to take seriously the role of visual culture in shaping the public’s attitudes and imagination. The article makes extensive use of the lithographs making this article accessible to scholars and students alike.


Heldt Prize Committee

Melissa Bokovoy, Chair (University of New Mexico)

Diane Nemec Ignashev (Carleton College)

Jenny Kaminer (University of California-Davis)

Maria Popova (McGill University)

Anika Walke (Washington University in St. Louis)

2018 Awards

AWSS is pleased to announce the 2018 Heldt Prize winners:

Best book by a woman in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Edyta Materka, Dystopia's Provocateurs: Peasants, State, and Informality in the Polish-German Borderlands. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017.

Dystopia’s Provocateurs is a stunning achievement of interdisciplinary and scholarly imagination. Set in the area known to Poles as the “Recovered Territories,” this study uses oral histories, archival documents, and literary sources to reconstruct the uneven, incomplete, and ad hoc process of transforming the countryside from German into Polish territory. Materka offers a compelling argument for peasants’ skillful and flexible use of strategies to navigate upheaval in ingenious ways that served their needs materially and psychologically. Materka offers a model of methodological innovation coupled with uncommon empathy.


Best article in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies

Arthur Clech, “Between the Labor Camp and the Clinic: Tema or the Shared Forms of Late Soviet Subjectivity,” Slavic Review 77, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 6-29.

Arthur Clech breaks new ground in the emerging field of Slavic, East European and Eurasian queer studies. Drawing on interviews with 36 men and women, a rereading of published primary sources, and careful engagement with the secondary literature, Clech undermines a scholarly consensus that, he persuasively argues, oversimplifies and overstates the gulf in experiences between same-sex attracted women and men. Though gay men were sentenced to prison and women were vulnerable to institutionalization in psychiatric facilities, Clech makes the case that a shared homosexual subjectivity existed that transcended the state’s divergent strategies of repression. With clear prose and persuasive, measured argumentation, Clech reconceptualizes our understanding of same-sex attraction and identity in the late Soviet period, opening new pathways for investigation in the process.

Honorable Mention

Igor Fedyukin, “Sex in the City that Peter Built: The Demimonde and Sociability in mid-Eighteenth Century Saint Petersburg,” Slavic Review 76, no. 4 (Winter 2017): 907-930.

Through a meticulous reading of an uncommonly rich cache of documents, Igor Fedyukin sheds light on the interlocking histories of sexuality, policing, and sociability. The paper trail of state efforts to curtail “indecency” yields a rich picture of for-profit, mixed sex “parties” that catered to elite appetites for socializing and for sex. Fedyukin sees in these social circles precursors to the kind of autonomous associational life that would later cause the autocracy anxiety, demonstrating how the history of sexuality speaks directly to the most central questions of political history.


Best book in Slavic, East European and Eurasian Women's/Gender Studies

The committee declined to make an award in this category this year.


Heldt Prize Committee

Paula Michaels, Chair (Monash University)

Rebecca Gould (University of Birmingham)

Eileen Kane (Connecticut College)

Diane Nemec Ignashev (Carleton College & Lomonosov Moscow State University)

Jennifer Suchland (Ohio State University)

2017 Awards

Best book by a woman in any area of Slavic/East European/Eurasian Studies

Gould, Rebecca. Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2016.

Rebecca Gould's meticulous study of Chechen, Dagestani, Georgian, and Russophone literature of Caucasian anticolonial insurgency is a linguistic tour-de-force in service of a nuanced analysis. Writers and Rebels explores the sacralization of rebellion and the anesthetization of violence in the prose, poetry, and oral narratives of the Caucasus region. She delves into a deep archive of local literary works and carefully unpacks differences among these geographically proximate, but profoundly diverse cultures. Gould's work offers a fresh approach that transcends literary studies, historical ethnography, and religious studies. It stands, too, as a model for the study of the borderlands, attentive to both the sub-regional specificities and liminal space the Caucasus occupied at the interface of the Russian and Ottoman empires.

Honorable Mention:

Nancy Shields Kollmann, The Russian Empire, 1450-1801. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Nancy Shields Kollman demonstrates the abilities of an historian at the peak of her skills. Based on years of specialised research and an absolute mastery of the field, she offers a fresh synthesis of early imperial Russia that will compel scholars and students to rethink our most fundamental assumptions. She has produced the authoritative work in the field, a masterpiece that will serve as a key reference on early modern Russia for years to come.

Honorable Mention:

Rosalind P. Blakesley, The Russian Canvas: Painting in Imperial Russia, 1757-1881. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016.

Rosalind Blakesley's comprehensive study sets a new standard in Russian art history and fills an enormous gap in the scholarly literature. She teases out Russia's unique path to a professionalized corps of painters, while simultaneously embedding the Russian school in the broader history of European painting. Blakesley seamlessly weaves rigorous, exhaustive archival research with an encyclopedic command of the secondary literature to provide fresh insights into Russian painting and its links to broader social, political, and cultural changes in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.


Best book in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian Women's and Gender Studies

Jusová, Iveta & Jirina Šiklová, Czech Feminisms: Perspectives on Gender in East Central Europe. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016.

Jusová and Šiklová have done a tremendous service to the field of Women's and Gender Studies through the publication of this edited volume. It allows leading Czech feminist scholars to speak in their own voice to an English-language audience. Covering history, sociology, ethnography, and politics, this collection gives readers a sense of the broad range of concerns that animate Czech women's and gender studies. To students of feminism in Eastern and Central Europe and beyond, Feminisms offers a window onto the common ground and unique perspectives of our Czech sisters.


Best translation in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian women's and gender studies

Nemec Ignashev, Diane, trans. The Kukotsky Enigma by Ludmila Ulitskaya. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 2016.

Diane Nemec Ignashev's elegant and readable translation of The Kukotsky Enigma makes an important work by one of contemporary Russia's leading writers available for the first time to an English-speaking audience. As with all excellent works of translation, Nemec Ignashev renders the Russian into a natural English that allows the reader an immersive experience of the book. The novel centers on a male gynecologist who takes up the fight for abortion access in Stalin's USSR, a struggle that threatens to tear his family apart. The Kukotsky Enigma ruminates on the ethical questions that swirl around women's reproductive capacities. The themes at the heart of the work will engage a broad readership, which can now access the work thanks to Nemec Ignashev's able translation.


Best article in Slavic/Eastern European/Eurasian women's and gender studies

Zenovich, Jennifer A. "Willing the Property of Gender: A Feminist Autoethnography of Inheritance in Montenegro" Women's Studies in Communication 39, no. 1 (2016): 28-46. DOI: 10.1080/07491409.2015.1113217.

In her imaginative and compelling article, Jennifer Zenovich explores the linkage between property ownership, inheritance, and gender in contemporary Montenegro. Using the method of autoethnography, the article unspools the author's experience of this issue vis-à-vis her own father and brother. Zenovich puts her own story in dialogue with conversations with and observations of Montenegrin women she encounters through family ties and field work. A sophisticated feminist theoretical framing informs her analysis, which offers a fresh perspective on understudied questions at the intersection of gender and economics.


Heldt Prize Committee:

Paula A. Michaels, chair and AWSS President-Elect (Monash University)

Melissa Bokovoy (University of New Mexico)

Jenny Kaminer (University of California-Davis)

Eileen Kane (Connecticut College)

Jennifer Suchland (Ohio State University)