Mary Zirin Prize

The Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS) is pleased to announce the call for nominations for the Mary Zirin Prize in recognition of an independent scholar in the field of Slavic Studies. The award of $500 is named for Mary Zirin, the founder of Women East-West.

Working as an independent scholar, Zirin produced and encouraged fundamental works in Slavic/East European Women’s Studies and has been instrumental in the development of the AWSS. The Prize aims to recognize the achievements of independent scholars and to encourage their continued scholarship and service in the fields of Slavic or Central and Eastern European Women’s Studies.

The Zirin Prize is open to scholars of any gender in Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies. We particularly encourage applications from those whose scholarship or service focuses on women’s or gender studies.

The Committee encourages the nomination of candidates from all career stages. For the purpose of this award, an independent scholar is defined as a scholar who is not employed at an institution of higher learning, or who is employed at a university or college but is not eligible to compete for institutional support for research (for example, those teaching under short-term contracts or working in administrative posts). We welcome nominations from Central and Eastern Europe and from Eurasia.

Nominations must include: (1) a nomination letter, no more than two pages long, double-spaced; (2) the nominee’s updated curriculum vitae; (3) a sample publication (e.g., article or book chapter). The nomination letter should describe the scholar’s contribution to the field, as well as work in progress.

Deadline: Nominations (including self-nominations) will be accepted until September 1, 2024.


2023 Award

The Mary Zirin Prize Committee confers its 2023 award on Dr. Darya Tsymbalyuk, finding her to be a young scholar of extreme promise. While her work lies at the intersection of environmental humanities and the arts, she also engages with feminist and decolonial methodologies. Dr. Tsymbalyuk completed her PhD in 2022 at the University of St. Andrews, successfully defending a fascinating, innovative, and creatively crafted dissertation entitled “Multispecies Ruptures: Stories of Displacement and Human-Plant Relations from Donbas, Ukraine.” In it she made use of multiple genres and media, including scholarly accounts of literary/political context, interviews, drawings, and the screenplay of an animated film. For her exceptional endeavor and academic achievement at the University of St Andrews she was awarded the Principal’s medal.

Since graduation, Dr. Tsymbalyuk has garnered a series of prestigious academic fellowships from the University of London, the University of Oxford, and the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. Her major publication to date is her co-edited Limits of Collaboration:  Art, Ethics, and Donbas (2022). She has presented her own artwork as well as curated exhibitions and workshops on topics related to the environmental humanities, the arts, and the war in Ukraine. Dr. Tsymbalyuk has also won funding for an impressive variety of projects, including the above-mentioned animated film “Displaced Garden.” Her present book manuscript focuses on the environmental impact of Russia’s war on Ukraine and will be published by Polity in 2025.

Dr. Tsymbalyuk has authored several peer-reviewed publications in the fields of environmental humanities and the arts, with many more forthcoming this year and next, as well as penned thought-provoking pieces for a broader audience related to the war in Ukraine. The committee was  particularly impressed by the elegance of her prose, and by her careful, thoughtful autoethnography, rigorously grounded in the scholarly literature yet at the same time a poignant narrative of a scholar’s introspection and vulnerability in times of war.  She is in demand as a speaker, including as part of the Presidential Plenary Session “Decolonization in Practice” at the 2023 ASEEES convention in Philadelphia. The Committee enthusiastically awards the Mary Zirin Prize to Darya Tsymbalyuk, expecting to see much more in the future from this exciting, engaged, and eloquent scholar.

2023 Zirin Prize Committee: Dr. Patrice M. Dabrowski (Chair), Dr. Vanja Petricevic, Dr. Andrea Orzoff.

2022 Award

 The Mary Zirin Prize committee awards its 2022 Prize to Dr. Sonja Simonyi. Dr. Simonyi is being recognized for the breadth and the excellence of her research on under-researched topics within Eastern European cultural studies. Dr. Simonyi is a committed and original scholar with deep expertise in the history of Hungarian and Eastern European cinema who has consistently produced excellent writing and film programming.

Dr. Simonyi was awarded a PhD from NYU in 2015 for her dissertation “Framing the Wild East: Celluloid Frontiers in Socialist Eastern European Cinema.” She has since published multiple refereed journal articles and book chapters on the Hungarian experimental film scene. They include writing on the renowned filmmaker Gabor Body, whose work she analyzed through the prism of his relationship with Hungary's state security organs, as well as the non-professional filmmakers who worked at Balasz Bela Studio in Budapest. Most recently, she co-edited the book Postwar Experimental Cinemas in Eastern Europe (Amsterdam University Press, 2022; with Ksenya Gurshtein). Dr. Simonyi has also been working as a curator of exhibitions and film programs bringing her research subject to broader audiences in both the United States and Europe.We commend Dr. Simonyi’s high standards of excellence, her dedication to furthering scholarship on Eastern European film and culture despite the challenges of working as an independent scholar as well as her generosity with time and ideas as an editor of other people's work. Our decision was unanimous.

2021 Award

The Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS) is pleased to announce that the 2021 winner of the Mary Zirin Prize is Dr. Patrice Dabrowski.

The award of is named for Mary Zirin, the founder of Women East-West. Working as an independent scholar, Zirin produced and encouraged fundamental works in Slavic/East European Women’s Studies and has been instrumental in the development of the AWSS. The Prize recognizes the achievements of independent scholars and to encourage their continued scholarship and service in the fields of Slavic or Central and Eastern European Women’s Studies.

Dr. Dabrowski’s scholarly accomplishments exemplify the excellence and field-defining scholarship that the Zirin prize was designed to highlight.  With degrees from Harvard University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Dabrowski has an impressive record of publication since receiving her PhD in the 1999. Dabrowski is the author of three books: Poland: The First Thousand Years and Commemorations and the Shaping of Modern Poland. Her third book, The Carpathians:  Discovering the Highlands of Poland and Ukraine was just published by Cornell University Press last year.  As demonstrated by her publications, her scholarly interests include nation-building, popular memory and commemorations, the history of tourism in the Carpathians, Austrian Galicia, the Hutsuls, and Polish-Ukrainian relations, broadly understood.

Her scholarship on Poland and its borderlands has been recognized by national and international institutions and associations. Numbering over a dozen, these awards like the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland recognize her scholarship and Fulbright and IREX research awards and residential fellowships acknowledge her intellectual creativity, research prowess, and writing.  A year has not gone by without an article published, book chapter completed, or monograph released.   Patrice Dabrowski has established herself as one of the foremost authorities on Poland, all without the benefit of an institutional or academic home.

The Zirin prize committee unanimously awards the Zirin Prize to Dr. Dabrowski in acknowledgement of her scholarship and contributions to the field of Polish history, nationalism, and memory studies.

2020 Award

Magdalena Moskalewicz
An art historian, Magdalena Moskalewicz examines the unique character of socialist artistic modernity, as was developed in the immediate postwar decades in the former Soviet bloc and the former Yugoslavia, with a special focus on Poland. Her PhD research examined experiments with painting in Poland in the aftermath of the post-Stalinist Thaw. She has published on experimental practices generated outside of the official art system: abstract painting, op- and kinetic art, conceptualism, and politically motivated neo-avantgardes, including their connections to the international network of Fluxus as well as on the international circulation of Polish modern art during the Cold War. More recently, she has turned her attention to state-sponsored art, such as socialist realism. She has served as an A.W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and since 2016 she has been teaching as a lecturer/adjunct on short-term contracts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Currently she is working on a book titled: Non-Painting: Studies in Socialist Modernism in Poland, 1955-1970. She also contributed a chapter to The Oxford Handbook of Communist Visual Cultures (2020).

Dr. Moskalewicz also curates projects focused on the contemporary moment, examining the postcommunist condition with postcoloniality. Her most acclaimed exhibition to date was the Polish Pavilion at the 56th Venetian Biennale, in 2015, with Halka/Haiti 18°48’05′′N 72°23’01′′W. The project involved staging the Polish National opera Halka (1858) in Cazale, a Haitian village in habited by descendants of Polish soldiers who had fought for Haitian independence in 1803. Halka/Haiti probed the relevance of 19th-century artistic forms for the representation of national identities in a complex postcolonial context. She explored those issues in the accompanying book, which won the 2017 Jean Goldman Book Prize. Another exhibition and book project, The Travellers: Voyage and Migration in New Art from Central and Eastern Europe (Warsaw, 2016; Tallinn, 2017) problematized migration, displacement, and accelerated global mobility in relation to identity formation through works by contemporary artist-migrants.

The Zirin judges think that the wide range of Dr. Moskalewicz’s interests, the depth of her research, her innovative approach to her subjects, her commitment to sustained independent scholarship, and—in the shows she curates and in her writing—her attention to women artists, all abundantly qualify her to receive the Mary Zirin Prize.

2019 Award

Dr. Yelena Kalinsky
Dr. Kalinsky is a scholar, translator, curator, arts writer, and digital humanities expert who has, while working outside traditional academic fora, made significant contributions to the study of socialist-era Russian and Eastern European art, particularly the work of the Russian Collective Actions group. Collective Actions was a singular phenomenon within the larger constellation of Moscow Conceptualism, and in contemporary art globally, and Dr. Kalinsky has been tireless in her efforts to study, illuminate, and popularize knowledge of this artistic collective—active for over forty years. To do so, she has been active in the fields of both Slavic Studies and Art History, all while also being employed full time in an alternative academic career path. Particularly notable about Dr. Kalinsky’s scholarship is her work with primary documents, which she uses extensively in her own analytic writing and which she has also made available as a translator to other English-language scholars who would not, otherwise, have access to this material. Her forthcoming book, Andrei Monastyrski: Elementary Poetry, is evidence of this, as is Dr. Kalinsky’s 2012 Collective Actions: Audience Recollections from the First Five Years, 1976–1981, for which she was editor, translator, and author of introductory essay. The latter is a highly unusual book for the field of performance studies which with its very existence draws on the philosophy of the Collective Actions group, offers helpful context and analysis, and allows other scholars the opportunity to engage with the material, offer new interpretations, and write the history of Soviet performance and conceptual art into the larger, global histories of these media. In addition, Dr. Kalinsky has offered service to the field through her involvement as an officer and board member of the Society of Historians of Russian, Eastern European and Eurasian Art (SHERA), a group that has been helpful in creating a sense of community for a subfield that otherwise struggles to find its place in American academia, mainly because so many of its members do not have permanent academic institutional homes.


2018 Award

Iva Glisic

The Association for Women in Slavic Studies is pleased to announce Iva Glisic as the 2018 recipient of the Mary Zirin Prize for independent scholarship.

Dr. Iva Glisic is a historian of Russia and the Balkans who examines the history of radical ideas, and the relationship between avant-garde art, politics and ideology in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Her work also contributes to the fields of oral history, memory politics and archival theory.

Since obtaining her PhD in Russian History from the University of Western Australia, she has served as a Postdoctoral Fellow within the Institute for Eastern European History and Area Studies at the University of Tübingen, and a Lecturer and Research Associate at UWA and Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia. Alongside her continuing research, Dr. Glisic serves as a researcher for the Australian Academy of the Humanities in Canberra, contributing to a project on the future of Australia’s humanities workforce.

With her first book, The Futurist Files: Avant-Garde, Politics, and Ideology in Russia, 1905-1930 (2018), Dr. Glisic breaks new ground in the fields of history and art history by investigating the transfer of Italian Futurism to Russia, and the evolution of Futurist ideas within the Russian context. Her recent examination of how contemporary Russian artists have (re)used radical creative practices to challenge and disrupt the official political and ideological discourse has attracted widespread interest, and established Dr. Glisic as a leading Australian authority on Russian contemporary activist art. She worked with members of Pussy Riot during the 2017 Dark MOFO festival in Hobart, Tasmania, and moderated their public discussion at the festival.

The Zirin Committee takes particular note of Dr. Glisic’s invitation to serve as co-convener of the Australian Women’s History Network (AWHN). By working to promote and support the work of female historians in the critical early stage of their careers, she aims to reverse the recent trend of a diminution in the number of women remaining in academia and reaching senior positions in Australia.

Please join us in congratulating Iva Glisic, an outstanding independent scholar and this year’s recipient of the Mary Zirin Prize.