Past Cohen-Tucker Dissertation Fellows
2016 Cohen-Tucker Dissertation Research Fellowship Recipients
Susan Grunewald, Carnegie Mellon University, " German Prisoners of the War in the Soviet Gulag: Life, Law, Memory, 1941-1956"
Erin Hutchinson, Harvard University, "The Village Strikes Back: The Cultural Politics of the Nation in the Soviet Union after Stalin"
Dakota Irvin, UNC Chapel Hill, "Revolving Doors of Power: How Revolutionary Ekaterinburg Became Sverdlovsk, 1917-1924"
Kelsey Norris, University of Pennsylvania, "Displaced Persons and the Politics of Family Reunification in the Postwar Soviet Union"
John Romero, Arizona State University, ""Socialist in Form, National in Context": Soviet High Culture and National Identity in the Tatar Autonomous Republic, 1953-1994"
John Seitz, Iowa State University, "Colonizing the Countryside: Scientific Agriculture and Colonial Control on the Kazakh Steppe, 1881-1928"
"German Prisoners of War in the Soviet Gulag: Life, Law, Memory, 1941-1956"
My dissertation will examine the role of German prisoners of war in the U.S.S.R. from 1941 to 1956. The Soviet government kept roughly 1.5 million German POWs in the Gulag system after the end of the war, the largest and longest held group of prisoners kept by any of the victor nations. The dissertation investigates the motives of the Soviet government in delaying repatriation. It explores the political, diplomatic, and economic motivations of the Soviet state, investigating the economic role the prisoners served in reconstruction, the diplomatic and legal tensions raised by repatriation, and the material conditions in the Gulag camps and labor sites. The dissertation also analyzes the varied meanings that prisoners attached to their experience. By comparing the memoirs written by those repatriated to East Germany with those repatriated to West Germany, it seeks to understand how narratives of the war and its meanings were constructed and framed in these two very different political settings during the Cold War. The dissertation uses both German and Russian published primary and archival sources to explore larger issues regarding Soviet prison labor, postwar diplomacy and international law, and the shaping of narrative among prisoners repatriated to the east and west.
"The Village Strikes Back: The Cultural Politics of the Nation in the Soviet Union after Stalin"
My dissertation focuses on the leading role that Soviet intellectuals played in the articulation of the nation during the period between Stalin’s death and the advent of perestroika. I explore how the Stalinist onslaught on the rural way of life, in combination with massive postwar urbanization, led to the formation of a new cohort of rural-born intellectuals in the Soviet republics in the 1950s and 1960s. My research explores how rural-born writers from across the Soviet Union—including Russian Village Prose writers— made common cause with members of the political establishment and the urban intelligentsia to promote their own particular national vision. In the decades leading up to perestroika, they sought to redefine the traditional village as the moral nexus of the nation, the church as a constitutive element of national character, and the national landscape as a spiritual resource. While remaining fully integrated into mainstream cultural life, these loyal intellectuals nevertheless developed a strand of thought that presented a powerful challenge to the Soviet moral order. My scholarship, which focuses on the RSFSR, Moldova, Ukraine, and Armenia, is the first to analyze Russian Village Prose writers as part of a broader, pan-Soviet phenomenon.
"Revolving Doors of Power: How Revolutionary Ekaterinburg Became Sverdlovsk, 1917-1924"
My dissertation traces the transformation of Ekaterinburg into Sverdlovsk by providing a political, social, and urban history of the city during the years of the Russian Revolution and Civil War. I focus on local institutions, such as the city government, the police, and the press, and their responses to the disorder of revolution as a way to examine the contested creation of new forms of political and social order. Ekaterinburg presents the ideal case to investigate this dynamic, as it changed hands five times after the February Revolution in 1917. My work also introduces new theoretical categories like “order” and “disorder” to the study of the Russian Revolution, and focuses on the development of practices and procedures by competing regimes at the local level to create and maintain stability. I also address the use of local histories and public sites of memory by the Bolsheviks to create stylized remembrances of the revolutionary period after the end of the Civil War in 1920, and show how this process became central to Ekaterinburg’s transformation into Sverdlovsk. Finally, given Ekaterinburg’s unique experience, mine will be the first work to treat the Imperial, Provisional Government, Bolshevik, and White regimes comprehensively.
"Displaced Persons and the Politics of Family Reunification in the Postwar Soviet Union"
Recent scholarship has focused on displaced persons in Western and Central Europe and revealed that European states endeavored to repatriate DPs and reunite them with their family members out of a conviction that rebuilding war-torn families would help reconstruct war-devastated nations. Does this conception of postwar family reunification hold when we broaden the geographical scope to consider the experiences of the over five million externally displaced Soviet citizens and the approximately 16.5 million Soviet citizens and thousands of Polish citizens displaced within the USSR? Did the Soviet regime also engage in this postwar European project to bolster the family in order to rebuild the nation? Or did the early Bolshevik vision that the state would ultimately supplant the family influence the regime’s response to displacement and family separation? Based on preliminary archival research in Moscow, I hypothesize that the Soviet regime’s management of family reunification was shaped by its prewar history of population control. I argue that Soviet officials were most responsive to appeals from families separated across the new postwar borders in order to facilitate the repatriation of Soviet citizens but did not devote sufficient resources to reunite Soviet families separated internally within the USSR.
""Socialist in Form, National in Context": Soviet High Culture and National Identity in the Tatar Autonomous Republic, 1953-1994"
My project examines the evolution of Soviet nationalities policy in the years after Stalin’s death through the collapse of the Soviet Union. Focusing on the Tatar Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR), the project explores the roles of cultural institutions, notably operas, theaters, and philharmonics, as well as corresponding state bureaucracies and organizations, such as the Tatar branch of the Union of Composers, in delineating and maintaining Tatar national identity. I argue that the linkage between Tatar national culture and Soviet cultural institutions represents a reversal of Lenin’s proclaimed nationalities policy of “national in form, socialist in content,” and that, by the 1950s and beyond, Tatar bureaucrats and artists consciously used Soviet socialist forms to present national content. Moreover, I argue that the continuation of Soviet nation-building policies in the decades after Stalin’s death, a period almost completely overlooked by existing scholarship focusing on the 1920s and 1930s, was instrumental in the Soviet Union’s eventual collapse along national lines and in the origins of nationalist discourses among Tatars and other minority groups that still reside within the boundaries of the Russian Federation.
"Colonizing the Countryside: Scientific Agriculture and Colonial Control on the Kazakh Steppe, 1881-1928"