Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies

2016 Citation Recipient

Douglas Rogers

The Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies, established in 2008 and sponsored by the Kathryn W. and Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph published on Russia, Eurasia, or Eastern Europe in anthropology, political science, sociology, or geography in the previous calendar year.

Winner: Douglas Rogers
Title: The Depths of Russia: Oil, Power, and Culture after Socialism (Cornell University Press)

The Depths of Russia: Oil, Power, and Culture after Socialism is a book that resists easy categorization. It is many studies in one: an organizational analysis of the transformations in the Russian oil complex from socialist to post-socialist times, a study in the cultural significance of oil, an exploration of the cultural politics of the Perm region, and a case study of the center-region relations in Russia today. The book is unique in that it approaches its central subject – the Russian oil complex – not only through a political and economic, but also a cultural and a social lens. In doing so, the author uncovers many striking connections between the organization of the oil extraction industry, state-corporate relations within this industry, and the place of oil in the region’s cultural imagination. The economic centrality of oil, and the uneven economic development associated with the oil industry, the book argues, informed the fervent cultural production of festivals and indeed the notion of “cultural depth” that they deployed in ways both comparable to, but also distinct from, the oil-state-culture nexus described in studies of “petro states” elsewhere. The book balances masterfully between its attention to inherent legacies of Soviet approaches to oil and culture on the one hand, and contemporary political and economic studies of global oil extraction, on the other. As such, it manages to paint a rich, complex, and profound picture of Russia’s oil industry at the intersection of culture, geography, politics, and the economy, that no scholar of Russia can afford to miss.