Marshall D. Shulman Book Prize

2016 Citation Recipient

Eileen Kane

The Marshall D. Shulman Book Prize, established in 1987 and sponsored by the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph dealing with the international relations, foreign policy, or foreign-policy decision-making of any of the states of the former Soviet Union or Eastern Europe published in the previous calendar year. The prize is dedicated to the encouragement of high-quality studies of the international behavior of the countries of the former Communist Bloc.

Winner: Eileen Kane
Title: Russian Hajj: Empire and the Pilgrimage to Mecca (Cornell University Press)

This engaging and innovative gem is a joy to read and a remarkable piece of scholarship, destined to reshape how scholars think about the late Russian imperial era and its foreign policies. Eileen Kane breaks new ground by describing how the 19th century tsarist state both supported and interfered with the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in order to further Russian imperial ambitions. Using previously untapped archival materials and drawing on beautiful maps and illustrations, Kane shows that Islam was a more important political tool in imperial Russia than previous scholars have recognized, and relates her arguments to additional political themes with current weight including migration, inter-ethnic relations, and the Russian state’s approach to religion. Kane forces us to rethink basic assumptions about the fixity of state boundaries, the exercise of institutional power, and the relationship between state and non-state actors, and expertly connects the roles played by transportation companies and those who controlled the networked Hajj complex to the policies of the tsarist state. The book is especially fitting for the Shulman Prize because it is centered on a historical topic that has great relevance for current events, for example in thinking about the relationship between the Kremlin and Islam in the North Caucasus.

Honorable Mention: Lauri Mälksoo
Title: Russian Approaches to International Law (Oxford University Press)

In this original, objective, and deeply researched volume, Lauri Mälksoo grounds current debates about Russian international legal understandings in a distinct intellectual and analytical tradition. He demonstrates that what many in the international community have commonly thought of as the Russian state’s obstreperousness on international legal questions is actually based on a cohesive philosophy extending back before Soviet times, reflected in legal scholarship that echoes through the generations. Mälksoo connects these ideas and theories to Russia’s actual practical engagement with the law, including in the areas of human rights, economics, and military intervention. The book uses this framework to dissect many important contemporary cases, including Kosovo, the Russia-Georgia war, Crimea, the Yukos oil conglomerate controversy, and the European Court of Human Rights. By situating Russian legal understandings in the current “civilizational” and “regionalization” foreign policy imperatives, this book stands as a testimony to the value of historical institutionalism in explaining foreign policy choices.