Robert C. Tucker/Stephen F. Cohen Dissertation Prize

2011 Citation Recipient

Eleanory Gilburd

The Robert C. Tucker/Stephen F. Cohen Dissertation Prize, established in 2006 and sponsored by the KAT Charitable Foundation, is awarded annually (if there is a distinguished submission) for an outstanding English-language doctoral dissertation in Soviet or Post-Soviet politics and history in the tradition practiced by Robert C. Tucker and Stephen F. Cohen. The dissertation must be defended at an American or Canadian university and completed during the calendar year prior to the award.

Co-Winner: Eleanory Gilburd, UC Berkeley
Title: “To See Paris and Die: Western Culture in the Soviet Union, 1950’s and 1960’s”

Gilburd raises the timeless question of Russia’s relationship to the west in strikingly new and subtle ways. This work considers the manner in which the “west”, that is western culture, entered the Khrushchev era Soviet Union and indeed was appropriated and internalized and made Soviet in ways that transformed the western imports into part of Soviet culture and identity themselves. This original conception is worked out in several vividly articulated and massively detailed case studies, each one based upon extraordinarily deep sources (archival, textual). For Gilburd, Soviet exposure to the west was part of intra-European cultural traffic. The Soviet Union of the late 1950’s and 1960’s was an integral participant in the cross-Atlantic and pan-European circulation of ideas, sounds and texts. She highlights the emergence of exchange agreements and cultural pursuits as integral to Soviet daily practices. Ultimately the relationship between Russia and the “foreign” is expressed as a claim to ownership or disavowal. One of the authors’ most striking arguments is that Russian society took hold of the “foreign” and claimed Western cultural artifacts and phenomena as Russia’s property. The major case studies are cultural exchange agreements and “friendship;” the VI International Youth Festival in Moscow, 1957; museum-going (the European heritage of impressionism Rockwell Kent and Picasso); and translation and channels of literary transmission. This rich work provides new insights into Soviet identity and cultural dynamics and ultimately into politics in the broadest sense.

Co-Winner: Ora John Reuter