Beth Holmgren Graduate Student Essay Prize

2007 Citation Recipient

Emily Baran

TheĀ Beth Holmgren Graduate Student Essay Prize, established in 1990 and named in honor of Professor Holmgren in 2021, is awarded for an outstanding essay by a graduate student in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.

Winner: Emily Baran, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title: “Communism or Armageddon? Representations of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Soviet Press, 1954-1985”

The prize-winning paper for this year uses Soviet newspaper coverage of the Jehovah’s Witnesses as a lens through which to view the complexities of Soviet policy toward religious adherents between the 1950s and 1980s. Baran shows that the Kremlin was forced to balance official atheism, Marxist ideology, and sensitivity toward ethnic minorities as it tried to contend with the Jehovah’s Witnesses, an American-based religious group with mainly working-class adherents living mainly in the recently conquered western parts of the Soviet Union. Combining extensive primary-source research with jargon-free writing, Baran’s exemplary essay furthers our understanding of an under-researched period in Soviet history.