Robert C. Tucker/Stephen F. Cohen Dissertation Prize

2006 Citation Recipient

Heather Dianne DeHaan

TheĀ 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.

Winner: Heather Dianne DeHaan, University of Toronto
Title: “From Nizhnyi to Gorkii: The Reconstruction of a Russian Provincial City in the Stalinist 1930s”

Professor Dehaan’s doctoral dissertation, “From Nizhnyi to Gorkii: The Reconstruction of a Russian Provincial City in the Stalinist 1930s,” explores the effort to turn ‘merchant’ Nizhnyi Novgorod, a well-known center of imperial Russian trade, into the ‘socialist’ city of Gorkii from 1928 to 1941, through a detailed reconstruction of urban planning during this period. The work is based on informed and meticulous research in Russian provincial and central archives, as well as in an ambitious body of relevant published sources. It is elegantly written and conceptually exciting. Many young scholars can do solid archival research; some can produce big ideas; but only a very few are as capable as Dehaan of bringing together the quotidian and metaphysical seamlessly, compellingly, and with such a high level of sophistication. ‘From Nizhnyi to Gorkii’ sheds fresh light, during the Stalin years, on such issues as evolving relations between the center and periphery, professionalization and identity formation, cities as places of lived socialism, the mobilization of pre-revolutionary rituals and ways of thinking in support of Soviet ideals, the role of pragmatism and inertia in socialist construction (or lack of it), and the complexities of state and local politics then. A truly original, distinguished doctoral dissertation, it provides a solid and altogether promising foundation for a genuinely important first book.