Robert C. Tucker/Stephen F. Cohen Dissertation Prize

2012 Citation Recipient

Jeffrey S. Hardy

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: Jeffrey S. Hardy, Princeton University
Title: “Khrushchev’s Gulag: The Evolution of Punishment in the Post-Stalin Soviet Union 1953-64”

This richly conceived and researched work focuses on the bureaucratic politics surrounding reform of the Gulag system under Khrushchev. Hardy shows how the question of incarceration was re-imagined and restructured by paying equal attention to the various forces- political, bureaucratic, economic, public opinion and debate that pushed policy toward change and retrenchment. In so doing, he covers in detail the practice and results of reform and counter-reform in various regions over time. The result is a new vision of the Soviet penal system that moves away from the widely held images projected in dissident literature and older historiography of an unchanging and harsh Soviet camp regime to a more nuanced picture that fully embraces the dilemmas of post- mass incarceration societies, and particularly the Soviet Union in the wake of de-Stalinization. He shows, for example, that public desire to keep criminals off the streets, so to speak, often resulted in successful pressure to counter what was perceived to be soft line penal reform that either made camp life too comfortable or even broke down the very fact of incarceration. Ultimately, Hardy reveals the difficulties of changing the culture of incarceration not only in Russia and he deserves great credit for placing this problem in a broad comparative context that includes the United States.