Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies

2012 Citation Recipient

Katherine Verdery

The Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies, established in 2008 and sponsored by the Kathryn W. and Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph published on Russia, Eurasia, or Eastern Europe in anthropology, political science, sociology, or geography in the previous calendar year.

Co-Winner: Katherine Verdery
Title: Peasants under Siege: The Collectivization of Romanian Agriculture, 1949-1962 (Princeton University Press)

Peasants Under Siege is a fascinating account of the politics, policies, and lived realities of collectivization in Romania. Based on an impressive array of archival and interview material, Kligman and Verdery unearth the complex ways that collectivization was accomplished in Romania and its effects on those it targeted. The book is stunning in both its breadth and depth; it covers the policies and practices of the state’s takeover of private property as well as the many ways this changed the social organization and relationships of village life. And the book does all of this with skill and clarity, offering an account of striking complexity, nuance, and subtlety. The authors did a wonderful job grounding their historical analysis in on-going conceptual debates in the region—linking the Romanian case to discussions of the form and focus of the communist party/state and drawing out the relevance of collectivization for questions of personhood, property, and collective memory. As one member of the award committee put it: “This is what you get when you put two of the best minds in the field together: an empirically rich and conceptually provocative study that changes how we think about a significant chapter in history.”

Co-Winner: Gail Kligman