Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies

2011 Citation Recipient

Kristen Ghodsee

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.

Winner: Kristen Ghodsee
Title: Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria (Princeton University Press)

Kristen Ghodsee’s Muslim Lives in Eastern Europe: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Transformation of Islam in Postsocialist Bulgaria is a sophisticated, nuanced analysis of shifting identities in post-socialist eastern Europe. Focusing on the Pomaks in a former mining town in southern Bulgaria, she argues that the rise of a more “orthodox” Islamic identity in Bulgaria is driven by a mixture of international factors and the local socioeconomic context. As result of these factors, Islamist institutions have become a viable substitute for both workplace and social supports that were damaged by the end of socialism, providing jobs, focus and community. Drawing on a wide range of evidence including ethnographic studies, evaluations of the use of public spaces, and analyses of economic conditions and religious publications, Ghodsee has written an exceptional book that makes an important contribution to our field and is relevant for a broad community of scholars.

Honorable Mention: Sarah Phillips
Title: Disability and Mobile Citizenship in Postsocialist Ukraine (Indiana University Press)

The prize committee unanimously agreed that Sarah Phillips’ rich ethnographic study, Disability and Mobile Citizenship in Postsocialist Ukraine, deserves significant mention. This study provides an important perspective on civic organizations in new democracies. Phillips’ compelling and beautifully written narrative argues that civic organizations in Ukraine are largely driven by personal need and access to scarce resources. The study provides a rich history of state policy and social attitudes toward disabled citizens in the Soviet space. As such, Phillips’ study breaks important new ground in addressing the concerns of the disabled as well as the structural impediments to the formation of civic organizations in post-Communist states.