Kulczycki Book Prize in Polish Studies

2020 Citation Recipient


Lenny A. Ureña Valerio

The Kulczycki Book Prize in Polish Studies, (formerly the ASEEES Orbis Book Prize), established in 1996 and sponsored by the Kulczycki family, is awarded annually for the best book in any discipline, on any aspect of Polish affairs, published in the previous calendar year.

Winner: Lenny A. Ureña Valerio

Title: Colonial Fantasies, Imperial Realities: Race Science and the Making of Polishness on the Fringes of the German Empire, 1840–1920 (Ohio University Press)

Colonial Fantasies, Imperial Realities is a thought-provoking work of colonial and postcolonial history, which problematizes and recasts race, medicine, and nationalism for export by triangulating Polish, German, and Latin American history. Lenny Ureña Valerio builds upon her extensive fieldwork in Brazil, Germany, and Poland, presenting a volume that engages imaginaries of East and South to discover affinities and build bridges across multiple scholarly fields, methodologies, and seemingly distant research agendas.

Lenny Ureña Valerio has been awarded the 2020 Kulczycki Prize for her work Colonial Fantasies, Imperial Realities for its nuanced, clever, and innovative incorporation of post-colonial studies and studies on the history of the Polish lands; for breaking down national divisions in historiography and offering a transnational approach that illuminates a Polish colonial idea through the lens of regional, imperial, and transcontinental history; and for incorporating diverse scholarly approaches that highlight new connections between the state, science, migration movements, and settler colonialism.

Honorable Mention: Jessie Labov

Title: Transatlantic Central Europe: Contesting Geography and Redefining Culture beyond the Nation (Central European University Press)

Transnational Central Europe places familiar conversations about samizdat and tamizdat literature in unfamiliar territory, imaginatively drawing on the methodology of digital humanities as well as carefully reconstructing the lines of influence drawn by key publishers and publication venues to map a transatlantic intellectual network that, Labov argues, can serve as a blueprint for understanding the transformative power of public discourse. Labov introduces promising new concepts like “transatlantic Central Europe” and “cultural work-arounds” whose heuristic power extends far beyond the field of Polish studies.

Jessie Labov deserves honorable mention for Transatlantic Central Europe, for its innovative approach that seamlessly links intellectual history with the digital humanities within the field of Polish and East Central European studies, for placing Polish culture in the broad landscape of the shifting imaginary geographies of East Central Europe, and for erudition, intellectual breadth, and beautiful writing.