ASEEES Distinguished Contributions Award

2023 Recipient

Lynne Viola

Established in 1970, the Distinguished Contributions to Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies Award honors eminent members of the profession who have made major contributions to the field through scholarship of the highest quality, mentoring, leadership, and/or service. The prize is intended to recognize diverse contributions across Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.

Honoree: Dr. Lynne Viola, University Professor Emerita of History at the University of Toronto

A distinguished historian, generous mentor of graduate students, junior scholars, and peers, and a tireless contributor to academic networks and institutions in Canada, the United States, Eastern Europe, and Russia, Dr. Viola exemplifies the spirit of the ASEEES Distinguished Contributions Award in every possible way. She is an extraordinarily creative historian and her numerous monographs, edited volumes, document collections, and articles have reshaped our understanding of Stalinism and the history of the pivotal decade of the 1930s in the Soviet Union. Dr. Viola’s deep and sustained research into the infinite complexity of human landscapes in the rural Soviet Union has set a new standard for scholarship in Soviet history. It is to Dr. Viola’s credit that she has approached the history of the peasants in the Soviet Union from three distinct perspectives: as supporters of the Soviet regime who participated in collectivization from above; as those who resisted Stalinism with every tool in their meager possession; and finally, as victims and guards in remote gulag settlements. Her significant body of work includes The Best Sons of the Fatherland: Workers in the Vanguard of Soviet Collectivization (NY: Oxford University Press, 1987), Peasant Rebels Under Stalin: Collectivization and the Peasant Culture of Resistance(NY: Oxford University Press, 1996), The Unknown Gulag: The Lost World of Stalin’s Special Settlements (NY: Oxford University Press, 2007), and Stalinist Perpetrators on Trial: Scenes from the Great Terror in Soviet Ukraine (NY: Oxford University Press, 2017). Dr. Viola was a key member of the “Stalin Era Research in the Archives Project” and has collaborated with numerous archivists and scholars in Russia and Eastern Europe to declassify archival holdings and publish an extraordinary trove of Soviet archival documents from the 1930s—nineteen volumes of documents and essays, to be precise.

Dr. Viola is also known for her outstanding mentoring of students and colleagues, including scholars from Russia and Eastern Europe. She has supervised numerous MA and PhD theses in subjects as varied as the history of Soviet peasantry, the role of religious institutions during World War II, and Bolshevik attitudes and policies towards homosexuality. According to a former student, “her graduate seminars were models of rigorous, critical scholarship, where the conversation about the core historiographical questions in Soviet studies, and controversies of the moment, demanded that students quickly adapt to a pacey reading schedule and close attention to sources, methodologies, and interpretations.” Finally, Dr. Viola has served with distinction on the editorial boards of numerous scholarly journals, made significant contributions to research institutions and professional organizations in Canada, the United States, Russia, and Europe; and made valuable contributions as a public commentator and intellectual. ASEEES is proud to honor Dr. Viola’s extraordinary achievements.