Robert C. Tucker/Stephen F. Cohen Dissertation Prize

2014 Citation Recipient

Maria Rogacheva

The 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: Maria Rogacheva, University of Notre Dame
Title: “A History of a Town that Did Not Exist: The Soviet Scientific Intelligentsia in the Post-Stalinist Era”

The dissertation deals with an important but little-known topic, the formation of closed science cities in the Khrushchev era.  The regime’s intent was to mobilize scientific talent for projects related to Soviet military and related research by concentrating scientists in new closed cities.  Rogacheva examines one such city in detail, Chernogolovka.  Tracing the history of this single science city from its creation under Khrushchev through the Brezhnev period, the dissertation paints a rich and nuanced portrait of the living conditions, political outlook, and mentality of the Chernogolovka’s scientific community.  Rogacheva makes a convincing argument that the young scientists who participated in the establishment of Chernogolovka were motivated by a mixture of ideals and career considerations.  They rationalized their privileged status by their identification with the regime’s support for science.  Rogacheva combines archival study with deftly handled in-depth interviews with a number of the scientists who worked in Chernogolovka. She does not over-generalize but she skillfully paints a collective portrait of a social experiment that was both a scientific collective and a real human community. The dissertation lies squarely in the tradition of research practiced by Robert Tucker and Stephen Cohen. We believe that it will make the basis for a significant book and salute Dr. Rogacheva and her committee on a superb dissertation.