Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies

2010 Citation Recipient

Olga Shevchenko

TheĀ 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: Olga Shevchenko
Title: Crisis and the Everyday in Postsocialist Moscow (Indiana University Press)

Olga Shevchenko’s study of contemporary life in Moscow provides an excellent balance of rich ethnographic research, an insightful theoretical framework, and engaging writing. She integrates many different aspects of urban life during this period, and offers the kind of ethnographic breadth and depth that is difficult to achieve in urban ethnographies. Her identification of “total crisis” as the defining feature of post-socialist life structures a fascinating analysis of the seemingly contradictory narratives and choices of the people she portrays through lively descriptions and skillful incorporation of different modes of research. Shevchenko invites the reader into everyday life in Moscow and offers insights into how people navigate the complicated world in which extended crisis becomes lived reality.

Honorable Mention: Bruce Grant
Title: The Captive and the Gift: Cultural Histories of Sovereignty in Russia and the Caucasus (Cornell University Press)

Bruce Grant crafts a smart and unique take on the complex and acrimonious relationship between Russia and the Caucasus. It is an issue of historic and contemporary importance, which Grant illuminates in this highly original case study, drawn from multi-media and interview sources and embedded in a rich intellectual discussion. It is a marvelously written and lyrical book.

Honorable Mention: Douglas Rogers
Title: The Old Faith and the Russian Land: A Historical Ethnography of Ethics in the Urals (Cornell University Press)

Rogers shows that there is still considerable value in a village ethnography. The focus on ethical systems and their effects on the management of human capital is a valuable addition to the anthropology of post-socialism. It is especially noteworthy for the attention it brings to communities like Sepych, whose experiences and internal logic often contrast sharply with the visions and goals of policy-makers. The study is enriched by combining a historical approach with contemporary ethnographic research.