Ed A Hewett Book Prize

2017 Citation Recipient

Sergei Antonov

The Ed A Hewett Book Prize, established in 1994 and sponsored by the University of Michigan Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies, is awarded annually for an outstanding monograph on the political economy of Russia, Eurasia and/or Eastern Europe, published in the previous year.

Co-Winner: Sergei Antonov
Title: Bankrupts and Usurers of Imperial Russia: Debt, Property, and the Law in the Age of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy (Harvard University Press)

In this book, Sergei Antonov offers an extraordinarily thorough account of the operation of credit relations in pre-revolutionary Russia. Debt permeates modern societies, and Antonov’s layered approach to exploring it calls attention to such overlooked aspects of the phenomenon as informal networks, kinship ties, women’s participation, and small-scale lending, as well as the formal evolution of the legal system surrounding property and debt. Making use of a trove of court cases and other documents, and using social, cultural, and legal lenses of analysis, Antonov shows how the acts of lending and borrowing in nineteenth-century Russia worked in practice. They were not crude, underdeveloped, or the sole purview of banks and wealthy individuals, but instead were complex, extensive, and central to the lives of people of relatively modest means. His book therefore both corrects our understanding of the past and opens our eyes to better ways of understanding the present.

Co-Winner: Juliet Johnson