ASEEES Distinguished Contributions Award

2014 Recipient

Victor A. Friedman

Victor A. Friedman

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: Victor A. Friedman, Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Service Professor in the Humanities at the University of Chicago

In 1975, Victor Friedman received the University of Chicago’s first dual PhD in the Humanities Division from the Departments of Linguistics and Slavic Languages and Literatures. Between 1975 and 1993 he taught at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and then returned to Chicago, where he holds a joint appointment in the Departments of Linguistics and Slavic Languages and Literatures, with an associate appointment in Anthropology, and has directed the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies since 2005.

A renowned sociolinguist, Friedman is one of the world’s foremost authorities on the languages of the Balkans and the Caucasus, with particular specialization in grammatical categories, languages in contact, issues of language variation and standardization, and the juncture of language and the politics of ethnicity and nationalism. Rooted in more than three decades of intensive ethnographic field research, his studies have treated more than fifteen regional languages, including Albanian, Aromanian (Vlah), Azeri, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (especially the Torlak dialects), Bulgarian, Georgian, Greek, Judezmo, Lak, Macedonian, Megleno-Romanian, Old Church Slavonic, Romani, Romanian, Russian, Tajik, and Turkish. Inflected by an exemplary knowledge of regional folklore, sociocultural lifeways, and cultural history, his work is appreciated widely by scholars across disciplinary divides. His productivity is staggering in its volume, topical breadth and interdisciplinarity: between his first book The Grammatical Categories of the Macedonian Indicative and his latest, Speaking the Language: Modes of Culture and Identity in Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia, he has authored 11 monographs, 13 edited works, half a dozen translations, and nearly 300 articles. A cherished speaker, he has given close to 500 colloquia, guest lectures and conference papers.

Professor Friedman has garnered numerous accolades of national and international distinction, among them a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Fellowship, an ACTR/ACCELS Title VIII Research Scholar, and an ACLS/NEH/SSRC International and Area Studies Fellowship. He has been elected a foreign member of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences, of Matica Srpska, and of the Academy of Arts and Sciences in Kosova, alongside numerous visiting appointments. He has generously served his profession:  as a member of the AAASS/ASEEES since 1975, he has been on the executive and nominating committees. He was the president of the American Association for Southeast European Studies. He has served on the editorial boards of leading journals, and has consulted countless foundations and organizations. His work as a Senior Policy and Political Analyst on behalf of the United Nations Protection Forces during the Yugoslav wars of succession, and his contributions to the South Balkan Project of the Center for Preventive Action of the Council of Foreign relations and the US Institute for Peace are noteworthy and laudable.

As if this were not enough, Victor Friedman is a wonderful mentor and colleague; a connoisseur of regional cuisine, including drinks, music and dance; and he is equally renowned for his outstanding scholarship and his superb sense of humor. In recognition of his lifetime achievement, we honor our esteemed colleague with the highest award of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.