BASEES Postgraduate Prize 2014

We are delighted to announce this year's winners of the BASEES Prize for the Best Scholarly Article by a Postgraduate Student. The prize has been divided between Gleb J. Albert for his article “‘To help the Republicans not just by donations and rallies, but with the rifle’: militant solidarity with the Spanish Republic in the Soviet Union, 1936-37” in European Review of History 21(4): 501-518. and Ilya Yablokov for his contribution to the article: Elisabeth Schimpfossl and Ilya Yablokov, ‘Coercion or Conformism? Censorship and Self-Censorship among Russian Media Personalities and Reporters in the 2010s’, Demokratizatsiya, 22 (2014): 295-312. The prize was awarded at the 2015 Annual Conference at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge.

To

Gleb J. Albert (Co-Winner)

 (University of Zurich, Swizerland)

for

Albert, Gleb J. (2014) “‘To help the Republicans not just by donations and rallies, but with the rifle’: militant solidarity with the Spanish Republic in the Soviet Union, 1936-37” in European Review of History 21(4): 501-518.

Gleb Albert’s study of the involvement of Soviet volunteers – and Soviet public opinion more broadly – in the Spanish Civil War is an important, timely and intriguing contribution, well worthy of special mention. Mobilising newly available archival materials and a rich historiographical context, Albert embarks on a complex and careful historical sociology, delving into the motivations and objectives of Soviet citizens and Stalin’s emergent regime, and the often convoluted interactions between the two. He finds that “the responses ‘from below’ to the solidarity campaign with republican Spain present a paradoxical picture of internationalist engagement that was both in line and at odds with the official discourse of internationalism.” The result is a deeper understanding of the ways in which a regime’s development of an ideologically structured frame for both domestic and international affairs simultaneously empowers and constrains the state, by creating powerful, self-reinforcing incentives for citizens and elites. Indeed, in ways that the author may not have been able to anticipate at the outset, the article resonates in the present day and has significant implications for those seeking to understand the factors both causing and limiting current events in Russia and Ukraine.

 

 

Ilya Yablokov (Co-Winner)

(University of Manchester)

for his contribution to

Elisabeth Schimpfossl and Ilya Yablokov, ‘Coercion or Conformism? Censorship and Self-Censorship among Russian Media Personalities and Reporters in the 2010s’, Demokratizatsiya, 22 (2014): 295-312

This article’s main angle is a series of elite interviews with members of Russia’s state media stratum. This includes such notorious figureheads as Dmitrii Kiselev and Maxim Shevchenko, but also several rank-and-file reporters. While managing to unearth some choice quotes, it makes a very weighty contribution to contemporary understandings of the Russian media realm, dominant political discourses, national identity and Russian governance. The central claim is to challenge the (prevalent) idea that the state either actively forces reporters on federal television to promote pro-Kremlin views, or that pro-Kremlin views are the result of substantial self-censorship by journalists themselves. Quite the contrary: the article argues that reporters are active agents in shaping their own agendas; this is important in providing diverse and compelling TV which gains high ratings (even though such agendas broadly fit within limits set by the Kremlin). Therefore those that promote the dominant Kremlin discourses do so because they have chosen to do so, often with Messianic zeal and considerable cunning. They promote the notion of “adek­vatnost’” – best translated as the right (pro-state) instinct combined with adroit appropriateness and a portion of wiliness.  All in all this is a highly topical and relevant, as well as factually rich, article. It is engagingly written and compellingly argued and so, all in all is a thoroughly deserving winner.

Jury:

Dr Sam Greene (Kings Russia Institute)

Dr Luke March (University of Edinburgh)