The Alec Nove Prize in Russian, Soviet and Post-Soviet Studies

The Alexander Nove Prize was established by BASEES in March 1995 in recognition of the outstanding contribution to its field of study made by the late Alec Nove.

The Alexander Nove Prize is offered annually by BASEES for scholarly work of high quality in Russian, Soviet and post-Soviet studies. Items eligible for nomination are singly or jointly authored monographs, and  two or more related journal articles or book chapters. The authors of nominated works must at the time of nomination be members or associate members of the Association. 

For the 2016-17 cycle, the Nove Prize scheme is accepting nominations for books published in 2015. The deadline for nominations is 1 July 2016. The judges for the 2016/2017 award are Stephen Hutchings and Peter Waldron. The winners will be announced early in 2017 and the prize (if awarded) will be presented at the annual dinner of the 2017 conference.

The current regulations are as follows:

  1. The prize, of one hundred and fifty pounds, is offered annually for scholarly work of high quality in Russian, Soviet and post-Soviet studies.
  2. A nomination may take the form of a singly or jointly authored monograph, or two or more related journal articles or chapters. Edited collections of essays are not eligible for the scheme.
  3. Works nominated for consideration must be of a scholarly character, must be in English, and must have been published - as defined by the date of imprint or, if a periodical, the cover date - within the 12 months of the calendar year preceding the annual closing date for nominations.
  4. The authors of nominated work must at the time of nomination be members or associate members of the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies. It is the responsibility of the nominator to check the BASEES membership status of potential nominees and ensure that membership is in place prior to nomination. Nominations of non-members will not be considered.
  5. Awards will be made by a jury whose membership will be approved by the Executive Committee of the Association, and which will normally consist of former Presidents of the Association.
  6. The jury may divide the Prize equally between not more than two nominated works in any year; or they may make no award in any year in which no work of sufficient merit presents itself.
  7. Works may be nominated for consideration by the authors, or by publishers, librarians or other scholars.
  8. Two copies of the nominated work(s) should also be sent to the Secretary of the Association. The Secretary’s name and contact details may be found on the BASEES Committee page.
  9. The deadline for submission of nominations shall be 1 July each year in respect of publications whose imprint date is the previous calendar year. The prize is awarded (if a recommendation is made to do so) at the Association's annual conference in the spring of the calendar year following the deadline for submission of nominations.
  10. Nominations should be made on the standard form for this purpose, which is available as a download from this page, and submitted to the Secretary of the Association, or via electronic submission below.


 

1996*  

 Geoffrey Swain, The Origins of the Russian Civil War (Longman, 1995)

Stephen White, Russia goes dry: alcohol, state & society  (CUP, 1995)  

1997* 

Mark Harrison, Accounting for War: Soviet Production, Employment and the Defence Burden 1940-45  (CUP, 1996)

Archie Brown, The Gorbachev Factor (OUP, 1996)

1998* 

Antony Cross, By the Banks of the Neva (CUP, 1996)

Sarah Davies, Popular Opinion in Stalin's Russia (CUP, 1997)  

1999* 

Lindsey Hughes, Russia in the age of Peter the Great (Yale UP, 1998) 

2000* 

Peter Gatrell, A Whole Empire Walking (Indiana UP, 2000) 

G.S. Smith, D.S.Mirsky: A Russian-English Life, 1890-1939 (OUP, 2000) 

2001

Roger Markwick, Rewriting History in Soviet Russia: The Politics of Revisionist Historiography 1956-1974 (Palgrave, 2001)

2002

Simon Franklin, Writing, Society and Culture in Early Rus, c 950-1300 (CUP, 2002)

2003

Stephen Lovell, Summerfolk: A History of the Dacha 1710-2000 (Cornell UP, 2003)

2004

Yoram Gorlizki and Oleg Khlevniuk, Cold Peace: Stalin and the Soviet Ruling Circle, 1945–1953 (Oxford University Press, 2004).

2005 (awarded 2007)

Andrew Wilson, Virtual Politics: Faking Democracy in the Post-Soviet World and Ukraine’s Orange Revolution (both Yale University Press, 2005)

2006 (awarded 2008)

Geoffrey Hosking, Rulers and Victims: The Russians in the Soviet Union (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006)

2007

Gwendolyn Sasse, The Crimea Question: Identity, Transition, and Conflict. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007)

2008

Vesselin Dimitrov, Stalin’s Cold War: Soviet Foreign Policy, Democracy and Communism in Bulgaria, 1941–48 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)

2009

Archie Brown: The Rise and Fall of Communism (Bodley Head, 2009)

2010

Hilary Pilkington, Elena Omel’chenko and Al’bina Garifzianova (University of Warwick, Higher School of Economics St Petersburg and Scientific Research Centre ‘Region’ Ul’ianovsk): Russia’s Skinheads: Exploring and rethinking subcultural lives (Routledge, 2010)

2011

Andreas Schönle, Architecture of Oblivion: Ruins and Historical Consciousness in Modern Russia (Northern Illinois University Press, 2011)

2012

Sarah Oates, Revolution Stalled: The Political Limits of the Internet in the Post-Soviet Sphere (Oxford University Press, 2013)

2013

David Moon, The Plough That Broke the Steppes: Agriculture and Environment on Russia's Grasslands, 1700-1914. (Oxford University Press, 2013)

2014

Madeleine Reeves (University of Manchester) for Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia (Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 2014)

 


The Alexander Nove Prize 2014 (Awarded 2016)

Madeleine Reeves, Border Work: Spatial Lives of the State in Rural Central Asia (Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 2014)

Drawing on extensive and carefully designed ethnographic fieldwork in the Ferghana Valley region, where the state borders of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikizstan and Uzbekistan intersect, Madeleine Reeves develops new ways of conceiving the state as a complex of relationships, and of state borders as socially constructed and in a constant state of flux. She explores the processes and relationships through which state borders are made, remade, interpreted and contested by a range of actors including politicians, state officials, border guards, farmers and people whose lives involve the crossing of the borders. In territory where international borders are not always clearly demarcated or consistently enforced, Reeves traces the ways in which states’ attempts to establish their rule create new sources of conflict or insecurity for people pursuing their livelihoods in the area on the basis of older and less formal understandings of norms of access. As a result the book makes a major new and original contribution to scholarly work on Central Asia and more generally on the anthropology of border regions and the state as a social process.  Moreover, the work as a whole is presented in a lively and accessible style. The individual lives whose tribulations and small triumphs Reeves so vividly documents, and the relationships she establishes with her subjects, are as revealing as they are engaging. Border Work is a well-deserved winner of this year’s Alexander Nove Prize.


The Alexander Nove Prize 2013 (Awarded 2015)

David Moon, The Plough That Broke the Steppes: Agriculture and Environment on Russia's Grasslands, 1700-1914. (Oxford University Press, 2013)

David Moon has produced a path-breaking and highly original work that opens up new perspectives on the history of Russia. Based on original research in archives, field work in the steppe region and little-known published sources, Moon traces the complex changing relationships between the environment and different groups of people in the making and reshaping of the steppe. He analyses the role of settlers from Russia, Ukraine and Central Europe in cultivating the fertile but dry soil of the steppe, gradually adapting their farming methods to new circumstances in response to increasing problems of soil erosion, drought and crop failure. Moon also examines the work of the Russian scientists in their attempts to understand the steppe and the changes arising from its cultivation. Moreover, he situates his history in the broader contexts of the environmental history of the Great Plains of the USA and of European colonialism, and so makes a significant contribution to the international comparative history of grasslands around the world. Moon's work is both readable and scholarly in its breadth and sweep, in its ability to synthesise cultural and social history with the history of science and geography, in the authoritative manner in which the comparative lens is applied, and in the way in which he introduces a personal perspective on his subject without detriment to the rigour of his scholarship. It is a landmark study for all those interested in the history of Russia and is a worthy winner of this year’s Nove Prize.

 

The Alexander Nove Prize 2012 (Awarded 2013)

Sarah Oates, Revolution Stalled: The Political Limits of the Internet in the Post-Soviet Sphere (Oxford University Press, 2013)

There is no more important topic in Post-Soviet Studies than the complex relationship between the new global communication environment and the prospects for democratic change in Putin’s Russia. Any book proposing to assess that relationship needs to be informed by a profound understanding of the competing tensions shaping the Russian political landscape, and underpinned by a thorough grasp of the relevant media theories. Sarah Oates has written just such a book. The picture it paints is as multi-faceted as it is fascinating. Grounded in the latest web analytics techniques, Sarah’s analysis identifies an emergent online civil society at Russia’s grassroots, whilst showing how authoritarian states can co-opt web-based communication modes for repressive purposes. The radical new modes of political networking explored in the final chapter ensure that, ultimately, Revolution Stalled strikes the perfect balance between hope and caution, certainty and doubt. The judges were impressed by the breadth of Sarah’s research, the subtlety of her arguments, and her awareness of both the potential and the limitations of the innovative tools she employs. Hers is a landmark study for those concerned about Russia’s future and a vital case study in how the internet is transforming non-democratic societies. It is a worthy winner of this year’s Nove Prize.


The Alexander Nove Prize 2011 (Awarded 2012)

Andreas Schönle, Architecture of Oblivion: Ruins and Historical Consciousness in Modern Russia (Northern Illinois University Press, 2011)

In Architecture of Oblivion Andreas Schönle offers an ambitious and wide-ranging cultural-historical account of the place of ruins in Russian culture, asking why they have never enjoyed the status that they enjoy in Western Europe, and examining how they have contributed to the development of historical consciousness in Russia from the eighteenth century to the present day. Schönle’s compelling narrative moves from pre-romanticism and Karamzin’s ‘Poor Liza’ through nineteenth-century and modernist literary and artistic treatments of ruins (classical and Russian), responses to the depopulation and dilapidation of Petrograd in the early 1920s, and representations of the fate of Leningrad in and after the blockade, before moving to a trenchant examination of Brodsky’s imagery of ruins and the function of ruins in the projects of the ‘paper architects’. Schönle ends by arguing that former Moscow mayor Luzhkov’s views and implementation of modernisation chime with ‘the Soviet authorities’ notion that ruination can be subversive and that progress can be achieved only at the cost of disowning the past, or rather at the cost of substituting authentic historical relics with a packaged, glossed-over simulacrum’.

Schönle has written an erudite, methodologically sophisticated, but always accessible and engaging contribution to the cultural history of Russia, one that is eminently worthy of recognition by award of the Nove Prize for 2011.


The Alexander Nove Prize, 2010 (awarded 2012)

Hilary Pilkington, Elena Omel’chenko and Al’bina Garifzianova (University of Warwick, Higher School of Economics St Petersburg and Scientific Research Centre ‘Region’ Ul’ianovsk): Russia’s Skinheads: Exploring and rethinking subcultural lives (Routledge, 2010)

This excellent book provides a timely insight into the meaning and significance of skinhead identity in Russia. In the words of the authors, it attempts to understand skinhead in terms of surface appearances and ‘what lies inside: the blood, the guts, the heart, the soul’. It does so by combining innovative approaches from sociology with a deep knowledge of Russian youth subcultures. Methodologically reflexive and astute, the book is accessible, scholarly and impressively coherent despite being the work of numerous hands. Drawing on their extensive fieldwork in Vorkuta, the authors explore different aspects of the everyday lives of skinheads in their families, at work and in studies; the ideology and the ritual of being a skinhead; and the bonds and solidarities engendered by skinhead identity. In so doing, they have produced a work with broad resonance for the understanding of contemporary Russia in particular, and for social science more generally.. The book concludes with a highly insightful discussion of the epistemological, ethical and emotional issues that were raised by the underpinning research, thereby making an important contribution to debates on social science methodology in general. (Terry Cox and David Shepherd)


The Alexander Nove Prize, 2009 (awarded 2011)

Archie Brown (Emeritus Professor, St Antony’s College, Oxford): The Rise and Fall of Communism (Bodley Head, 2009)

In a work that combines erudition, scholarship and a clear, engaging style of writing, Archie Brown has produced a history of communism that is both comprehensive and highly readable. Examining communism as a body of ideas, a movement and a system of rule that affected the lives of millions, Brown’s work is both comprehensive in its narration and critical in its judgements. He explores the origins of the ideology of communism in the works of Marx and Engels, its development as a movement in different nations, its establishment and functioning as a political system, attempts at its reform, and its collapse following perestroika in the Soviet Union. 
In this book, Brown has produced a most impressive piece of scholarship that succeeds in weighing up, organising and presenting a vast amount of information and ideas in a clearly structured and very readable way. The book draws on new archival research, on a wide range of reading accumulated over a long career of scholarship, and in some cases, on Brown's personal acquaintance with the personalities involved in the story he unfolds. As well as offering a clear and readable narrative, Brown provides judgements and insights into some of the big questions relating to the history of communism, such as why it collapsed, but also why it lasted as long as it did.
Overall, Archie Brown has produced a work of great scope and subtlety. It achieves a broad range in a sustained manner without detriment to either scholarly standards or nuance. It therefore makes a very significant contribution to scholarship, and is a worthy winner of the Nove Prize for 2009. (March 2011)


The Alexander Nove Prize, 2008 (awarded 2010)

Vesselin Dimitrov, Stalin’s Cold War: Soviet Foreign Policy, Democracy and Communism in Bulgaria, 1941–48 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)

"In his exhaustively detailed account of a critical seven-year period of Bulgarian history, Vesselin Dimitrov sets out to overcome what he sees as a longstanding weakness of Cold War historiography, the separation between domestic and international dimensions, by offering ‘an integrated analysis of the interaction between Soviet foreign policy and internal political dynamics in Eastern Europe’. In pursuit of this objective, the author presents Bulgaria as an especially apt case study, not only because of the wealth of available archival information, much of it a product of the exceptionally close relationship between Georgii Dimitrov and Stalin, but also because the Balkans in general, and Bulgaria in particular, were more important to the emergence of conflict between the major powers than is often acknowledged. 
We are thus presented with an absorbing account of the connection between the major powers’ move from wartime cooperation to postwar conflict and Bulgaria’s transition from limited democracy to communist monopoly of power. Drawing with impressive assurance on a wide range of British, Bulgarian and Soviet archival materials, as well as on published primary and secondary sources, the book offers a persuasive argument for the need to question assumptions about the fundamental incompatibility of liberal democracy and Communism, and about the inevitability of the Cold War, adding significant nuance to our understanding of the ways in which Stalin shaped the Soviet Union’s relations with the United States and Britain. It makes a significant contribution to scholarship, and is a worthy winner of the Nove Prize for 2008." (Maureen Perrie and David Shepherd, March 2010 )


The Alexander Nove Prize, 2007 (awarded 2009)

Gwendolyn Sasse, The Crimea Question: Identity, Transition, and Conflict. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007)

Historians often find it difficult enough to explain why conflicts happen: it is even more challenging – not to mention risky – to try to explain why a widely expected conflict has not in fact occurred. This is the challenge that Gwendolyn Sasse boldly tackles in her fine study of The Crimea Question. After the break-up of the USSR in 1991 many experts predicted violent confrontation in Crimea, which had been transferred from Russia to Ukraine in 1954, and where the large majority of the population was ethnically Russian. The return of the Crimean Tatars, deported in 1944, added to the ethnic complexity of the situation.
In order to explain why the potential conflicts did not materialise, Sasse examines the history and culture of Crimea through the tsarist and Soviet periods, before providing a detailed analysis of the regional, national and international politics of the post-Soviet years. She concludes that the processes of constitution-making, rather than the actual institutional outcome (Crimea’s autonomy status within Ukraine) were the key determinant of conflict prevention.
Sasse deals with highly complex issues with great skill and authority. Her research is appropriately informed by a wide range of methodologies, and she develops her arguments clearly and persuasively. The book displays considerable theoretical sophistication, but remains accessible to the general reader. It makes a significant contribution to scholarship, and is a worthy winner of the Nove Prize for 2007. (Maureen Perrie and David Shepherd, March 2009)


The Alexander Nove Prize, 2006 (awarded 2008)

Geoffrey Hosking, Rulers and Victims: The Russians in the Soviet Union, (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006)

In Rulers and Victims Geoffrey Hosking builds on his earlier work on Russian national identity in the Imperial period to provide a perceptive and thoughtful examination of the manifold contradictions of the Russian people’s experience in the USSR. Taking as a starting point Nikolai Berdiaev’s somewhat contentious notion that Soviet Communist ideology was a reincarnation of the Russian Orthodox concept of the ‘Third Rome’, Hosking argues that neither of these forms of messianism fully corresponded to the needs and interests of ordinary Russians.
The author’s magisterial overview of Soviet history focusses on such themes as the Bolsheviks’ nationalities policy in the 1920s and 1930s, the official fostering of Russian patriotism in the 1930s and 1940s, and the development of non-Russian ethnic identities in the post-Khrushchev period—a process that was accompanied by the formulation of a new brand of Russian nationalism. Hosking looks briefly at the creation of the Russian Federation in 1991 and predicts, somewhat pessimistically, that Russia’s post-Soviet identity is more likely to be that of a residual empire than of a modern nation-state. In his Conclusion, he engages with theorists of national identity who claim that nations are the product of modernity, and draws attention to ‘the paradox that modernization seems to have impeded rather than advanced Russian nationhood’. Geoffrey Hosking’s book will appeal to general readers interested in contemporary history, but it also raises important questions about national identity which will continue to be debated by specialists. Both accessible and scholarly, this impressive work makes a major contribution to our understanding of twentieth-century Russia.
(Maureen Perrie and David Shepherd, March 2008)


The Alexander Nove Prize, 2005 (awarded 2007)

Andrew Wilson, Virtual Politics: Faking Democracy in the Post-Soviet World and Ukraine’s Orange Revolution (both Yale University Press, 2005)

"Virtual Politics is a stimulating, original and highly entertaining account of the uses and abuses of ‘political technology’ in the post-Soviet states. While the dark arts of spin doctors are not unique to that part of the world, Wilson argues persuasively that the distinctive political culture of the former USSR helped to create there the peculiar form of pseudo-democracy that he wittily describes as ‘virtual politics’. 
Ukraine’s Orange Revolution is a thorough and detailed account of the dramatic events of late 2004 in Ukraine, effectively placing them in both their short-term and longer-term contexts. 
The two books complement each other in many ways. Virtual Politics is a wide-ranging and conceptually sophisticated comparative study of a number of post-Soviet states, while Ukraine’s Orange Revolution provides an in-depth analysis of a single event in one country. The Orange Revolution involved ‘real politics’; as Wilson points out, it was a revolution within and against the system of ‘virtual politics’ which he had described in his other book. 
The publication by a single author of two such different but equally distinguished books in a single year is in itself a major feat of academic productivity, for which Wilson deserves to be warmly commended. Both books, too, combine high scholarly standards with great readability. In all respects, therefore, Andrew Wilson is a very worthy winner of the Nove Prize for 2005." 
(Rosalind Marsh and Maureen Perrie, April 2007)


*The awards for each year were awarded at the annual conference in the following year, i.e. 1996 awarded 1997.