BASEES Prize for the Best Scholarly Article by a Postgraduate Student

The BASEES Prize for the Best Scholarly Article by a Postgraduate Student is offered annually by the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies for a scholarly, peer-reviewed article of high quality in any of the disciplinary and geographical areas which fall within the BASEES remit. The term ‘article’ can be taken to include a chapter in an edited volume. The authors of nominated works must at the time of nomination be members or associate members of the Association. For details of the full eligibility see the criteria below.

The deadline for nominations for articles published in the calendar year preceding the deadline is 1 July 2019. The judges for the 2019-20 award are Dr Andrea Gullotta, University of Glasgow and Dr Kelly Hignett, Leeds Beckett University. The winners will be announced early in 2020 and the prize (if awarded) will be presented at the annual dinner of the 2020 conference.

The regulations are proposed as follows: 

1. The prize, of one hundred and fifty pounds, is offered annually for a scholarly, peer-reviewed article of high quality in any of the disciplinary and geographical areas which fall within the BASEES remit. The term ‘article’ can be taken to include a chapter in an edited volume.

2. The author of the nominated article must be registered as a postgraduate at a higher education institution at the time the final version of the article is approved for publication, and after the editorial process is complete and all revisions have taken place. Written evidence of this must be provided in the form of a letter from the editor. Proof of postgraduate status must also be supplied.

3. Articles nominated for consideration must be of a scholarly character and constitute original research. They must be in English, and must have received final acceptance for publication within the 12 months of the calendar year preceding the annual closing date for nominations.

4. The article must be of no fewer than 5,000 words and no more than 15,000 words in length.

5. Co-authored articles may be nominated, provided that they are accompanied by clarification of the input of the postgraduate student (this does not apply if all of the co-authors are postgraduate students).

6. The authors of the nominated article 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.

7. 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 two members of the committee.

8. The jury may divide the Prize equally between not more than two nominated articles in any year; or they may make no award in any year in which no article of sufficient merit presents itself.

9. Articles may be nominated by the authors, or by editors, librarians or other scholars.

10. The nominated article(s) should be supplied in electronic form and should include a cover sheet with full details of the author, including contact details, and of the article.

11. The deadline for submission of nominations shall be 1 July each year in respect of articles whose date of final acceptance 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.

12. 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.

The BASEES Prize for the Best Scholarly Article by a Postgraduate Student is offered annually by the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies for a scholarly, peer-reviewed article of high quality in any of the disciplinary and geographical areas which fall within the BASEES remit. The term ‘article’ can be taken to include a chapter in an edited volume. The authors of nominated works must at the time of nomination be members or associate members of the Association. For details of the full eligibility see the criteria above.

Nominations must be submitted on this form, which should be completed and sent to the Secretary of the Association, either as hard copy, or as an e-mail attachment, by 1 July 2019, together with two copies of the nominated publication. The Secretary’s name and contact details may be found in the latest edition of the BASEES Newsletter, or on the BASEES Committee page.

current winner


Catherine Gibson (European University Institute) for ‘Shading, lines, colors: mapping ethnographic taxonomies of “European Russia”’ in Nationalities Papers, Vol 46, Issue 4 (2018).

 Catherine Gibson's well-written and extensively researched article sheds new light on the importance of cartography in shaping the ethnographic landscape of the Russian Empire in the second half of the nineteenth century. Drawing on an impressive list of secondary sources, and a close analysis of two ethnographic maps (Keppen 1851 and Rittikh 1875), Gibson convincingly argues that the techniques used to create these maps have helped the construction of the ethnographic taxonomies in use in the Russian Empire. Gibson further shows the impact of cartography on the visual representation of ethnicity and nationality within the Empire. Inspiring, well-researched and methodologically rigorous, Catherine Gibson's article is a deserving winner of this year's BASEES Postgraduate Prize.

Past winners


Olena Palko (Birkbeck, University of London) for "Between Two Powers: The Soviet Ukrainian Writer Mykola Khvyl'ovyi" in Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 64 (2016), H. 4, S. 575–598

Olena Palko’s study of ‘Soviet Ukrainian Writer’ Mykola Khvyl’ovyi effectively challenges the existing historical and literary paradigm which seeks to classify prominent intellectuals as communist or nationalist. Palko’s central argument, that Khvyl’ovyi’s multifaceted identity as proletarian writer, Bolshevik and Soviet Ukrainian during the 1920s was complex but not contradictory, is compelling and lays the basis for a much more nuanced analysis of his life and literary legacy. This engaging and well-written article draws on available archival materials and original literary analysis, effectively integrated within a rich historiographical context. Palko’s study not only broadens our knowledge and understanding of Khvyl’ovyi and his work, but also provides many useful  observations about ‘national intellectuals’ in the early Soviet period. Therefore, it is a deserving winner of this year’s BASEES Postgraduate Prize.


Ellen Martus (University of New South Wales, Australia) for ‘Contested policymaking in Russia: industry, environment, and the “best available technology” debate,’ Post-Soviet Affairs (2016): 1-22

This article analyses the Russian policy process by examining the ability of industry to determine policy outcomes. It focusses on the environmental policy process concerning the introduction of the "best available technology". This highly contested policy led to significant opposition from industry groups and disputes between government actors. The case demonstrates that industrial interests in Russia are able to exert considerable influence on the policy process, albeit that this policy process is heavily bureaucratized, dominated by a range of competing interests, and that policy outcomes are often best achieved with the Kremlin's direct intervention. The judges found this contribution to be a detailed, rigorously researched and well-written account that transcends its ostensibly narrow focus to contribute to broader debates about contemporary Russian policy making, civil society and democratisation. It shows that Russian politics is not simply about executive dominance and presidential centralisation, but about a constant negotiation between competing interests. As such, this is an impressive article which will influence future research and which should grace future Russian studies course guides.


Yulia Kiseleva  (King’s College London) for Kiseleva, Y (2015) "Russia's Soft Power Discourse: Identity, Status and the Attraction of Power", Politics, 35(3-4): 316-329

This article adopts an intriguing perspective on a currently ‘hot’ topic – that of Russian soft power and its relationship to Russian foreign policy. Instead of trying to measure soft power, or simply assuming that Russia has adopted Joseph Nye’s well-trailed definition of soft power, Yulia Kiseleva uses an interpretivist approach to focus on why Russian elites are drawn to soft power, how they interpret it, and how such interpretations affect their interactions with the outside world. Kiseleva focusses on the ‘hegemonic’ nature of the customary soft power discourse, which is intricately bound up with Euro-Atlanticist normative criteria that Russia is ex-initio unlikely to meet. Russia adopts a countervailing discourse which experiences a profound duality – it takes on some of the characteristics of the hegemonic discourse, but also tries to challenge it. Soft power discourse therefore indicates the tensions in Russia’s love-hate relationship with the West and its interpretation of the West both as hegemon and Russia’s Other. Russia appears trapped in a vicious circle whereby in response to purportedly insidious and manipulative Western soft power, its policy makers adopt competitive policies based on this faulty perception of soft power which thereby perpetuate mutual distrust. The judges concurred that this was a very sophisticated and nuanced article, which makes some telling empirical and theoretical observations, and is stylishly written. It is likely to be an agenda-setting article for future work on Russian soft power and foreign policy. 


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. 


Łukasz Szulc (University of Antwerp), ‘From queer to gay to The names we dare to speak in Poland’, Lambda Nordica 17 (4), 2012: 65-98.

This topical, relevant and methodologically interesting article addresses an issue that, while seemingly not in the spotlight of contemporary Slavonic studies, in fact sheds significant light on important social, discursive and ideational developments. The author does an admirable job of integrating several analytical narratives – one geographically and temporally local to today’s Poland, one situated in the broader context of post-socialist ‘transition’, and one more generally global – into a compelling exploration that says as much about processes of social transformation in Poland as it does about the LGBT movement in that country. Moreover, the article presents significant original research, making effective use of archived online discussions as an unadulterated historical record, thus adding both to our stock of knowledge and to our level of understanding. It is also worth noting that the article is well written and solidly constructed. For all of these reasons, the article deserves recognition with this prize.