Soyuz’s annual article prize recognizes an outstanding article in postsocialist studies published by a junior scholar in the preceding year.
The 2018 Soyuz Article Prize goes to Lilia Topouzova for “Re-inventing Socialist Eastern Europe: Gendered Representations of the Communist Experience in Post-Communist Cinema,” published in Gender & History in July 2018. In this beautifully written article, Topouzova presents the story of Julia Ruzhgeva, an infamous guard at a forced-labor camp who stood trial and became iconic of the horrors of state socialist violence. By interweaving historical analysis with documentary film-making with Ruzhgeva herself, as well as her daughter and former boss at the forced-labor camp, Topouzova presents an empirically rich case study that explores hard questions about how to remember, narrate, and make sense of traumatic national near-pasts. The writing is wonderfully compelling. Topouzova weaves the intimacies of Ruzhgeva’s life (or, rather, narrative attempts at constructing this complex and indeterminate past) with the themes of gender and state violence in socialist Bulgaria in ways that are engrossing—and troubling. The effect is stunning and wholly original, adding to the power of the story that Topouzova tells about storytelling. One of the most significant contributions of the article is to push us to think of narrative and the multi-sensory power of film as working together in efforts to counter dichotomies such “socialist vs. postsocialist,” or “individual agency vs. structural conditions that limit or induce agency.” With its focus on the memory of the gulag and female perpetrators of state socialist violence, the article forges a creative, interdisciplinary approach to issues that are very difficult to tackle. It has clear implications both for postsocialist studies and for interdisciplinary understandings of issues to which postsocialist studies can contribute: agency, memory, representations of the past, the multiplicities of history, and silence. In sum, in this article Topouzova demonstrates vast historiographical knowledge, uncommon sophistication of argument, and creativity in her methodology and writing, for all of which we are pleased to award her this prize.
Honorable Mentions go to Tamta Khalvashi for “The Horizons of Medea: Economies and Cosmologies of Dispossession in Georgia,” published in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI) in 2018
Ivan Rajković for “For an Anthropology of the Demoralized: State Pay, Mock-Labour, and Unfreedom in a Serbian Firm,” which appeared in JRAI in 2017.
The winner was Dr. Madgalena E. Stawkowski for her article “‘I Am a Radioactive Mutant:’ Emergent Biological Subjectivities at Kazakhstan’s Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site,” which appeared in American Ethnologist: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/amet.12269/abstract
Honorable mentions went to:
Dr. Lily Chumley, for “Seeing Strange: Chinese Aesthetics in a Foreign World,” published in Anthropological Quarterly: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/613675/pdf
Dr. Emily Channell-Justice, for “‘We’re Not Just Sandwiches:’ Europe, Nation, and Feminist (Im)Possibilities on Ukraine’s Maidan,” which appeared in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/689639
The inaugural article prize was awarded to Dr. Inna Leykin for “Rodologia: Genealogy as Therapy in Post Soviet Russia,” which appeared in Ethos: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/etho.12078/abstract
Receiving honorable mentions were: