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2008 Doctoral Students Awards

Category: The Balkans 
Valentina Burrai (University College London, UK)

Kin-State Politics and Equal Treatment in Croatia

Burai examines how the first post-communist government of Croatia, led by Franjo Tudman’s HDZ Party, undertook a process of institutional reforms in the 1990s that redefined the place of national minorities in the new independent state. Burai focuses on three interacting elements of HDZ’s policy: the legacy of Yugoslav institutions, Tudman’s nationalizing project and international pressure. She argues that these elements converged to preserve and even improve the status of the Italian and Hungarian minorities, but not of the Serbs, Bosniaks or Slovenes. In Burai’s analysis, “kin-states” played a “crucial” role in promoting the rights of their ethnic brethren in Croatia as long as they did not hinder the state- and nation-building agenda of the HDZ.

Category: Central Europe 
Helena Toth (Harvard University, US)

Why Not Admit It Openly? I Need to Make a Living: Exile as Profession in the Aftermath of the Revolutions of 1848

Toth explores the “notoriously complicated” relationship between political exile and labor migration in the aftermath of the 1848 revolutions across Europe, which produced thousands of political refugees of various political persuasions and social backgrounds. Toth discusses how the so-called 48’ers followed the labor migrants abroad and assesses the extent to which German and Hungarian political émigrés arriving in the United States managed to capitalize on their unique experience within the various cultural spheres of their new home, particularly in connection with “embedded cultural expectations” vis-àvis ethnicity. Focusing on a few specific examples, Toth illustrates that, for some, “it was possible to make a living not despite being a political émigré but in part as a result of it”.

Category: Central Asia Turkey 
Sarah Cameron (Yale University, US)

Can You Get to Socialism by Camel? The Kazakh Famine and the 1928 Confiscations

Cameron examines the 1928 campaign to confiscate livestock and property from wealthy Kazakhs in Semipalatinsk, the first step in an early Soviet drive to refashion society that led to a terrible famine claiming the lives of over 1.5 million Kazakhs. Cameron joins the recent chorus providing “needed correctives” to the view that the violence and the famine resulted from long-standing Kazakh-Russian tensions, or constitute an ethnic genocide perpetrated by Russians against Kazakhs. Underlining the very deep divisions among Kazakhs in the 1920s and the primacy of regional and clan-based identities, she argues that intra-ethnic violence was one of the crucial factors behind events, concluding that “an ethnically specific outcome, or devastation among the region’s Kazakh population, cannot be confused with an ethnically specific intent.”

Category: Central Asia Turkey 
Kristin Fabbe (MIT, US)

Defining Minorities and Identities: Religious Categorization and State-Making Strategies in Greece and Turkey

Fabbe’s discussion explores why states choose to reinforce certain social categories over others in the state-building process and how the imperatives of state-building lead elites to emphasize some aspects of identity and down-play others. Investigating the consolidation of state power in Greece and Turkey in the 1920s, Fabbe demonstrates how state-makers privileged religious categories over potential alternatives, such as race, blood-ties or language, in defining enemies and minorities and constructing policies of deportation, resettlement and economic discrimination. She argues that linking the state to religion served both symbolic and practical functions in a way that other identity categories could not and, ironically, helped to curtail the authority of religious institutions and secure the preeminence of the secular state.

Category: Caucasus Russia Ukraine 
Jesse Driscoll (Stanford University, US)

Inside Anarchy: Intra-Ethnic Violence in Georgia and Tajikistan

Driscoll discusses the rapid emergence of order and stability in Dushanbe and Tbilisi during the closing phases of the Georgian and Tajik civil wars. Using data gathered from retired militia captains and paramilitary foot soldiers involved in the civil violence, Driscoll offers a “more nuanced understanding of militia members’ beliefs and preferences”. He argues that the violence was neither “ethnic” nor “anarchic”, but rather a violent competition between paramilitary militia groups over government offices. Explicitly part of the state during the wars, these militias felt entitled to a share of the rents of statehood. Driscoll suggests that targeted aid transfers to such settings to compensate for supposed state weakness might unwittingly increase the value of the prize being contested.

Category: Nationalism 
Lee Seymour (Northwestern University, US)

The Surprising Success of “Separatist” Groups: The Empirical and Juridical in Self-Determination

Seymour discusses why so many groups engage in costly, violent and protracted struggles for self-determination when ethnic separatism is supposedly “a dead-end”. He argues that contemporary self-determination is no longer understood by international law, state practice or insurgent objectives exclusively in terms of independent statehood — therefore, a new, more “nuanced and flexible” conceptualization is needed. Seymour operationalizes his new concept in an original dataset measuring different kinds and degrees of self-determination attained by groups. Examination of these conflicts reveals that almost every resolution since 1975 has resulted in gains in territorial autonomy and/or legal status for the challenging group, and provides valuable direction in assessing the prospects for resolving on-going conflicts and the likelihood of future conflict.