Skip to main content

2012 Doctoral Students Awards

Category: Caucasus Russia Ukraine 

Evgeny Finkel (U of Wisconsin, Madison / Yale U, US)

Victims’ Politics: Jewish Behavior During the Holocaust 

What explains open resistance to extreme forms of oppression? Analyzing a unique dataset of more than 1,100 Jewish ghettos during the Holocaust, this paper argues that Jewish uprisings against the Nazis were strongly conditioned on pre-Holocaust political factors. In localities where Jews tended to vote for ethnically Jewish parties and which had higher numbers of politically active Zionists, uprisings were more likely than in communities where the Jews supported non-ethnic parties. On the other hand, demographic factors-such as the percentage of Jews in the community, the size of ghetto, the duration of the ghetto’s existence, and the variation in the levels of German oppression prior to the final liquidation of ghettos-have no statistically significant relationship to the occurrence of ghetto uprisings. The paper also demonstrates that the vast majority of uprisings took place in the region that experienced “double occupation”-by the Soviets (1939-41) and subsequently by the Nazis (1941-4), and that the experience of Soviet rule was crucial for the emergence of Jewish resistance to the Nazis. These findings suggest the importance of political identities and institutions in determining the onset of political violence.

Category: Nationalism 
Yuval Feinstein (UCLA, US)

Nationalism, Emotions, and Support for Military Action: Evidence from a Survey-Based Experiment

What motivates Americans to support the use of military power in international conflicts? Scholars often attribute support to rational assessment of success chances and anticipated costs of military actions, or argue that individuals support the use of military power when they sense security threats. This article proposes an alternative approach, according to which the commitment of individuals to protect the prestige “their” nation has vis- à-vis other nations is the root of popular support for military actions. Specifically, the author argues that support for military action emerges when official presentation of an international conflict activates a deeply embedded sentiment of national superiority, which in turn causes individuals to feel proud and confident about the use of military power against perceived enemies. To test this proposition, a survey-based experiment was conducted with a nationally representative sample. In the experiment, nationalist sentiment was stimulated by official rhetoric announcing a plan to use military power against Iran. The results show that participants who were exposed to a rhetoric that used nationalist language to justify military action reported higher levels of nationalist sentiment, pride, and confidence, and were more likely to support the military action than participants who were exposed to internationalist rhetoric or were assigned to a control group. The findings call for reconsideration of popular nationalism and its associated emotional dispositions as an important driving force of public opinion in the US during international crises. 

Category: Eurasia Turkey 
Alp Eren Topal (Bilkent U, Turkey)

Traditional Sources of the “Social” in Turkish Nationalism: The Case of Ziya Gökalp

Ziya Gökalp, invariably cited as the official ideologue of Turkish nationalism, has always been portrayed as a disciple of Western social sciences, most specifically Durkheim and his corporatism.

Just as Partha Chatterjee had suggested, scholars have assumed him to be thinking and writing from within an essentially Bourgeoisie, liberal enlightenment paradigm. This approach implicitly and located Islamic tradition of thought in an irreconcilable opposition to Western Enlightenment thought. However, rereading Gökalp and focusing especially on his language and conceptual scheme, one discovers the undeniable existence of Islamic tradition of thought. He not only tries to consciously accommodate Western social sciences within Islamic social-legal theory, but every single concept he uses while translating from European thought has a long history in Islamic tradition of thought. Accounting for such evidence requires overcoming the dichotomous understanding of Western and Islamic traditions. Indeed, Islamic thought has a definite affinity with Western tradition through both the common influence of ancient Greek philosophy and a history of systematic theoretical thinking. This suggests that Gökalp’s nationalist thought is not simply imported verbatim from European sources; rather it is an appropriation of an existing and receptive tradition which determines and delimits the characteristics of his nationalism. 

Category: Central Europe 
Christopher A. Molnar (Indiana U, US)

Communities of Victims: Croatian Émigrés and German Expellees in Postwar West Germany

Historians have shown that the experience of flight and expulsion in the aftermath of World War II allowed Germans to conceive of themselves not as perpetrators, but as victims of communist terror. Countering claims that this “imagined community” of victims in postwar West Germany amounted to the reconstruction of a nationally exclusive German community, I show that many Germans embraced the small community of Croatian émigrés that settled in West Germany after the war. The Croatian émigré community, led by radical nationalists who had supported the fascist Ustasha regime in Croatia during World War II, developed a martyrology that centered on the “Bleiburg Tragedy”—the Partisans’ massacre of thousands of Croats at the very end of the war—and the more general suffering of the Croatian people under the yolk of communism. Like the German victimization discourse, the Croatian martyrology freed them of any sense of responsibility for their crimes during the war and transformed them into a people worthy of sympathy and support. Despite their compromised pasts, Croats found significant support for their nationalist politics in West Germany during the 1950s, particularly from German expellees and Catholic Church officials, who sympathized with their fate and their anticommunist politics.

Category: The Balkans 
Maj Lervad Grasten (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark)

State-Building, International Norms and Local Knowledge: EULEX and the Reform of Kosovo’s Judiciary

This paper explores the way in which international legal officers, judges and prosecutors working within EU’s rule of law mission in Kosovo (EULEX) construct knowledge on domestic justice sector reforms. By so doing, the paper aims at critically assessing whether or to what degree local social knowledge is integrated in the internal workings of the EULEX’ organizational setting. By uncovering the day-to-day organizational practices of the EULEX’ justice component and the contests over ideas related to its operational strategy, the paper argues that the inherent ambiguity of the abstract concept of the rule of law creates room for interpretation and contestation both within and outside the organization. This leeway for policy implementation in the domestic context has largely privileged the use of generic cognitive templates and policy designs that potentially increase organizational and operational efficiency, but diminishes the integration of local social knowledge in the process of institutional change.