ASN Harriman Book Prize Awarded to Max Bergholz

April 30, 2017



The 2017 ASN Harriman Rothschild Book Prize has been awarded to Max Bergholz for his monograph Violence as a Generative Force: Identity, Nationalism, and Memory in a Balkan Community (Cornell, 2016), a searing, original, and morally engaged study of violence in southeastern Europe during the Second World War.


The Joseph Rothschild Prize in Nationalism and Ethnic Studies, sponsored by the Harriman Institute at Columbia University, is awarded annually at the ASN World Convention for an outstanding book published in the previous calendar year on Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus, Central Asia/Turkey, Central Europe, and the Balkans, in which substantial attention is paid to questions of ethnicity and/or nationalism.


Combining archive-based microhistory, social scientific theory, and extensive fieldwork, Bergholz has created a work of scholarship that represents a state-of-the-art treatment of empirical research on nationalist violence. It bridges the gap between the humanities and the social sciences, between the study of the past and the analysis of contemporary politics, and reveals the ways in which the experience of violence shapes and transforms social relations in human communities.


Bergholz's work rests on a sizable literature that points to the interaction of local grievances with broader narratives of conflict, but he shows in great detail the precise mechanisms that drove an otherwise peaceful community into unimaginable brutality. Violence as a Generative Force will stand alongside the work of Jan Gross and other major contributors to the understanding of social violence in local, multi-ethnic contexts. Through the work of these scholars, we now know more than ever before about the fragility of social order and the precise ways in which small bands of committed entrepreneurs can reshape society in their own violent image.


The committee also awards an Honorable Mention to Rebecca Gould, Writers and Rebels: The Literature of Insurgency in the Caucasus (Yale, 2016).


Four other contenders have also been recognized: David, Brophy, Uyghur Nation: Reform and Revolution on the Russia-China Frontier (Harvard, 2016); Pieter M. Judson, The Habsburg Empire: A New History (Harvard, 2016); Erik R. Scott, Familiar Strangers: The Georgian Diaspora and the Evolution of Soviet Empire (Oxford, 2016); and Gerald Izenberg, Identity: The Necessity of a Modern Idea (Pennsylvania, 2016).


The Award ceremony will take place Saturday May 6, 3.10-3.30 pm, in the Book Exhibit.


The Rothschild Book Prize Committee is comprised of Florian Bieber (U of Graz, Austria),  Dmitry Gorenburg (Harvard U, US), Charles King (Georgetown U, US) and Madeleine Reeves (U of Manchester, UK).

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