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2020 Book & Graduate Paper Prizes

The Society for Albanian Studies is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2020 Stavro Skendi Book Prize for Achievement in Albanian Studies is awarded to Dr. Smoki Musaraj (Ohio University) for Tales from Albarado: Ponzi Logics of Accumulation in Postsocialist Albania (Cornell University Press, 2020).

Tales from Albarado – Albarado elides Albania and El Dorado – describes a key moment in modern Albanian history: the rise and fall of the so-called ‘pyramid firms’ of the 1990s, when 1.5 million investors lost upwards of $1 billion to a dozen different, sprawling Ponzi schemes. This financial collapse led in 1997-1998 to a near-civil war and set Albania’s new, capitalist economy back a decade, or more. Employing economic-anthropological theoretical frameworks and based on both archival-documentary and ethnographic data, Musaraj concludes that the Albanian pyramid phenomenon was not a result of illogical economic behavior, i.e. a hysteria; rather, such phenomena – and the growth and bursting of financial ‘bubbles’ generally – are predictable outcomes of fast-moving, liberalized economies that allow and encourage multiple capitalist (‘official,’ ‘embedded’) and non-capitalist (‘kin-based’, ‘non-embedded’) wealth-generating strategies. In fact, Musaraj’s detailed description and analysis of Albania’s post-socialist economy blurs these various dichotomies and demonstrates that traditional economic approaches, which depend on various neo-liberal assumptions, such as rational action, and do not consider socio-cultural contexts, are misguided at best, and potentially tragic at worst. Tales from Albarado will for this reason have impacts that reach well beyond Albanian Studies into many diverse academic fields, including anthropology, economics, and history, and should be read by policy makers as well. The SAS is proud, therefore, to award the Skendi Book Prize to Dr. Smoki Musaraj and hopes her fine book will be very widely read and her warnings about the unintended consequences of capitalism carefully considered.

Tales from Albarado will for this reason have impacts that reach well beyond Albanian Studies into many diverse academic fields, including anthropology, economics, and history, and should be read by policy makers as well.


The Society for Albanian Studies is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2020 Arshi Pipa Best Graduate Student Award is Arbër Jashari for his study entitled “Tradition, Affect, Ethics: A View of Kosova’s Movement of Non-violent Resistance in the 1990s.”

Jashari’s study employs an anthropological perspective to analyze the processes that enabled and sustained the movement of non-violent resistance in Kosova during the 1990s. The 2020 Prize Committee praised the originality and depth of Jashari’s research, which makes a novel and strong argument for the non-violent movement’s basis in traditional knowledge, customs, and ethics.

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Call for Applications – Skendi Book Prize

The Stavro Skendi Book Prize for Achievement in Albanian Studies is presented every year to the best book making a contribution to, and advancing research in Albanian Studies. Albanian Studies is a broadly defined field of study which includes original-scholarly work which furthers understanding of Albanian societies across geo-political borders, time periods, and disciplinary confines. The Prize committee will consider single-case studies, original research, comparative research, and any theoretical and empirical contributions pertinent to the area of Albanian Studies. Nominated books must be in English. They must have been published within three years prior to the year of the award. Books may be nominated by the author or other scholars.

To nominate a book please send an email to Dr. Michael Galaty, Chair of Albanian Book Prize Committee indicating the name of the author and the title of the book nominated. Note that author nominees must be members of the SAS at the time of the book’s nomination.

Please include the following documents: 1) a one paragraph summary of the work; 2) the date, place and name of the publisher; 3) a short bio of the author; and 4) the PDF version of the book. Alternatively, you may send print copies of the book to all committee members at the addresses indicated below.

The nomination and supporting documents should be sent before the deadline of June 30, 2020. The committee will make the selection and notify the recipient of the award by October 15, 2020. The Award will be formally presented at the Annual Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European & Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in Washington D.C, in November 2020.

Book Prize Committee Members:

Michael Galaty, Chair, Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, University of Michigan, 3010 School of Education Building, 610 E. University Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1259

Elton Skendaj, Peace Studies, Manchester University, 604 East College Ave, North Manchester, IN 46962

Jeta Rudi Polloshka, Agribusiness Department, Cal Poly, 1 Grant Ave., San Luis Obispo, CA 95407

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2019 Book & Graduate Paper Prizes

The Society for Albanian Studies is pleased to announce that the 2019 Stavro Skendi Book Prize for Achievement in Albanian Studies is awarded to Michael L. Galaty for his book Memory and NationBuilding: From Ancient Times to the Islamic State.

A comprehensive but accessible study of how states appropriate collective memory, Memory and Nation Building offers rich insights drawn from Albania, Greece, and Egypt. Galaty takes seriously the differences in state-building practices in each of these cases, tying such differences to dissimilar responses to collective memory and the political uses of memory production. The 2019 Prize Committee praised the breadth and depth of Galaty’s suggestive study, which draws from a variety of disciplines including anthropology, archaeology, psychology, history, nationalism theories, and fiction. The committee was particularly impressed by the study’s ambitious comparative commitment, which situates Albanian memory practices within a broader post-Ottoman and Mediterranean context. Memory and Nation Building notably adopts a diachronic approach, making connections from prehistory to the present. Additionally, it reveals the importance of crossing national borders by exploring neglected and under studied communities such as Greek-Albanians and Albanian-Egyptian minorities. 

Memory and Nation Building offers rich insights drawn from Albania, Greece, and Egypt. Galaty takes seriously the differences in state-building practices in each of these cases, tying such differences to dissimilar responses to collective memory and the political uses of memory production

About the author: Michael L. Galaty is Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan and directs the University of Michigan’s Museum of Anthropological Archaeology. 


The Society for Albanian Studies is pleased to announce that the 2019 Arshi Pipa Graduate Student Paper Award is awarded to Eneos Çarka for the essay “East-West-East: When the Ship Comes In.” The winning essay is derived from the author’s MA thesis in Film Studies at University College London.

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2018 Book & Graduate Paper Prizes

The Society for Albanian Studies is pleased to announce that the winner of the Stavro Skendi Book Prize for Achievement in Albanian Studies is Elidor Mëhilli for his book From Stalin to Mao, Albania and the Socialist World.

Mëhilli has produced a groundbreaking history of communist Albania that illuminates one of Europe’s longest but least understood dictatorships. From Stalin to Mao, which is informed throughout by the author’s unprecedented access to previously restricted archives, captures the powerful globalism of post-1945 socialism, as well as the unintended consequences of cross-border exchanges from the Mediterranean to East Asia.

We will present the Prize at the SAS annual meeting at the ASEEES conference in Boston on December 8. In addition to the Stavro Skendi Book Prize, Elidor will collect two more prizes at the conference: The Davis Center Book Prize in Political and Social Studies for outstanding monograph on Russia, Eurasia, or Eastern Europe in anthropology, political science, sociology, or geography, and the Marshall Shulman Book Prize for an outstanding monograph dealing with the international relations, foreign policy, or foreign-policy decision-making of any of the states of the former Soviet Union or Eastern Europe.

From Stalin to Mao … captures the powerful globalism of post-1945 socialism, as well as the unintended consequences of cross-border exchanges from the Mediterranean to East Asia.

The Book Prize Committee members included Elez Biberaj (Chair), Director, Eurasia Division, Voice of America; Eckehard Pistrick, University of Cologne; and Matvey Lomonosov, McGill University


The winner of the Arshi Pipa Best Graduate Student Paper Award is Raino Isto of the University of Maryland, College Park for his paper “The Dictator Visits the Studio: The Vlora Independence Monument and the Politics of Socialist Albanian Sculpture, 1962–1972.”

Isto’s paper is original and well-articulated, highlighting the ways that former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha took seriously the importance of works of art in shaping the collective imagination of the people. The paper contributes to a key topic in Albanian studies, namely the history of Albanian art during the period of the cultural revolution. This paper is also very timely, with many ongoing discussions of art, monuments, and history occurring in several fields at the present moment.

Isto’s paper is original and well-articulated, highlighting the ways that former Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha took seriously the importance of works of art in shaping the collective imagination of the people.

The Graduate Student Paper Award Committee was made up of Chelsi West Ohueri (Chair), Gent Carrabregu, and Fjolla Kondirolli. We will present the Award at the SAS association meeting at the ASEEES conference in Boston on December 8.

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Inaugural Book & Paper Prizes Announced

The Society for Albanian Studies is pleased to announce that the winner of the inaugural Stavro Skendi Book Prize for Achievement in Albanian Studies is Eckehard Pistrick of the Institute for European Ethnomusicology at the University of Cologne for his book Performing Nostalgia: Migration Culture and Creativity in South Albania (Ashgate, 2015).

The annual Skendi prize recognizes contributions to Albanian Studies, broadly defined. Dr. Pistrick’s book, in the committee’s judgment, impressively connects ethnomusicology, anthropology and migration studies. Linking sound with space and emotionality, it offers a new understanding of the role of the oral tradition within Albanian communities, in particular its ability to deal creatively with painful experiences and the realities of migration.

The book prize committee was made up of Anna Di Lellio (Chair), Arolda Elbasani, and Elidor Mëhilli.

Linking sound with space and emotionality, Performing Nostalgia offers a new understanding of the role of the oral tradition within Albanian communities, in particular its ability to deal creatively with painful experiences and the realities of migration.


The winner of the Arshi Pipa Best Graduate Student Paper Award is Fjolla Kondirolli of Cornell University for her paper, “Determinants of Early Childhood Development in Kosovo.”

In the view of the committee, Kondirolli’s paper (drawn from her MA thesis) tackles an important and understudied topic in the field of Albanian Studies: early childhood development in Kosovo. It is original, insofar as it employs newly available data to test existing theories of early childhood development in Kosovo for the first time.

The graduate student paper award committee was made up of Elton Skendaj (chair), Chelsi West Ohueri, and Pellumb Kelmendi.

Congratulations to our winners!

A formal award conferral will be made during our business meeting at ASEEES 2017 in Chicago.

Categories
Announcements Prizes

Call for Applications – Skendi Book Prize

The Stavro Skendi Book Prize for Achievement in Albanian Studies is presented every year to the best book making a contribution to, and advancing research in, Albanian Studies. Albanian Studies is broadly defined to include original work that furthers our understanding of Albanian societies across geo-political borders, time periods, and disciplinary confines.

The Prize committee will consider single-case studies, comparative research, and any theoretical and empirical contributions pertinent to the area of Albanian Studies. Nominated books must be in English. They must have been published within three years prior to the year of the award. Books may be nominated by the author or other scholars. Only scholarly books published by an academic press will be considered for the prize.

To nominate a book please send an email to the committee members indicating that you are doing so. Please include the following documents: 1) a one paragraph summary of the work; 2) the date, place and name of the publisher; 3) a short bio of the author; and 4) the PDF version of the book. Alternatively, you may send print copies of the book to all committee members at the addresses indicated below. The nomination and supporting documents should be sent before the deadline of June 30, 2017. The committee will make the selection and notify the recipient of the award by October 15, 2017. The Award will be formally presented at the Annual Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European & Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in Chicago, IL, in November 2017.

Book Prize Committee Members:

Anna Di Lellio , Chair
Graduate Program in International Affairs
New York University
19 University Place
5th Floor
New York, NY 10003

Elidor Mehilli
Hunter College of the City University of New York
Department of History
695 Park Avenue
New York, New York 10065

Arolda Elbasani
New York University
Center for European and Mediterranean Studies
285 Mercer St, 7th Floor
New York NY 10003