2021 Summer Travel Grant Recipients

June 3, 2021
Summer Travel Grant Recipients - photo collage

HURI's Summer Research Travel Grant offers Harvard students focusing on Ukraine financial support to carry out research during the summer. As the name conveys, the grant is intended for students whose research requires travel to Ukraine for purposes such as archival research or interviews. With the COVID-19 pandemic still necessitating travel restrictions, our 2021 grants follow Harvard guidelines, permitting necessary travel for graduate students and supporting undergraduate domestic research while travel remains prohibited.

This year, three graduate students and one undergraduate were awarded Summer Research Travel Grants: Anna Bisikalo (PhD student, history), Sophia Kalashnikova Horowitz (PhD student, history), Georgiy Kent (senior, social studies and Slavic languages/literatures), and Danielle Leavitt-Quist (PhD student, history). The graduate students will travel to Ukraine for their projects, while Kent will conduct research on Crimea remotely from the United States, unless conditions change to permit travel.

We're proud of our outstanding grant recipients and look forward to learning from their research.

Anna Bisikalo

Anna BisikaloAnna is a PhD student in the History Department at Harvard University, specializing in modern Ukraine and the Soviet Union. Her dissertation project is a social history of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) in Western Ukraine during the Soviet and post-Soviet periods (1946-2004).

Between 1946 and 1989, the UGCC was barred from open existence by the Soviet state but continued to function clandestinely. Drawing on oral histories, archival research, and ethnographic observation, Anna explores the “underground” lives of Greek Catholic believers who adapted their ritual practices, improvised new hierarchies, and facilitated the social reproduction of their faith. Greek Catholic clergy, monastic orders and laypeople navigated the challenges and opportunities of late Soviet life under the close watch of Soviet security agents and redefined the contours of the Church community. In the second half of her project, Anna examines the social, theological, and political consequences of this clandestine period for the UGCC’s post-Soviet revival.

Before coming to Harvard, where Anna works with Serhii Plokhii, she earned a BA in International Relations and Russian & East European Studies from Wesleyan University.

Her research in summer 2021 will be based at Ukrainian Catholic University’s Institute of Church History and their oral history archive, reading first-person accounts of Greek Catholic life spanning three generations. Anna will also analyze the Soviet perspective, covering materials from the Council for the Affairs of Religious Cults in Kyiv state archives. 

Sophia Kalashnikova Horowitz

Sophia HorowitzSophia is a second-year PhD student in the History Department at Harvard University studying the routine policing of individual institutions by the NKVD in the Stalinist Soviet Union.

Sophia’s project explores the nature of routine surveillance at institutions of high political and military importance, as well as the character of the remedies devised by the Soviet secret police to confront particular issues. What was the relationship between the level of state involvement in particular institutions and the role of denunciation versus other means of information-collection in policing? How did purges, a relatively well-known and much-researched type of punishment, fit into the broader spectrum of remedies used by the secret police?

The answer to these questions is focused on the role of the spetsotdel, an intra-institutional department that handled secrecy and other security matters, and the Party organs in a particular institution. Through an exploration of these organizations, the project will tell the story of the day-to-day work of the OGPU-NKVD-MGB, with all its technical intricacies and bureaucratic procedures. It will contribute to a broader historiographical understanding of the role of the secret police in building the Soviet project from the ground up at key points of state control.

At Harvard, Sophia works with Terry Martin. She holds a B.A. from Tulane University in History (2019).

This summer, Sophia plans to work at the Ukraine Security Services (SBU) Archive, where she will be exploring documents relating to OGPU-NKVD-MGB work in Ukraine’s industrial regions. The SBU archival documents are not sorted by institution, but by cases; the researcher’s task, first, is to understand the complete process through which the secret police documented information about particular institutions. Then, one can answer questions about surveillance and remedies. The initial investigation of the filing system and contents of the SBU Archive will be the focus of Sophia’s work this summer. 

Georgiy Kent

Georgiy KentGeorgiy is a Senior at Harvard pursuing a joint concentration in Social Studies and Slavic Languages and Literatures. He is interested in Eastern European and Eurasian issues, focusing specifically on social and political movements in Post-Soviet Ukraine. Last year, Georgiy wrote research papers focusing on Ukrainian civil society’s role in successfully advocating for judicial reform after 2014 as well as reconciliation following the 2014 Revolution of Dignity. 

Georgiy plans to conduct senior thesis research this summer to better understand ethnic minorities, and political and social mobilization within the context of the Crimean Tatar community and Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimea. As a half Crimean Tatar, Georgiy is interested in how the Crimean Tatar community responded to the 2014 annexation and the continuing effects of the Russian occupation of the peninsula. He will conduct a series of in-depth interviews with community leaders, civil society leaders, and government representatives to answer his research question. Georgiy plans to conduct his research this summer online, based in the Cambridge area; however, he is open to conducting in-person interviews in Ukraine should the opportunity present itself. 

Georgiy is excited to pursue his research interests this summer and looks forward to sharing what he learns with the Harvard community.

Danielle Leavitt-Quist

Danielle Leavitt-QuistDanielle is a PhD student in the History Department at Harvard University, focusing on modern Ukraine and the Soviet Union. Her dissertation is an intellectual and cultural history of old age in the Soviet Union, with a special focus on Ukrainian intellectual cohorts that helped to define old age in the twentieth century. Danielle examines how ideas about old age in the Soviet Union (both practical and ideological) changed and developed as the Soviet state itself grew old.

Beginning in the 1920s with radical life extension practices and ending in the 1980s with conservative deference to the State gerontocracy, one thing becomes increasingly clear as the Soviet state grew old: its relationships with the elderly seems to mirror its relationship with both "the past" and "the future." As these relationships changed, the status of the elderly did too. Danielle shows that Soviet ideas about itself were imprinted on ideas about age in general—and specifically the elderly, who, in every generation, sit very precariously at the crossroads of past-present-and future.

At Harvard, Danielle works with Serhii Plokhii. She holds a BA from Brigham Young University in Russian Language and Literature and Women/Gender Studies.

Her research in Ukraine during the summer of 2021 will focus on Soviet Ukrainian scientists investigating old age, the Communist Party’s policies toward the elderly, the Institute of Gerontology in Kyiv, and the generational, political, and economic tensions that emerged as old people began to live longer. 

See also: Research