Prof. Melanie Ilic Celebrates a New Publication

On 7 November, I was privileged to be part of the presentation panel at the Centre for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies (CREES), The University of Birmingham, to mark the recent publication of the seventh and final volume in the Palgrave book series on The Industrialisation of Soviet Russia: The Soviet Economy and the Approach of War, 1937-39. The seminar was also an opportunity to celebrate the extensive contribution made to our discipline by Bob Davies.

Bob worked with EH Carr on the later volumes of Carr’s History of Soviet Russia series, before taking this forward with his own pioneering series on Soviet industrialisation under Stalin. In parallel with the book series, Bob ran the Soviet Industrialisation Project Seminar, which met at CREES several times a year on Wednesday evenings for many decades, and to which many of the ‘big names’ in our discipline were invited to give papers. Bob was also central to the General Editorial team of the CREES / Palgrave book series on Studies in Russian and East European History and Society, which came to publish over 70 volumes.

Bob supervised my MPhil (with Steve Wheatcroft, who also made a presentation at this seminar) and PhD (with Arfon Rees). I also worked alongside Bob as a research assistant for many years, collecting materials for inclusion in the manuscripts for his many volumes for publication, helping in running the SIPS programme, joining the editorial team of the Palgrave series and co-authoring papers. Most of all Bob is remembered as a generous mentor and friend, and someone who always gave encouragement to young scholars in the field. I like to think also that my own research on Soviet women had some influence on Bob’s own thinking about the Soviet industrialisation process.

Over dinner, we also marked the retirement of Arfon Rees, who has also made many valuable contributions to the study and promotion of Soviet (and Welsh) history. Like Bob, Arfon encouraged me to ensure that my own research has the rigour and depth that is seen in their own work. I owe a great academic debt to both of them.

The evening was a great nostalgic moment for many former and current members of CREES. We were reminded that for many years, graduates from CREES were to be found on the staff of most UK universities across a number of disciplines in the social sciences and that the Centre itself, founded in 1963, would not have existed without the efforts of Bob Davies.

Professor Melanie Ilic

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