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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Professor Wins $200,000 For Research Into Western Aid

An American anthropologist who has spent more than a decade assembling research critical of U.S. foreign aid to Russia and Eastern Europe has won a $200,000 academic prize for her work.

Janine Wedel, a professor with the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, was on Thursday to be awarded the University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order for 2001.

Wedel’s work was chosen from among 51 nominations and represents groundbreaking research and writing on how the U.S. government, via the U.S. Agency for International Development, used aid money in the early and mid-1990s to support the programs and careers of Anatoly Chubais and his allies.

Writing in The Nation, an American weekly magazine, and also in her book "Collision and Collusion: The Strange Case of Western Aid to Eastern Europe 1989-1998," Wedel has also been a vocal critic of USAID’s relationship with the Harvard Institute for International Development.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a legal suit in September against two principal scholars at Harvard University and their wives. The scholars were accused of gaining profits while being under a contract from USAID to provide economic and legal advice for privatization in Russia.

Wedel said in a telephone interview from Washington that she thought the problems in Russian-American foreign aid relationships that she had written of were far from unique.

"With the ongoing processes of globalization, the nationality of actors is becoming increasingly irrelevant," Wedel said. "And global elite who have more connections to one another and fewer to the nation state see themselves not as much as American or Russian, but as members of an exclusive club."