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2012 Graduate Student Essay Prize

Committee: Margaret Beissinger, James Koranyi, and Paul Sum.

The Fourth Graduate Student Essay Award was presented at the 2012 ASEEES conference in New Orleans, LA to Jonathan Stillo (City University of New York) for his outstanding essay titled “We are the losers of Socialism”: Tuberculosis, Social Cases and Limits of Care in Romania’. A doctoral student in Cultural Anthropology at the City University of New York, Jonathan exposes the complex relationships between the state’s “social contract,” former middle-class industrial workers, and social care in post-1989 Romania. Based on two years of fieldwork, including a six-month stint living in a TB sanatorium, Jonathan presents a trenchant and revealing analysis of tuberculosis in post-socialist Romania. He effectively incorporates the testimonies of those affected by the social issues that surround tuberculosis in contemporary Romania, showcasing the disturbing and dismal plight of the victims of TB. The project that Jonathan has tackled is challenging, yet his findings are striking and indeed moving, as he places the individual voices of those who treat as well as endure TB at the very centre of his analyses. Jonathan introduces, for example, a fraught nurse in Northern Moldova attempting to help a middle-aged TB sufferer and alcoholic. He includes other equally harrowing narratives of broken individuals such as Tudor who, at the age of fifty, has been homeless for twelve years without any social network to support him. In short, Jonathan assembles a meticulously researched mosaic, which informs broader debates on health and society in contemporary post-socialist Europe and indeed the wider world. The research presented in this essay is much-needed and promises to generate additional work that will comprise important contributions to the field. The SRS Graduate Student Essay Prize committee was unanimous in selecting Jonathan’s work as the very best from a truly excellent array of submitted essays. It is clear from Jonathan’s findings and his writing that a great deal of both academic and emotional labour has gone into his work, and for this he is hugely deserving of the 2012 Graduate Student Essay Prize of the Society for Romanian Studies.


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