Maria Bucur, Heroes and Victims. Remembering War in Twentieth Century Romania (Indiana University Press, 2010).
Heroes and Victims explores the cultural power of war memorials in 20th-century Romania through two world wars and a succession of radical political changes—from attempts to create pluralist democratic political institutions after World War I to shifts toward authoritarian rule in the 1930s, to military dictatorships and Nazi occupation, to communist dictatorships, and finally to pluralist democracies with populist tendencies. Examining the interplay of centrally articulated and locally developed commemorations, Maria Bucur’s study engages monumental sites of memory, local funerary markers, rituals, and street names as well as autobiographical writings, novels, oral narratives, and film. This book reveals the ways in which a community’s religious, ethnic, economic, regional, and gender traditions shaped local efforts at memorializing its war dead. Maria Bucur is John W. Hill Chair in East European History and Associate Professor of History at Indiana University Bloomington. She is author of Eugenics and Modernization in Interwar Romania and editor (with Nancy M. Wingfield) of Gender and War in Twentieth-Century Eastern Europe (IUP, 2006).
What people are saying about it:
“In this superbly researched book, Bucur juxtaposes state-sponsored commemorative activities with localized, private memories. […] The book’s source-base, its theoretical sophistication and its wide-ranging scope make it an invaluable study in the way that communities and states work together—and independently—in remembering the past.” (Roland Clark, Cultural and Social History)
“Heroes and Victims demonstrates not only how individual, local, and national discourses of remembrance have operated in the complex geopolitical and ethnic world of 20th-century Romania but also how and why post-communist Romanians and others in the 21st century have moved to a post-memory discourse.” (Melissa Bokovoy, University of New Mexico)
“An important book by one of the major emerging voices in east European studies.” (Charles King, Georgetown University)
“[A] historical tour de force, compellingly written and powerfully demonstrated. … Bucur’s truly illuminating study explores the Romanians’ tortuously dramatic efforts to accomplish a long-delayed coming to terms with their past.” (Slavic Review)
“An engaging read, written in an elegant style accessible to both academics and non academics, this volume will be of interest to historians, scholars of Romanian history and politics, as well as anthropologists and sociologists alike.” (European Legacy)
“[Bucur] is to be congratulated on a superb piece of scholarship which both sheds light on existing questions and raises important new ones. As such it can be recommended to teachers and researchers alike.” (European History Quarterly)
“[T]this is an ambitious book that effectively straddles disciplines, historical eras, and analytical levels. The data are remarkably comprehensive for such a difficult theme. Bucur’s narrative tells a complex story that few historians of Eastern and Central Europe could handle in such a sophisticated manner.” (Canadian American Slavic Studies)
“This is an ambitious and important contribution to the field of European memory studies and the study of war and its commemoration in the twentieth century.” (Women’s Studies International Forum)
Diana Dumitru, The State, Antisemitism, and Collaboration in the Holocaust: The Borderlands of Romania and the Soviet Union, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016.
Based on original sources, this important new book on the Holocaust explores regional variations in civilians’ attitudes and behavior toward the Jewish population in Romania and the occupied Soviet Union. Gentiles’ willingness to assist Jews was greater in lands that had been under Soviet administration during the interwar period, while gentiles’ willingness to harm Jews occurred more in lands that had been under Romanian administration during the same period. While acknowledging the disasters of Communist rule in the 1920s and 1930s, this work shows the effectiveness of Soviet nationalities policy in the official suppression of antisemitism. This book offers a corrective to the widespread consensus that homogenizes gentile responses throughout Eastern Europe, instead demonstrating that what states did in the interwar period mattered; relations between social groups were not fixed and destined to repeat themselves, but rather fluid and susceptible to change over time.
What people are saying about it:
“Dumitru’s multifaceted, detailed description of the still under-researched events in Bessarabia and Transnistria is based on many previously untapped sources. Her attempts […] have unearthed a lot of facts about Jewish history in the region. The book is thus a pioneering comparative work that furthers research on a hitherto neglected part of the Shoah.” (Markus Bauer, H-Net Reviews)
“Can states school their citizens for genocide? Does valuing cultural diversity, by contrast, create a lasting buffer against state-organized violence? Diana Dumitru’s thesis is provocative: that the Soviet ideology of ‘friendship of peoples’ attenuated popular antisemitism. Using the Romanian-Soviet borderland as a kind of natural experiment, Dumitru finds substantial differences between how neighboring populations in Romania and the USSR viewed their Jewish neighbors. Dumitru’s work will open new debates about the power of political choice in determining the course of the Holocaust in different lands.” (Charles King, author of Odessa: Genius and Death in a City of Dreams)
”Dumitriu’s history shows the incredible power of the state’s rhetoric and regulations to shape the attitudes and beliefs of its citizenry. This is a shocking and essential story for scholars of Central and Eastern Europe.” (Kate Brown, author of A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland)
”The Holocaust in Bessarabia and Transnistria is much less familiar than that in Poland and the Baltic states, while by many accounts it was just as bestial. Diana Dumitru’s research explores an even less familiar reality: that Stalin’s totalitarianism fostered a climate that was relatively benevolent toward the Jews by comparison with the hostility fostered by the more traditional authoritarianism of Romania. In bringing to the surface this apparent irony, she demonstrates how the Holocaust remains an inexhaustible field of study, which continues to shed a revealing and troubling light on our present.” (Robert D. Kaplan, author of Balkan Ghosts: A Journey through History, and In Europe’s Shadow: Two Cold Wars and a Thirty-Year Journey through Romania and Beyond)
”Diana Dumitru’s important contribution to the burgeoning study of the Holocaust in the East demonstrates convincingly that Transnistrian Moldova, under Soviet rule from 1918 to 1940, witnessed far less collaboration than did Bessarabian Moldova, under Romanian rule. Her argument that Soviet internationalism explains this difference is an important challenge to both Holocaust Studies and Soviet history.” (Terry Martin, author of Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923‒1939)
Margaret Beissinger, Speranța Rădulescu, Anca Giurchescu, eds., Manele in Romania: Cultural Expression and Social Meaning in Balkan Popular Music, Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
This edited volume examines manele (sing. manea), an urban Romanian song-dance ethnopop genre that combines local traditional and popular music with Balkan and Middle Eastern elements. The genre is performed primarily by male Romani musicians at weddings and clubs and appeals especially to Romanian and Romani youth. It became immensely popular after the collapse of communism, representing for many the newly liberated social conditions of the post-1989 world. But manele have also engendered much controversy among the educated and professional elite, who view the genre as vulgar and even “alien” to the Romanian national character. The essays collected here examine the “manea phenomenon” as a vibrant form of cultural expression that engages in several levels of social meaning, all informed by historical conditions, politics, aesthetics, tradition, ethnicity, gender, class, and geography.
What people are saying about it:
„Manele in Romania provides the first comprehensive analysis of one of the most controversial, but also one of the most dynamic popular music genres to emerge on the Romanian music scene during the past thirty years, a genre whose roots extend, however, as far as the 19th century, as several of the contributors to the volume claim. […]For students of post-1989 Southeast Europe and Romania, this volume might well serve as an alternative history textbook, its often specialized terminology notwithstanding. For scholars of the region, as well as for those dealing with broader issues, such as the interrelation between music genres and society, Westernization, Orientalism, national identity de construction, the book under review is bound to become an indispensable, or, at least, a highly valuable reference.” (Claudiu Oancea, MARTOR)