Home » What we do
Category Archives: What we do
SRS awards two prizes: the biennial Book Award and the annual Graduate Student Essay Prize. Please scroll down for the winners of the two prizes.
2021 Book Prize
The Society for Romanian Studies invites nominations for the Sixth Biennial SRS Book Prize awarded for the best scholarly book published in English in the humanities or social sciences, on any subject relating to Romania or Moldova and their diasporas. To be eligible, books must have been published between 1 January 2019 and 31 December 2020 as indicated by the copyright date. Books may be in any academic field, with a predominant focus on Romanian or Moldovan subject matter (including subjects relating to the activities of non-Romanian ethnic groups on Romanian or Moldovan territory). Edited books, translations, reprints or new editions of works published before 2019, and non-scholarly books are not eligible.
The prize carries with it an award of $800. Either authors or publishers of books may make submissions. Submissions should be sent to the SRS prize committee by 1 June 2021.
Three copies of each submitted book should be sent by mail, one copy directly to each committee member at the addresses below. Questions or inquiries can be sent to the committee chair, Dragoş Petrescu, via email at email@example.com The award will be announced in October 2021.
SRS Book Prize Committee Members:
|Dragoș PETRESCU (Chair)|
|Professor of Comparative Politics Department of Political Science University of Bucharest Mailing address: Str. Șipotul Fântânilor Nr. 2, Sc. A, Ap. 22 Sector 1, 010157 Bucharest. ROMANIA|
|Reader in Communication Department of Creative Arts Edge Hill University St Helen’s Road, Ormskirk L39 4QP, UK|
|Senior Lecturer in Anthropology University College London Mailing address: 76 Chobham Road, London E15 1LZ, UK|
2021 Graduate Student Essay Prize
The Society for Romanian Studies (SRS) is pleased to announce the Thirteenth Annual Graduate Student Essay Prize competition for an outstanding unpublished essay or thesis chapter. The submitted single-author work must be written in English by a graduate student in any social science or humanities discipline on a Romanian or Moldovan subject, broadly and inclusively understood.
The 2021 prize consists of $250 plus an individual, one-year membership to SRS that includes a subscription to the journal, valued at $75. The second-place award of honorable mention includes a one-year subscription to the journal.
The competition is open to current MA and doctoral students or to those who defended dissertations in the academic year 2020–2021. The submitted work should have been completed within the last two academic years and should not have been published yet. If the essay is a dissertation chapter, it should be accompanied by the dissertation abstract and table of contents. Expanded versions of conference papers are also acceptable if accompanied by a description of the panel and the candidate’s conference paper proposal. Candidates should clearly indicate the format of the essay submitted. Essays/chapters should be up to 10,000 words double-spaced, including citations.
Candidates should clearly indicate their institutional affiliation. Include as well your current e-mail and postal addresses so that you may be contacted. Questions can be directed to the chair of the committee, Narcis Tulbure, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please send a copy of the essay, any accompanying documentation (as both Word and PDF please) and an updated CV to email@example.com
Applicants are not required to be members of SRS in order to apply.
Deadline for submissions is 15 July 2021. The winners will be announced on 1 November 2021.
SRS Essay Prize Committee Members:
Corina Doboș The Research Institute of the University of Bucharest (ICUB), University of Bucharest firstname.lastname@example.org
Simona Livescu Academic Advancement Program University of California, Los Angeles email@example.com
Narcis Tulbure (chair) Department of Finance Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Romania firstname.lastname@example.org
Winner: Cosmin Koszor Codrea (Oxford Brookes University)
Honorable Mention: Cosmin Tudor Minea (University of Birmingham)
Winner: Bruce O’Neill, The Space of Boredom: Homelessness in the Slowing Global Order (Duke University Press, 2017).
Honorable Mention: Irina Marin, Peasant Violence and Antisemitism in Early Twentieth-Century Eastern Europe (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018).
Winner: Adela Hîncu (Central European University)
Honorable Mention: Elena Radu
Winner: Alexandra Chiriac (University of St. Andrews)
Honorable Mentions: Nicoleta Simonia Minciu, Iemima Ploscariu (Dublin City University), and Matthew Signer (Stanford University)
Winner: Roland Clark, Holy Legionary Youth: Fascist Activism in Interwar Romania (Cornell University Press, 2015).
Honorable Mentions: Virginia Hill and Gabriela Alboiu, Verb Movement and Clause Structure in Old Romanian (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), Dennis Deletant, British Clandestine Activities in Romania During the Second World War (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), and Ştefan Ionescu, Jewish Resistance to Romanianization (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).
Winner: Dana Mureşan
Special Mentions: Kathryn Grow Allen (University of Buffalo), Alin Rus (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) and Karin Steinbrueck (Northwestern University)
2016 Graduate Student Essay Prize
No prize awarded.
Winner: Sean Cotter, Literary Translation and the Idea of a Minor Romania (Rochester, 2014).
Honorable Mention: Moshe Idel, Mircea Eliade: From Magic to Myth (Peter Lang, 2013).
Winner: Matei Costinescu (University of Bucharest)
Honorable Mentions: Madalina Vereş (University of Pittsburgh) and Zsuzsanna Magdo (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Winner: Roxana Cazan (Indiana University, Bloomington)
Winner: Gail Kligman and Katherine Verdery, Peasants under Siege: the Collectivization of Romanian Agriculture, 1949-1962 (Princeton University Press, 2011).
Winner: Florin Poenaru (Central European University)
Winner: Jonathan Stillo (City University of New York)
Winner: Tom Gallagher, Romania and the European Union: How the Weak Vanquished the Strong (Manchester University Press, 2009)
Winner: Cristina Onose (University of Toronto)
Winner: Anca Mandru (University of Illinois)
Winner: Roland Clark (University of Pittsburgh)
Cristian Cercel, Romania and the Quest for European Identity. Philo-germanism without Germans, London and New York, Routledge, 2019.
Exploring the largely positive representations of Romanian Germans predominating in post-1989 Romanian society, this book shows that the underlying reasons for German prestige are strongly connected with Romania’s endeavors to become European. […] Cercel argues that representations of Germans in Romania, descendants of twelfth-century and eighteenth-century colonists, become actually a symbolic resource for asserting but also questioning Romania’s European identity. Such representations link Romania’s much-desired European belonging with German presence, whilst German absence is interpreted as a sign of veering away from Europe. Investigating this case of discursive “self-colonization” and this apparent symbolic embrace of the German Other in Romania, the book offers a critical study of the discourses associated with Romania’s postcommunist “Europeanization” to contribute a better understanding of contemporary West-East relationships in the European context.”
(from the publisher’s web page)
What people are saying about it:
”[The] book […] marks an important step forward in understanding complex processes such as Europeanization, cultural interaction, and social change. Beginning with the subtitle, Cercel put[s] forward a puzzling problem when it comes to explaining […]philo-Germanism without Germans in Romania. By emphasizing this issue, Cercel attempts to grasp a very broad perspective by moving from the peculiar electoral curiosity of ethnic Romanians electing a German candidate in a medium-size town in Transylvania, to the way westernization and Europeanization concur in shaping Romanian identity. The preference for an ethnic German candidate in a city almost deserted by its German-speaking citizens sheds light on the broader phenomenon of intimate self-colonization, fueled by a power discourse on the shaping of Romanian identity as forged by numerous interactions and representations in a very complex ethnic, social, and political environment. […] The current philo-Germanism without Germans is strongly connected with Romanian aspirations toward Europeanization, an effort to overcome cultural, social, and political dilemmas of being caught between east and west.” (Dragoș Dragoman, Slavic Review)
”The volume informs […] readers about the German–Romanian relationship in the turbulent postsocialist years. The richness of detail and their careful contextualization helps readers to form an accurate image of these relationships. […]Cercel argues that it was the treatment under communist rule that led Germans to acquire an exaggerated sense of victimhood, which after 1990 became the driving force of their ‘exodus’ from Romania. Deserted Saxon and Swabian villages in Southern Transylvania are proof of this, as is the acute nostalgia expressed in the media by many ethnic Romanian intellectuals. The latter is interpreted by Cercel, throughout the volume, using the theoretical framework of “self-orientalization.” With this concept Cercel aims to explain the intellectuals’ deep admiration for the Western model of modernization during the 19th and 20th centuries. This idolization then led, he maintains, to their rejecting any model that might have ultimately proven to be better suited to describe Romania’s society.” (Stelu Şerban, Südosteuropa)
”This is an original work which examines the political and cultural expression of a Romanian nostalgia for the German past and the former presence of Germans in Romania.“ (Margit Feischmidt, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
”[Cristian] Cercel pune cu succes în lumină aspectele subiective care au stat la baza reprezentării unei comunități generice a germanilor din România care în perioada ultimilor 30 de ani – de altfel epicentrul cronologic al studiului de față – s-a aflat, în mare parte, relocată în Germania, altfel spus o comunitate cu o existență diasporică, beneficiară a unei alterității idealist – pozitivate și ca urmare a opțiunii de a se salva prin exil într-un stat de același neam. Aspectele socio-economice care au stat în spatele recuperării nostalgice și eminamente pozitive a germanului au fost condiționate de această relocalizare a germanilor din România în acest puternic stat central european asociat de români cu prosperitatea, progresul și implicit cu proiectul european. În această constelație de factori trebuie înțeles „filo-germanismul fără germani” al românilor. Cum bine arată autorul acestui studiu, dubla asociere/afinitate simbolică a germanilor locuind cândva în teritoriile actualului stat român modern cu „patria” (Heimat), respectiv, cu statele germane central europene, a fost o trăsătură a imaginii de sine încă din discursurile promovate de către membrii acestor grupuri chiar din veacurile anterioare. Această dublă afiliere le-a conferit, mai mereu, un capital de imagine în mediul românesc chiar și în situații mai contondente (ca perioada postbelică marcată de deportări pe criteriul etnic) lucru confirmat de faptul că diverși decidenți politici români nu au fost adepții unor discursuri denigratoare de lungă durată.” (Marian Zăloagă, Anuarul Institutului de Cercetări Socio-Umane „Gheorghe Şincai”)
About the author:
Cristian Cercel is currently a researcher with the Institute for Social Movements at Ruhr University Bochum. He has a BA in European Studies (University of Bucharest), an MA in Nationalism Studies (Central European University), and a PhD in Politics (Durham University). Before his current appointment, he held research positions and fellowships at several institutions, including New Europe College (Bucharest), the Centre for Contemporary German Culture at Swansea University, and the Centre for Advanced Study (Sofia). He has published in refereed academic journals such as Nationalities Papers, East European Politics and Societies and Cultures, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and History and Memory. He is also active as a translator from German and Italian into Romanian.
More information about Dr. Cercel is available at:
Maria Bucur, Eroi și victime. România și memoria celor două războaie mondiale, Iași: Polirom, 2019.
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, Vecini în vremuri de restriște. Stat, antisemitism și Holocaust în Basarabia și Transnistria, Iași: Polirom, 2019.
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)
”Dumitru’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)
Cristina Văţulescu, Cultură şi poliţie secretă în comunism, Iasi: Polirom, 2018.
The documents emerging from the secret police archives of the former Soviet bloc have caused scandal after scandal, compromising revered cultural figures and abruptly ending political careers. Police Aesthetics offers a revealing and responsible approach to such materials. Taking advantage of the partial opening of the secret police archives in Russia and Romania, Vătulescu focuses on their most infamous holdings—the personal files—as well as on movies the police sponsored, scripted, or authored. Through the archives, she gains new insights into the writing of literature and raises new questions about the ethics of reading. She shows how police files and films influenced literature and cinema, from autobiographies to novels, from high-culture classics to avant-garde experiments and popular blockbusters. In so doing, she opens a fresh chapter in the heated debate about the relationship between culture and politics in twentieth-century police states.
What people are saying about it:
“Vatulescu insightfully draws upon archival material from both Russia and Romania to shed valuable light on the way the secret police informed—or in formed on, as the case may be—artists of the era . . . Although her subject matter lies in a shadowy, politicized realm located somewhere between ‘subversion and complicity,’ Vatulescu provides her readers with much needed illumination of that murky penumbral realm.” (Tim Harte, Slavic Review)
“In this fascinating and ambitious study, Cristina Vatulescu examines secret-police files, surveillance methods, and interrogation techniques in the Soviet era, and the impact of resulting ”police aesthetics” on writers and films directors. Like a good mystery novelist, Vatulescu draws us into rooms forbidden to the average reader – courtrooms, interrogation rooms, and secret police archives – creating and image of Soviet culture that is at odds, as herself asserts, with easy binary oppositions. Instead, she presents us with a complex network of imagery and associations that underlies texts from the Soviet period, ranging from police files to underground novels.” (Eric Laursen, Slavic and East European Journal)
“Police Aesthetics most deservedly received the Barbara Heldt Prize in 2011: Vatulescu opens up new lines of investigation (to stay within the police jargon) for a reading of the relationship between fact and fiction in Stalinist culture.” (Birgit Beumers, Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema)
“Vatulescu’s outstanding book focuses on the fate of the unregimented creative intelligentsia in Stalin’s Russia and Stalinized Romania, the interplay between artistic creation and police supervision, coercion, and persecution. Drawing from secret police archives in Russia and Romania, this superbly researched and original book captures the tragic destinies of major artists caught at what Lionel Trilling called the bloody crossroads where politics and literature meet.” (Vladimir Tismăneanu, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History)
“This is a very important, groundbreaking book, one of the most original and illuminating works I have seen in recent years in comparative Slavic studies. Police Aesthetics will unquestionably position Cristina Vatulescu as one of the foremost scholars of Soviet culture.” (Catharine Nepomnyashchy, Columbia University)
“Rarely have I encountered a book that managed to incorporate original archival research (and what findings!), new work in history, literary, and film theory, and close analysis in such a clear and compelling way.” (John MacKay, Yale University)
“Sunt trei domenii, deci, convocate, pentru a intra, în sumă, cumva „prin lateral“ într-o tematică deloc demodată (chiar dacă, aparent, ea aparține, istoric, mai degrabă de secolul trecut): literatura, filmul și narațiunile despre poliția secretă. Urmarea acestei atât de fecunde intersecții e un studiu și o carte așa cum, pentru mine, nu e niciun dubiu, nu avem în românește. Mai precis: nu aveam până la acest volum.” (Cristian Patrasconiu, 22)
“Volumul – impresionat și ca efort de documentare, și în privința liniilor de discurs atins, și ca ipoteze de cercetare propuse (și foarte bine argumentate) – sta la umbra unui citat oarecum misterios și, în orice caz, intrigant din ”Vorbește, memorie” a lui Vl. Nabokov … Foarte pe scurt: nu aveam un studiu pe această tematică de asemenea finețe, anvergură și cuprindeere. De acum îl avem – și este foarte bine că e așa. (Cristian Patrasconiu, Banatul Azi)
What people are saying about it:
“This new book… brings together timely contributions from younger and more established scholars from two continents that shed fresh light on the evolution of the fledgling Romanian democracy after 1989. It reminds us that Romania’s image and transition to democracy must be linked to the absence of market reforms and the lack of a vibrant civil society under communism. The book also demonstrates that the rapid proliferation of political parties after December 1989 brought about a weak form of pluralism that was not conducive to genuine political competition. The new political parties had weak constituencies, little grass-roots support, and lacked well-defined doctrines and internal discipline. The volume also points out several directions in which Romania must still make progress in order to catch up with its neighbors in the West. It will be of interest to political scientists, sociologists, and historians as well as to those studying Eastern Europe and transitions to democracy.” (Aurelian Crăiuţu, Indiana University, Bloomington)
“This timely volume marks the 25th anniversary of the collapse of the communist regime in Romania and explores the evolution of Romanian democracy by addressing the social and institutional development of the country since 1989. The editors have selected key themes which guide us on Romania’s democratic journey, and the contributors to the volume are some of the best scholars on Romania, providing important insights to the country’s political transformation. For anyone interested in understanding Romania’s democratic transition and the role that state, non-state and international actors have played, this is a must read.” (Steven D. Roper, Nazarbayev University, Astana, Kazakhstan)
“Scholars in transition and Europeanization will find plenty of useful data, and the book is highly informative, yet accessible enough for a wider readership. At the same time, for all its ambition of a symbolic (self-)assessment and critical reflection, I cannot imagine a potentially more interested audience than the Romanian public itself—for this book raises fundamental questions of interest to anyone who cares about democracy. “(Nicolae–Emanuel Dobrei, National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania)
“A comprehensive view of Romania 25 years after the collapse of Ceausescu’s regime…The chapters present first-rate scholarship from some of the experts in this area and a great deal of methodological diversity as well. The diversity in methods and content is a definitive strength of the book…Though the focus of the book is on Romania, much is applicable to the other post-Communist countries in the region.” (J. R. Clardie, Northwest Nazarene University)
“Several of these chapters provide an original extension of the existing academic literature, and the volume itself yields probably the fullest picture of Romania’s post-communist evolution. It is an instructive read for anyone interested in the country’s recent past.” (Endre Borbath, European University Institute, Italy)
“O singură observație, sumară și în registru pozitiv, despre această carte care ar merita multe serii și tipuri de dezbateri: alături de alte titluri cu tematică similară (dar nu foarte multe – și, semnificativ, bună parte dintre ele realizate de autori care sunt în SRS sau care gravitează în jurul acestei organizații), România postcomunistă – prezent, trecut și viitor e un redutabil, rafinat, remarcabil și, cred, de neocolit manual de istorie contemporană a României.” (Cristian Patrasconiu, 22)
“The book gathers an impressive list of well-known scholars of Romanian studies, mostly from universities and research centers in the USA, the United Kingdom, and Canada … The present volume exceeds the value of many other previous contributions from Romania.” (Florin Anghel, Analele Universitatii Ovidius din Constanta – Seria Stiinte Politice)
Alex Drace-Francis, Geneza culturii române moderne. Instituțiile scrisului și dezvoltarea identității naționale, 1700-1900. Iaşi: Polirom, 2016.
How do literacy and the development of literary culture promote the development of a national identity? This well-researched and readable book explores the rise of Romanian-language literary, educational and printing institutions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, bringing out a story that has not been fully explored in English. He builds on and engages with current knowledge about print culture, modernization, national identity and state formation, to make an original contribution to ongoing debates in these areas. Alex Drace-Francis is an Associate Professor of Literary and Cultural History of Modern Europe at the University of Amsterdam.
What people are saying about it:
“An enormously erudite study… [F]or anyone interested in the origins of modern Romanian literary production and education in the context of the Enlightenment, modernization, and state-formation this is an indispensable book.” (Irina Livezeanu, Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies)
“Alex Drace-Francis has produced a highly accurate and often outstandingly subtle piece of research. This British scholar observes things that his Romanian colleagues, being too familiar with them, have tended to gloss over.” (Ovidiu Pecican, Observator Cultural)
“Solid and extremely well informed, Alex Drace-Francis’s book not only brings together a great mass of information and hypotheses, but also asks important questions about a cultural legacy whose investigation is still plagued by stereotypes.” (Mircea Anghelescu, Romanian Review of Book History)
“Admirably balanced in its critical use of sources, perfectly mature in discussing a difficult topic, Drace-Francis’s book is an exceptionally insightful and stimulating analysis of emergent Romanian modernity and a model for future approaches.” (Doris Mironescu, Slavonic and East European Review)
“Drace-Francis has a knack of raising your intellectual game without leaving you fumbling for the ball. His occasional wit is dry but playful. If you know anyone who loves Romania enough to dig deep into its intellectual soil, the roots are here.” (Mike Ormsby, author of Never Mind the Balkans – Here’s Romania)
Roland Clark. Sfântă tinereţe legionară. Activismul fascist în România interbelic. Iaşi: Polirom, 2015.
Founded in 1927, Romania’s Legion of the Archangel Michael was one of Europe’s largest and longest-lived fascist social movements. In Holy Legionary Youth, Clark draws on oral histories, memoirs, and substantial research in the archives of the Romanian secret police to provide the most comprehensive account of the Legion in English to date. Clark approaches Romanian fascism by asking what membership in the Legion meant to young Romanians. Viewing fascism “from below,” as a social category with practical consequences for those who embraced it, he shows how the personal significance of fascism emerged out of Legionaries’ interactions with each other, the state, other political parties, families, friends, and fascist groups abroad. Official repression, fascist spectacle, and the frequency and nature of legionary activities changed a person’s everyday activities and relationships in profound ways. Clark’s sweeping history traces fascist organizing in interwar Romania to nineteenth-century grassroots nationalist movements that demanded political independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It also shows how closely the movement was associated with the Romanian Orthodox Church and how the uniforms, marches, and rituals were inspired by the muscular, martial aesthetic of fascism elsewhere in Europe. Although antisemitism was a key feature of official fascist ideology, state violence against Legionaries rather than the extensive fascist violence against Jews had a far greater impact on how Romanians viewed the movement and their role in it. Approaching fascism in interwar Romania as an everyday practice, Holy Legionary Youth offers a new perspective on European fascism, highlighting how ordinary people “performed” fascism by working together to promote a unique and totalizing social identity.
“Roland Clark’s Sfântă tinereţe legionară is a truly remarkable book. … Without detracting from the movement’s criminal nature, Clark’s book brings to our attention their sincere idealism and thirst for spiritual fulfillment. In this way, he helps us better understand not only this movement’s appeal in the interwar and World War II periods but also the endurance of Legionaries’ myth in Romania today.” (Vladimir Solonari, H-Net, 3 March 2016 )
“Clark tries to immerse himself in the lives of the legionaries. He is interested in the Legionary “everyday,” in the experiences of Codreanu’s followers. The everyday is defined in such a way that the “willingness to make sacrifices for the national battle” against the “Jews” and the “system” lifts up the everyday and permanently exults it. If my reading is correct, one must affiliate oneself with the Legion as if it was a “drug”: activity replaces helplessness; building activities; demonstrations; only the unutterable can be uttered; music; lyrics; parades; discussions. Whoever wants to join the Legion cannot complain about lacking employment, excitement, or appreciation.” (Armin Heinen, H/Soz/Kult, 15 August 2015)
“Holy Legionary Youth is more than just a book about the meaning of fascism for rank-and-file activists in the legionary movement; its achievement is a social history of the Iron Guard, an organization that is considered to be among “the biggest fascist movements in Europe (p. 15) in terms of the number of members per capita. Roland Clark is interested in how fascism transformed the lives of ordinary people, and it is no accident that the book begins with the funeral of a young girl from Craiova, Maria Cristescu, a teenage sympathizer of the legionary movement: her funeral mobilized hundreds of people in a ceremony with specifically legionary motifs, including political ones.” (Cristian Vasile, Contributors.ro, 13 September 2015)
“Clark quickly and distinctively differentiates his book from other histories of the Legion. For the first time we have a study that analyzes the legionary movement not just, or even primarily, in terms of its leaders or in terms of the major events that punctuated its birth, rise, and fall. We have in this book one of the most ‘colorful,’ nuanced, and dense works on the subject.” (Cristian Patrasconiu, Revista 22, 1 September 2015).
“Highly interdisciplinary, analytically comprehensive, and informed by a prodigious array of both primary sources and secondary literature, Clark’s book is a much-awaited reading for researchers, university professors, and students alike.” (Ionut Biliuta, Hungarian Historical Review, 5/1 (2015): 194-196).
“Clark’s book offers a comprehensive reinterpretation of the interwar Legionary movement from the perspective of the history of everyday social life. Moving away from abstract paradigms of ‘the nature of Romanian fascism’, Clark tells us more about what the Legionaries actually did (and did not) do, using a large number of new archival sources…Especially impressive is the way Clark situates interwar Romanian political phenomena in the context of broader paradigms of international social, cultural, political and religious history; and brings the topic up to date with a closing reflection on the memory of Legionary activity in post-war and present-day Romanian society. For the breadth and depth of its analysis, its rich documentation and clear writing style, Clark’s work stands out against a very strong field.” (The 2017 SRS Book Award Committee)
Vladimir Solonari. Purificarea națiunii: dislocări forțate de populație și epurări etnice în România lui Ion Antonescu, 1940-1944. Iaşi: Polirom, 2015.
“Solonari shows how in the southern border zone with Bulgaria, Bessarabia, and above all in the occupied southern Ukraine, the Romanian leadership shunted people around and massacred them with an energy that left even Germans astonished.” (Mark Mazower, Times Literary Supplement)
“Purifying the Nation makes a major contribution to the literature on ethnic cleansing during World War II. … The Antonescu government consisted of personalities from a range of parties, not just the military. Antonescu himself and the number two man in his government, Mihai Antonescu, had been pro-western before becoming “realists” and seizing the Hitlerian moment in order to purify Romania and reclaim territories taken by the Soviets in 1940. Solonari’s argument is thus aimed at the Romanian right and public opinion more broadly, and not just at “Marshall Antonescu.” (Irina Livezeanu, Slavic Review)
“Carefully researched and exhaustively documented, Purifying the Nation is a fine piece of scholarship and an invaluable contribution to our knowledge of this dark period.” (Peter Sherwood, Holocaust and Genocide Studies)
“Vladimir Solonari’s book about Romania from the late 1930s to 1944 is a very major addition to the scholarship on the subject.” (Daniel Chirot, Journal of Modern History)
Solonari’s book “is by far the best account of genocide and ethnic cleansing under the Antonescu regime.” (Stanley G. Payne, The International History Review)
“Solonari’s work is exciting to read and his thesis is vigorously argued. The material is well organized into chapters, with a good narrative and excellent illustrations…” (Alex Drace-Francis, European History Quarterly)
“The conclusion of this book [that the Romanian program of ethnic purification had its roots in Romania’s own interwar radical nationalist thought rather than in Nazi doctrine] is memorable and worth our careful and honest reflection.” (Cristian Pătrășconiu, Revista 22, 1 September 2015).
“Vladimir Solonari’s book is more than a history of the Holocaust in Romania. This book makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of the way the modern Romanian nation was built in relation to its ethnic minorities…. It is a call to remember, and it is addressed not only to erudite professional historians but to all of us. Let’s listen to it with the attention and seriousness it deserves.” (Petru Negură, Observator cultural, May 13, 2016).
The Society for Romanian Studies is launching a new mentoring program that pairs scholars at different stages of their careers or in different parts of the world to facilitate mutually beneficial discussions and communication. Junior scholars gain local information formally from their supervisors and informally from others they come into contact with. Informal mentorship is particularly important for students and scholars working in the West whose primary supervisors are not themselves specialists in Romania and Moldova. Similarly, students and scholars based in Eastern Europe will find it beneficial to establish informal relationships with their colleagues abroad, with whom they can discuss disciplinary trends and other questions of mutual interest. Mentoring also benefits senior scholars by helping them stay abreast of new literatures and trends in the field as well as providing insights into other universities and other countries.
The purpose of the SRS Mentoring Program is to provide SRS members with invaluable support and established scholars the opportunity to help shape the future of the field and support new research. Responsibility for making the mentoring relationship work rests with the individual mentor/mentee, but the SRS acts as a sponsoring organization that matches mentors and mentees and suggests parameters for the relationship. The SRS aims at facilitating formal mentoring initiatives in cases where mentors and mentees do not know each other, have no clear understanding of their current expertise areas, and need help to connect.
Mentoring relationships may either be established around specific, short-term goals, such as writing a book proposal or developing strategies for acceptance into graduate schools, or may involve a series of discussions career trajectories, publication plans, accessing libraries, archives, or fellowships, or other issues of mutual interest to the mentor and mentee. Individual pairs should agree on the nature and longevity of the commitment, but we envisage that most mentoring relationships will involve several informal conversations over a period of six months.
If you are willing to consider becoming a mentor, could you please fill out a short form here. Your bio (but not your contact details) will then be available online for potential mentees.
For further details please contact Roland Clark (email@example.com) or any of the other members of the Mentoring Committee:
Margaret Beissinger (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Petru Negură (email@example.com)
Robert Ives (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Cristina Plămădeală (email@example.com)
Anca Şincan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Society for Romanian Studies publishes a regular, semi-annual, newsletter to keep its members and associates informed of goings on in the field. The newsletter is distributed in electronic form only. Subscribers to H-Romania and our Facebook friends are notified once a new issue is published, usually in November and April each year.
Please send news of your publications, moves, graduations, advancement, conferences, and life events to the Newsletter Editor:
- Leah Valtin-Erwin, PhD student in History and President of the Romanian Studies Organization at Indiana University Bloomington: email@example.com
To read current and past issues of the SRS Newsletter in PDF format, please click on the links below:
The Society for Romanian Studies is involved in a variety of activities and programs, and you can too. We offer two prizes, publish a book series in collaboration with Polirom as well as the Journal of Romanian Studies in collaboration with Ibidem Press, maintain a mentorship program, distribute our biannual Newsletter, maintain links with a number of other scholarly organizations, and organize an international conference in Romania every three years. The Society celebrated its 45th anniversary in 2018, a momentous event we marked with the “45 for 45” interviews series published in the acclaimed LaPunkt.
Please choose one of the links below to find out more!
R. Chris Davis
(Lone Star College-Kingwood),
(Texas State University),
(San Diego State University),
(Ovidius University of Constanta)
The Ninth Annual SRS Graduate Student Essay Prize is awarded to the most outstanding unpublished essay or thesis chapter written in English by a graduate student in any social science or humanities discipline on a Romanian subject during the long academic year 2016–17. The prize committee received over twenty essays from a wide range of disciplines, submitted by graduate students and recent graduates from across North America, Europe, and Asia. The committee debated the merits of many prize-worthy essays. In the end, one essay stood above the others. It is with great pleasure that the committee awards this year’s Graduate Student Essay Prize to Dana Muresan for her essay “Brancusi: The Construction of a Romanian National Hero.”
Muresan’s well-researched and highly sophisticated essay examines through the lens of Brancusi the complex relationship of art and nationalism. It explores the role of Romania in the formation of Brancusi’s universal modern art and, in turn, the role of Brancusi and his art in the formation of Romanian identity and promotion of national culture. In particular, Muresan addresses the value the Romanian state derived from claiming Bransuci as a national hero, as a cultural symbol combining historic identity and contemporary sophistication. Yet this appropriation explicitly could not include full appreciation for the content of the work, given that Brancusi the émigré was producing art that was distinctly non-socialist in theme and format. The paper beautifully explores this contradiction, especially as it played out in official Romanian artistic discourse, highlighting both statements and silences of that official discourse. All at once, Muresan reflects on the legacy of Brancusi’s biography and art in both Romania and Paris; widens the analytical frame of Romanian identity discourses; and makes a significant contribution to an array of scholarly fields, including nationalism studies, identity studies, and art history, among others. Equally important to the committee, the essay showcases the field of Romanian Studies in an international context. Finally, Muresan achieves something very rare in academic writing these days, namely the ability to communicate ideas to specialists and non-specialists alike.
The committee felt three other finalists from this year’s competition deserved special mention: Kathryn Grow Allen’s “Migration, Conversion and the Creation of an Identity in Southeast Europe: A Biological Distance and Strontium Isotope Analysis of Ottoman Communities in Romania, Hungary and Croatia”; Alin Rus’s “‘Building’ Cultural Patrimony in Ceaușescu’s Neopatrimonial Romania”; and Karin Steinbrueck’s “Aftershocks: Nicolae Ceaușescu and the Romanian Communist Regime’s Responses to the 1977 Earthquake.” The quality and diversity of this year’s submissions certainly bodes well for the future of Romanian studies.
We want to encourage you to start using H-Romania exclusively. Please begin to migrate to H-Romania. In the meantime, we will keep this page to provide a smooth transition, but it will not remain forever.
You are invited to join the News from the Society for Romanian Studies E-mail List, which is made available through Google Groups. Anyone who is interested, SRS member or not, may subscribe to the list. The SRS List is used to send out news, information, or other notices in a more timely fashion between issues of the Newsletter. This might include conference announcements, calls for papers, funding information, etc.
If you have problems subscribing or unsubscribing to the list through Google Groups, please contact the SRS webmaster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
H-Romania is an international interdisciplinary academic forum promoting the professional study, criticism, and research of all aspects of Romanian history, politics, culture and society. It focuses primarily on the countries of Romania and Moldova but also attends to numerous other past and present political, ethnic and social groups, including minorities and diasporas, in terms of their significant connections to present-day Romanian territory. Its intended audience is scholars, professionals, and students who study, teach, and write about Romania, Moldova, and these countries’ cultures and diasporas. Since 2013, it has been affiliated with the Society for Romanian Studies (SRS), generally recognized as the major international professional organization for scholars concerned with Romania and Moldova. H-Romania’s editorial rationale is to facilitate the exchange of news, resources, and ideas about Romanian Studies. Specifically, it endeavors to create and strengthen scholarly and professional networks; to commission reviews and other scholarly discussions and debates on historical and contemporary issues important to Romania; to share ideas about teaching and researching; and more broadly to promote activities designed to foster advancement in these fields. H-Romania is currently edited by R. Chris Davis and Valentin Săndulescu.
How to Join H-Romania
To join H-Romania, first set up an H-Net account. To do so, go to https://networks.h-net.org, click on “Sign up to subscribe & contribute,” and follow the instructions there. Once you’ve created an H-Net account and profile, you can then go to the H-Romania page and click “Subscribe to this network to join the discussion.” Before allowing any contributions, we ask that you complete your H-Net profile, indicating your institutional affiliation, degrees, and areas of interest. You can do this by clicking on the accounts icon in the upper right, then selecting the “Profile” option from the drop-down menu.
How to Contact the Editors
We are interested in building our Reviews and Reports pages, including book and film reviews as well as conference and exhibition reports. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the editors at email@example.com. Please also let us know if you are interested in joining the editorial team or becoming a reviewer or blogger at H-Romania. Thanks, and please spread the word to colleagues and students!!