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SRS 2019 Graduate Student Essay Prize


Marina Cap-Bun (chair),

Valeska Bopp-Filimonov,

Cristian Tileaga

The winner for the 11th Annual SRS Graduate Essay Prize, in 2019, is Adela Hîncu, a doctoral candidate in Comparative History of Central, Southeastern, and Eastern Europe, Central European University, Department of History, Budapest, with a thesis entitled, Accounting for the “social” in State Socialist Romania, 1960s–1980s: Contexts and genealogies.Her eponymous winning essay reconstructed the contexts and genealogies of scientific thought on the “social” in state socialist Romania in the 1960s–1980s and emphasized the dynamic between local, transnational, and global frameworks of knowledge production, and the role of Eastern bloc cooperation in the field of sociology. It proposes a “reverse genealogy” of three themes which became part of the imaginary of postsocialist intellectual thought on the social: participation, equality, and welfare, and explores how they played out in sociological research on mass culture, women’s emancipation, and the quality of life in the 1960s–80s.

It was an excellent essay that marshalled ideas relevant to Romanian studies assuredly and outstandingly. It showed original intellectual added-value on a topic central to Romanian studies, with a clear awareness of context and importance, and without overstating the case. Her B.A. in World and Comparative Literature (major) and German Language and Literature (minor), at University of Bucharest, Faculty of Letters, gives her a wide interdisciplinary perspective and thoroughly explains the fine stylistic quality of her essay and the inclusion of a poem to project her discoveries at a symbolic level. At the same time, she managed to strike the right academic tone, as well as being accessible to a more generally educated audience. The reader is immediately confronted with the Romanian recent past and taken further back in the debates and development of concepts during the 60s and 70s. Hîncu develops her findings very well with sources from the time, innovatively and beyond clichés and offers new insights, even embedded in western discourse of the time, illustrating the transnational flow of concepts and ideas.

The committee also awarded an Honorable Mention to Elena Radu for her essay Understanding secularism within Eastern Orthodox world. The relationship between state and church in Romania.