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Vol. 1, No. 1 (2019)

Journal of Romanian Studies, 1, no. 1 (2019)

Editors: Lavinia Stan, Margaret Beissiger, Radu Cinpoeş

Contents Page


Vintilă Mihăilescu

A Subjective Centenary: The Peasant Footprint in Recent Romanian History (pp. 9-34)

This article approaches Romanian history from the perspective of the peasantry. It treats the role of the peasantry throughout the modern period as well as some of the legacies it has transmitted up to the present day. The history of Romania’s peasantry is viewed in the Balkan context. Beyond various similarities and differences between the neighbouring countries, significant is the fact that the large agrarian properties lasted much longer in Romania than in the rest of the Balkans. This explains why the last great peasant revolt in the history of Europe took place in Roma‐ nia (1907) and why Romania is still the largest agrarian, rural country in Europe, with a land distribution identical to that in 1905. The article also identifies what present‐day Romanian society has inherited from this long‐ lasting peasant culture and its structural peculiarities, focusing on the broad, all‐encompassing consequences of its enduring “orality” (i.e., lack of “graphic reason”). This article was originally delivered as the first keynote address on 26 June 2018 at the triennial Society for Romanian Studies conference held in Bucharest.

Katherine Verdery

Notes on a Century of Surveillance (pp. 35-52)

The formation of Greater Romania in December 1918 entailed building up its intelligence apparatus, both foreign and internal—a development crucial to its survival in the twentieth‐century system of national states. Events during the war and provisions of the peace treaty lent special urgency to this development, for the rise of the communist movement in Russia posed grave problems for Romania’s eastern border (regularly breached by both refugees and communist agents), and revisions of the border with Hungary increased the threat of Hungarian irredentism. The intelligence services were once again challenged by World War II and the communist takeover; the events of 1989 repeated these challenges. To examine this series of transformations is to ask, among other things, what it means for the form of the state or its ruling regime to change. The paper, delivered as a keynote address at the 2018 international conference organized by the Society for Romanian Studies in Bucharest, explores continuities across these various transitions.

Dennis Deletant

Shattered Illusions: Britain and Iuliu Maniu, 1940–1945 (pp. 53-76)

During World War II the military situation was never conducive to a defection strategy for Romania. Fear of the Soviet Union had driven Romania into alliance with Nazi Germany and the threat posed by the former continued to cast a shadow over the British Government’s efforts to persuade Romania’s leaders to steer the country to abandon the Axis. For the British, Iuliu Maniu, the leader of the National Peasant Party, was the pivotal point for any action against the regime of Ion Antonescu. This article uses documents from the British Foreign Office and the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) to trace the British perception of Maniu in 1940–1945, and the steps taken by the Foreign Office and the SOE to maintain contact with him and to encourage him to bring about  the overthrow of Antonescu.

Maria Bucur

The Queen Is No Sister: Three Faces of Marie of Romania (pp. 77-104)

This essay provides a gender analysis of Queen Marie of Romania’s autobiographical works to ask how we can best make sense of this complex and much discussed historical character during World War I as a woman of her time. My focus will be on her work as a politician/diplomat during the war; her efforts on behalf of the military campaign, particularly medical aid and other related services; and her relationship with the feminists who sought to gain the vote during the war. My conclusions offer some appreciative, though overall critical evaluations of the efforts Marie of Romania made in terms of using her dynastic position and popularity on behalf of other women.

Marius Stan and Vladimir Tismăneanu

Stalinism and Anti‐Stalinism in Romania: The Case of Alexandru Jar Revisited (pp. 105-122)

Communist writer Alexandru Jar (or Solomon Iacob, “Paşchela” for friends, 1911–1988) is the most prominent Romanian case of disenchantment with Stalinism. The 1956 “Jar Affair,” as it came to be known in Romania and abroad, reveals the persistence of the Stalinist engagement of the Romanian communist leadership under Gheorghe Gheorghiu‐Dej (1901–1965). By singling out Jar, a veteran party member and a former French Resistance fighter, the hegemonic nucleus within the Romanian Workers’ Party succeeded in neutralizing political and intellectual challenges similar to those in Poland and Hungary. Based on newly discovered materials in the archives of the Romanian Communist Party’s Central Committee, including Jar’s party file and his numerous letters asking for political rehabilitation, this study offers a novel interpretation of the relationship between party leadership and intellectual unrest in Romania during the hectic year 1956. The authors explore the “Jar Affair” in a comparative, transnational historical perspective meant to highlight the complexities of political awakening in the aftermath of Nikita Khrushchev’s Secret Speech. The article adds significantly to the understanding of the dialectics of de‐Stalinization in East‐Central Europe.

Book Reviews

Katherine Verdery, My Life as a Spy: Investigations in a Secret Police File.
(Review by Radu Cinpoeş)

Cristian Vasile ed., “Ne trebuie oameni!’’: Elite intelectuale şi transformări istorice în România modern şi contemporană.
(Review by Roland Clark)

Ioana Em. Petrescu & Liviu Petrescu, Scrisori Americane (1981‐1983), ed. Ioana Bot.

(Review by Iuliu Raţiu)

Bruce O’Neill, The Space of Boredom. Homelessness in the Slowing Global Order.
(Review by Petru Negură)