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Vol. 2, No. 1 (2020)

Journal of Romanian Studies, 2, no. 1 (2020)

Editors: Peter Gross, Diane Vancea, Iuliu Raţiu



Alexandra Chiriac

Ephemeral Modernisms, Transnational Lives: Reconstructing Avant-Garde Performance in Bucharest (pp. 9-34)

During the mid-1920s Bucharest became home to the Vilna Troupe, an ensemble formed in Vilnius in 1915 and famed for its ground-breaking Yiddish-language productions that toured all over the world. Its collaborations with the Romanian artist M. H. Maxy are the subject of this essay, which demonstrates the experimental nature of several productions that took place in Bucharest during this period. New research material from sources on both sides of the Atlantic makes it possible to reconstruct the outputs of this richly innovative partnership to a much greater extent than before, demonstrating that the vitality of avant-garde theatre in Bucharest has been heretofore underestimated by scholars, its existence obscured by the ephemerality of the performative and by its unwieldy transnational trajectory. An earlier version of this essay won the Graduate Student Essay Prize offered in 2018 by the Society for Romanian Studies.

Petru Negură

Compulsory Primary Education and State Building in Rural Bessarabia (1918-1940) (pp. 35-58)

This article examines the way in which public primary education was established in rural Bessarabia during 1918-1940. The imposition of mass compulsory education resulted from an unequal relationship of power between the state education authorities and the village population, which at times conflicted and at other times negotiated with each other. This process was crucial for the expansion of the state in rural areas and the development of citizenship among the civilian population of what was at the time a new Romanian province. Yet, primary schooling did not succeed entirely, due to the resistance of the rural population, the indetermination of state agents, and the lack of institutional infrastructure.

Vladimir Solonari

Record Weak: Romanian Judiciary in Occupied Transnistria (pp. 59-82)

This article explores the role of the Romanian judiciary in occupied Transnistria in 1940-1944. Based on a wide array of sources from American, Israeli, Romanian, Ukrainian, and Moldovan archives, the article focuses on the role of the judiciary in the fight against official corruption and administrative abuse, enforcement of legal norms in the fight against pro-Soviet guerrilla groups, and curtailment of violence against Jews. In these areas the Romanian judiciary had a weak record. Not only did they fail to fight official corruption and administrative abuse effectively, but Romanian prosecutors and courts were notoriously corrupt themselves. While military magistrates on duty in Transnistria refrained from imposing harsh sentences on suspected partisans, they looked another way when gendarmes murdered partisans under the pretense of attempted escape. Romanian prosecutors sometimes investigated the illegal appropriation of Jewish possessions by the guards, they never concerned themselves with their mass murder.

Delia Popescu

A Political Palimpsest: Nationalism and Faith in Petre Țuțea’s Thinking (pp. 83-108)

This article examines the political thinking of Petre Țuțea, a noteworthy public figure in post-1989 Romania. I develop Țuțea’s views as a significant instance of a reconstructive nationalist imaginary “for all seasons”: a radical religious ethno-nationalism that both transcends its pre-communist roots and conceals its continuity during communism in order to be recast as a suitable post-communist alternative. Țuțea samples radicalism on both sides of the political spectrum and ultimately embraces the mystical, elitist, nationalist ideology that distills the protochronic nuance of much of Romanian political life.

Cynthia M. Horne

What Is too Long and When Is too Late for Transitional Justice? Observations from the Case of Romania (pp. 109-138)

Nearly 30 years after the end of Nicolae Ceaușescu’s regime, what is too long and when is too late to use public disclosures about secret police complicity in the past to influence the composition of public office holders in the present? This article examines Romania’s public disclosure measures from 2010 to the present, drawing on the reports of the secret police file repository agency—the C.N.S.A.S.—in order to better understand the temporal parameters surrounding their continued use. First, the article shows that despite contentions that there are no more spies left to unmask, Romania’s vetting process continues to disclose the collaborator backgrounds of current political candidates, at both the national and local levels, and individuals being considered for appointments in high-ranking political and social institutions. Second, contrary to expectations that citizens might be too fatigued with the public disclosure process to consider them politically salient, citizen engagement with their personal files remains robust. Together, these findings suggest that preconceived temporal parameters for this type of transitional justice measure might have underestimated the duration of its utility and political relevance.

Brindusa Armanca and Peter Gross

Searching for a Future: Mass Media and the Uncertain Construction of Democracy in Romania (pp. 139-162)

To date, Romania’s democracy and the news media’s professionalization have not met indigenous and foreign expectations, as both have failed to assume their social responsibility. The persistent crisis in ethics, enveloped in the illiberal culture and political culture, is victimizing democratization and the media’s independence and professionalization and, thus, their ability to serve the still ongoing democratic transformation. This article chronicles the crisis, its causes and outcomes. Finally, it concludes that the country’s emerging civil society, coupled with the small groups of independent, professionalizing media and journalists are the key to the country’s liberal democratic future.

Book Reviews

Ionuț Butoi, Mircea Vulcănescu. O microistorie a interbelicului românesc.
(Review by Emanuel Copilaş)

Henry P. Rammelt, Activistes protestataires en Hongrie et en Roumanie.
(Review by Dana S. Trif)