Home » Journal issues » Vol. 5 No. 2 (2023)

Vol. 5 No. 2 (2023)

Journal of Romanian Studies, 5, No. 2 (2023)

Editors: Svetlana Suveica, Jill Massino, Iemima Ploscariu

Guest Editors: Iuliana Cindrea-Nagy, Roland Clark



Iuliana Cindrea-Nagy, Roland Clark

(pp. 123-130)


Constantin Bărbulescu and Roland Clark

The Ignored Peasants of Romanian Ethnology: Ovid Densusianu, Henri H. Stahl, and the Recalibration of Research on Rural Romania

 (pp. 131-154)

The present study attempts to capture and explain a somewhat paradoxical theme: the way in which the national ethnology of the nineteenth century “ignored” the peasant world. Why did a science dedicated to the peasant world ignore the “voices” of peasants for a long period of time? Throughout the nineteenth century the ethnologist’s agenda did not overlap at all with that of the peasant in front of him: the urban researcher was interested in folk literature, music, dance, and dress, while the peasant wanted to talk about rural poverty and its causes. The ethnologist was engaged in building the national, while the peasant spoke about the social. Their discourses simply did not intersect. Changes did begin to happen at the beginning of the twentieth century: peasants began not only to be asked but were also listened to. Ovid Densusianu was responsible for this paradigm shift, redefining folklore during the first decade of the century. He was followed by the sociological monographic school, represented here by the work of Henri H. Stahl.

George Andrei

“I Am a Poor Man with a Family”: Rangers, Social Welfare, and Monitor Networks in the Forests of Interwar Zlatna, Romania

(pp. 155-180) 

In the interwar period, forestry emerged as a powerful tool through which state institutions attempted to shape social and natural environments in rural Romania. This article evaluates how criminality, poverty, surveillance, exploitation, and labor intersected in Romania’s forests through the figure of the forest ranger, responsible for a range of tasks from managing forest ecology to serving as the state’s representative in the woodlands. Using a microhistorical approach, the article recounts the story of a Zlatna ranger investigated for theft in the late 1920s. His story and the individuals involved offer important insight into the asymmetrical power relations and local social factors that negotiated the forests’ legibility. Rangers served as part crucial asset, part embarrassing liability, existing in a liminal space between the state and local society. Through local forestry agents, their informal networks, and the “involuntary monitors” these invariably created, state forestry officials had valuable points of contact with rural society. This article demonstrates the value of rural perspectives in historical studies, challenging prevailing notions that conceptualize rural people as simple, irrelevant, or singlemindedly opposed to the encroachment of the modern state.

Philippe Henri Blasen

Rural Residents on King Carol’s New Regime: Voices on the “Royal Dictatorship” from Mihăileni, Northern Moldavia (1938)


The paper discusses the social, political, and economic situation in the northern Moldavian small town of Mihăileni, based on interviews recorded by the local police. This extraordinary source provides a unique insight into a variety of local opinions and the daily life of rural residents during 1938, the year when Carol II established a new regime, the so-called “royal dictatorship,” and when Romania suffered from the impact of the Czechoslovak crisis. The locals’ statements suggest that they embraced the new regime and that they approved of the new 1938 Constitution. However, they also reveal disgruntlement over the authorities’ inadequate action regarding the difficult economic situation, and expose the hardships which the peasants, related professionals, and poor people endured.

Adriana Cupcea

Practicing Islam among a Double Minority in Dobruja (Romania): The Turkish Muslim Roma in Medgidia (Mecidiye)


The aim of this article is to explore religiosity in an urban Turkish Muslim Roma community from the Dobruja region of Romania. The article is based on fieldwork research consisting of semi-structured interviews, life histories, and participant observation in the post-socialist town of Medgidia. The research is an emic study which seeks to describe the representations of Turkish Muslim Roma in Medgidia and the way they understand, negotiate, and practice Islam. I draw on Arolda Elbasani and Olivier Roy’s definition of religiosity as the way an individual believer experiences his or her relationship to religion and faith. Considering Islam an essentially emotional category, I investigate what Turkish Muslim Roma in Medgidia feel it means to be Muslims, the dynamics of their agencies within their environment, and the emotional elements of their personal narratives. I observe how they perform identity to maintain a certain coherence between their autobiographical selves and the environment in which they live.

Source Translation: 

R. Chris Davis

“We Are True Romanians”: Letters to Romanian Authorities from Roman Catholic Communities in Rural Moldavia (aka Csangos), 1940–1945


Book Reviews  

(pp. 231–241)

Irina Marin

Dennis Deletant, In Search of Romania. A Memoir. London: Hurst, 2022. 318 pp.

Ioana Luca

Valentina Glajar. The Secret Police Dossier of Herta Müller: A “File Story” of Cold War Surveillance.  Rochester: Camden House, 2023. 294 pp.

Florin Anghel

Andrei Ursu, Roland O. Thomasson, în colaborare cu Mădălin Hodor. Trăgători și mistificatori. Contrarevoluția Securității în decembrie 1989 Iași: Editura Polirom, 2019. 423 pp.

Dana S. Trif

Noțiuni de drept internațional maritim și fluvial (1915)Ediție îngrijită de Adrian-Bogdan Ceobanu și Constantin Ardeleanu. București: Editura Militară, 2022. 201 pp.