This article reviews some of the major frameworks that historians use to tell the stories of interwar Romania, asking why they became popular and how useful they are in the twenty-first century. It examines the problems of periodization and of placing the nation-state at the center of Romanian history, then traces the evolution of four major frames: (1) the problems of a small state; (2) the collapse of democracy; (3) the march of progress; and (4) the consequences of state-building and centralization. Such approaches give the impression that interwar Romania was an intolerant, chauvinistic society that marginalized anyone who was not male, Orthodox, and ethnically Romanian. The best new histories, however, not only uncover alternative, suppressed narratives but also reveal how people were able to live and sometimes thrive in a society as diverse as interwar Romania undeniably was.
Roland Clark. “Interwar Romania: Enshrining Ethnic Privilege.” In Sabrina P. Ramet ed., Interwar East Central Europe, 1918-1941: The Failure of Democracy-Building, the Fate of Minorities. London: Routledge, 2020, 144-177.
The story of Greater Romania is that of the failure of the ruling elites to establish cultural and political hegemony over the heterogenous populations living within their borders. While technocrats from the Old Kingdom exploited educational, scientific, and cultural institutions as ways to dominate the newly-acquired territories, successive governments also attempted to resolve long-standing rural dissatisfaction with land reform, credit institutions, and cultural associations. Rapid industrialization and urbanization transformed the countryside during these years, however, and the ‘peasantry’ elites thought they were engaging with were far less ignorant and malleable than they had hoped. Nationalist prejudices also meant that these reforms primarily targeted ethnic Romanians, leaving Germans, Jews, Ukrainians, and other minorities to develop their own institutions, support networks, and identities. Attempts by the Romanian Orthodox Church to achieve hegemony within the nation-state also failed, with the Concordat of 1927 clarifying the rights of the Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic churches and the rise of neo-Protestantism threatening the dominance of Orthodoxy in the villages. Universal male suffrage meant that Bucharest’s failure to establish cultural hegemony over the rest of the country broke the hold of prewar parties over the political system, facilitating the rise of far-right groups and populist, radical political forms. Romania economic and foreign policy shifted from French to German spheres of influence as the interwar period progressed, eventually allying the country firmly with Nazi Germany at the outbreak of the Second World War.
Roland Clark. “The Society for Romanian Studies, 1973-2019: The Globalization of Academic Associational Culture.” In Marina Cap-Bun şi Florentina Nicolae eds., Studiile româneşti în anul centenarului. Bucharest: Editura Universitara, 2019, pp. 13-21.
Augerot and Michael Impey established the Society for Romanian Studies (SRS) in 1973 as a vehicle for North American scholars to network and share their passion for Romanian language and culture. It has evolved dramatically over the past 46 years, embracing the digital age and developing new ways to engage and connect members across disciplines, career stages, and continents. As academia becomes increasingly global, the SRS has striven to integrate East European scholars into its activities and governance, transforming both Romanian and North American associational culture in the process.
The study of men and masculinities is a vibrant and complex field with researchers working from a wide variety of methodological and theoretical approaches. In recent years scholars have worked to establish a global history of masculinities and to integrate the study of gender into other stories about power and identity. Few scholars still believe in a male/female binary, and creative attempts are being made to transcend the either/or distinction between gender as grounded either in the body or in discourse. Zachary Doleshal’s article shows that even while trying to transcend their local and national context, Czech men created an ideal-type that was uniquely East Central European. Similarly, Katalin Kis’ research uncovers homophobia masquerading as tolerance that emerges directly out of the situation contemporary Hungarian men find themselves in. Finally, Marina Yusupova’s contribution emphasizes how discourses about masculinity can emerge out of the lived realities of much earlier periods and are not always accurate representations of the challenges and opportunities available to men in the present.