The Peasantry, Nation-Building, and the Social Sciences, 1890-1940
Panel Chair: Chris Davis (Lone Star College)
Panel Discussant: Victor Rizescu (University of Bucharest)
Panel Organizers: Ion Matei Costinescu (University of Bucharest) and Ionuţ Butoi (University of Bucharest)
Panel Participants: Andrei Sorescu (University College London), Ionut Butoi (University of Bucharest), Ion Matei Costinescu (University of Bucharest)
The mutually constitutive relationship between nationalism and the social sciences is well established in the extant literature. In the Romanian case, there already exists a corpus of works that explore the ways in which the cross-fertilization between various social-scientific disciplines configured the intellectual field of nationalism, shaped policies of social modernization, and articulated the biopolitical dimensions of national construction and consolidation. We believe this is a fruitful approach to illuminating the social history of the period in question, one that remains underexplored despite its potentially large interpretive impact. As such, this panel aims to both revisit and expand upon the scholarship on the subject.
The main objective is to examine the ways in which the interpenetration of national ideologies and the social sciences configured the peasantry both as a privileged political subject essential to the task of national construction and as an object of social and political intervention in the provinces inhabited by Romanians. The papers seek to explore the image of the peasantry in relation to the “nation”, the ways in which this image was politically mobilized and institutionalized, as well as the modalities in which the “peasant question” enabled discourses and practices of social modernization in both dominant and counterhegemonic forms. The panel presents both diachronic and synchronic approaches regarding the processes in question, as well as shedding light on the social worlds within which the image of the peasantry was generated and contested.
Andrei-Dan Sorescu, University College London: Now-or-Never: Eroded Agency, Peasant Degeneration and Statistical Anxiety in Fin-de-Siecle Romania
Ionut Butoi, University of Bucharest: Center and Periphery in Interwar Romania
Ion Matei Costinescu, University of Bucharest: The Greening of the Iron Cage: The Biopolitics of Mihail Manoilescu, Virgil Madgearu, and Dimitrie Gusti
The Malleable Peasant, the Audible Peasant: Case-Studies in Top-Down Perceptions of the Rural World, 1890-1940
Panel Chair: Zoltan Rostas (University of Bucharest)
Panel Organizer: Andrei Sorescu (University College London)
Discussants: Andrei Sorescu (University College London) and Ion Matei Costinescu (University of Bucharest)
Panel Participants: Theodor Constantiniu (Gheorghe Dima Music Academy, Cluj), Otilia Constantiniu (Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj), Ligia Livada-Cadeschi (University of Bucharest)
In Romanian historiography, elite discourses on the peasantry have typically been treated within the explanatory frameworks of intellectual history and the politics of elite culture. By contrast, the present panel favors the complementary approaches of cultural and social history, without contesting the utility of the aforementioned frameworks. The objective here is to explore the mechanisms through which intellectuals on behalf of the nation-state co-opted and made sense of peasant culture, on the one hand, and, on the other, sought mechanisms for transforming the peasants themselves.
Two of the panel’s papers concern themselves with the complex implications that elite responses to utilizing, aestheticizing and cataloguing folk music had on the level of defining authenticity in the realm of the nation. The other half of the panel focuses on socio-economic perspectives on the question of peasant agency, with particular emphasis on paternalism, broadly defined. The extent to which the rural world could be modernized/civilized for the sake of its own survival is explored with reference to health policies and agrarian reform. In short, this panel explores some of the mechanisms whereby political and intellectual elites sought to integrate the rural world in the project of national construction.
Theodor Constantiniu, Gheorghe Dima Music Academy, Cluj: Two Models in the Construction of a Young Discipline. The Romanian Interwar Ethnomusicology: Ideological Constraints and Developmental Perspectives
Otilia Constantiniu, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj: Inventing national music. The role of folk music in configuring the componistic conception of the Romanian composers from Transylvania between 1880 and 1940
Ligia LIVADĂ-CADESCHI, University of Bucharest: La problématique sociale et économique de la paysannerie dans les publications médicales périodiques roumaines « Le Guide Sanitaire et Hygiénique » (Călăuza sanitară şi igienică) 1899-1907