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László Fosztó

Abstract

After the fall of the socialist bloc some authors celebrated the advent of Romani nationalism, emphasising its Eastern European roots and its potential force to foster emancipation among an ethnic minority oppressed for so long. There is another perspective on the community organisation among the Roma from actors who had much less sympathy towards collective claims on behalf of the ‘Gypsies’. Recently published documents from the archive of the secret police testify that Gypsy nationalism (“naționalism țigănesc”) was systematically denounced in Romania. Roma leaders suspected of being its proponents were persecuted during the late period of the Ceaușescu era. This article is an attempt to interpret a contested category in the context of late socialist Romania.

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Marian Viorel Anăstăsoaie

Abstract

This paper addresses one of the first translations of a US anthropological monograph into Romanian. Its author, John V. Murra (1916–2006), born into a Russian-Jewish family in Odessa, grew up in Romania, where he studied and became involved in the Communist movement before his departure for Chicago in 1934. His 1956 PhD thesis in anthropology at University of Chicago on the Inka state was a first step towards turning Murra into an influential figure in the field of Andean anthropology. His sister Ata Iosifescu lived in Romania and translated his PhD thesis into Romanian, published in 1987 as Civilizaţie inca: organizarea economică a statului incaş(Inka Civilization: the Economic Organization of the Inka State). Based on their correspondence kept at the National Anthropological Archives at the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC), I propose to reconstruct this translation’s story: the context, the constraints and the process of translation itself. I am also addressing the question of the book’s reception in Romania.

Open access

Steven G. Randall

Abstract

This discussion looks back at socialist Romania and the collapse of the Ceauşescu regime. It suggests that Romania, like all states, socialist, social-democratic and neoliberal are confronted by the same world systemic capitalism and that all states use a mixture of policies involving both capitalist and socialist, democratic and authoritarian features in the attempt to avoid the hazards and to gain the advantages of a global system dominated by capitalist accumulation. Using a diversity of assets and hampered by limitations inherited historically, some will fail and some will succeed as state projects. Cold War era analysis will not be useful as a way to evaluate or predict winners or losers. Likewise, the failure of Communist Romania as a state system could not have been predicted either by its authoritarian or by its socialist policy features.

Open access

Sam Beck

Abstract

This is a biographical account of my work in Romania and the influence it had on my research that followed. I focus on the impact that my almost five years in Romania had on the framework and orientation of my anthropological practice that I employed in the United States. I suggest that anthropologists have a moral imperative we must carry out when we choose to conduct research among the most vulnerable in society. In doing so, we must also come to understand the conditions that have made them vulnerable in the first place (Nader 1969). I assert here that as anthropologists of the twenty-first century we no longer may stay on the sidelines, but we must engage our work as allies with the vulnerable, supporting them in their self-identified struggles for dignity, liberation, and sustainability as part of a unified global effort. This entails the transformation of participant observation into a participatory research approach.

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Steven Sampson

Abstract

This paper, a revised presentation at a panel on academic exchanges at the 2018 Conference of the Society for Romanian Studies, discusses the challenges of researchers studying small, insignificant places, and particularly when our specific knowledge pushes us to become generalists. Since every country has a ‘La noi ca la nimeni’ (‘Nobody has it the way we have it’) discourse, how do we make Romania interesting?

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Marian Viorel Anăstăsoaie, László Fosztó and Iuliu Rațiu

Open access

Ionuţ Földes and Veronica Savu

Abstract

Part of the mobility and migration process, family relationships and mutual support are subject of various transformations. Spatial separation between family members creates a specific setting for analysis which leads to the necessity of understanding how family practices are arranged and developed across time and distance. The present study focuses on the dyad emigrated adult children and non-migrated elderly parents living in Romania and on the types of intergenerational family practices that occur between these dyads across national borders. Our analysis of family practices relies on tracing certain set of actions taken by family members in order to maintain, consolidate, and ultimately to display family solidarity. We consider here various forms of practices, namely technological mediated contacts, visits, time-consuming practical support and financial assistance. Analyses are based on the national survey entitled Intergenerational solidarity in the context of work migration abroad. The situation of elderly left at home, which provides empirical data about the relationships from a distance between elderly parents living in Romania and their migrant adult children. Descriptive statistics are provided in order to assess the flow directions, the frequency and the intensity of each type of intergenerational support. Our empirical evidence highlights that transnational support is asymmetrical and multidirectional. Results also support that intergenerational support and family relationships can no longer be theoretically approached in terms of a simple dichotomy.

Open access

David A. Kideckel

Abstract

This essay considers how transportation and mobility model the character of Romanian-American interaction during fieldwork from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. Transportation in socialist Romania was a register of modernization and regime legitimation as well as an absolute threat to that legitimation. Official suspicions of movement and political concern about transportation translated into differentially restricting, policing, and limiting availability of transportation. In contrast anthropological fieldwork is predicated on movement while Western culture also claimed free mobility as a cultural good. These different teleologies provoked diverse disjunctures in my interactions with Romanians. While I engaged with Romanians naively, my travelling together with people either gave them cover for resistance or provoked their fear of political exposure. Sharing transportation resources with Romanians encouraged others’ concerns about my alleged political bias or was used to affirm socialist superiority. In other words, transportation during socialism was never neutral, but freighted politically and culturally confrontational.

Open access

Cornel Ban

Open access

Ágota Ábrán

Abstract

Part of the raw material accumulation for the medicinal plant industry in Romania is reliant on gathering plants from the so-called spontaneous flora. The imagery of medicinal plants played upon by medicinal plant product manufacturers is often abundant in visions of either wilderness or traditional peasant landscapes such as pastures. This article aims to present instead two different spaces where medicinal plants come from: wild pansy from within an oil seed rape cultivation, and elderflowers and nettles from the ruins of a former socialist orchard. These spaces of spontaneous flora highlight the process of capital’s appropriation or salvage of the ‘free’ reproductive labour (spontaneous growth) of weeds often at odds and against other capitalist processes. Moreover, salvaging or scrounging is done through the cheap labour of a family whose livelihood depends on work both inside and outside of this capitalist process. These places, therefore, highlight the tension between the spontaneous flora and scroungers on the ground and Nature with its ancestral peasants on the supermarket and nature shop shelves.