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High-tech Romania?

Commoditisation and Informal Relations in the Managerialist Informatisation of the Romanian Health-Care System

Sabina Stan and Valentin-Veron Toma

While informatisation has officially been hailed as a major component of the modernisation of the Romanian health-care system, this paper, based on ethnographic research in Romanian hospitals, shows that it has been mostly geared towards managerialist goals of administrative control and cost containment. Paradoxically, informal relations, which were supposed to be suppressed as a result of both informatisation and managerialist marketisation, continue to thrive in the Romanian health-care system.

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Nurturing Romanian Socialists

Reading Primers Before, During and After the Second World War

Simona Szakács-Behling and Mihai Stelian Rusu

Drawing on a sample of children’s reading primers published between 1938 and 1953 in Romania, this article explores ways in which both the monarchic and the communist regimes used primary education to fashion political subjects before, during, and after the Second World War. Theoretically grounded in a sociological approach and empirically grounded in textual and visual thematic content analysis, the findings reveal significant semantic shifts in understandings of the “nation” in relation to internal and external anchors, including religion, monarchy, and work, but they also indicate important continuities relating to an ethos of political submission (toward God and king, or the party and the Soviet Union) and patriotic solidarity (with the Romanian Orthodox nation or the workers’ proletarian nation).

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Non- and dedocumenting citizens in Romania

Nonrecording as a civil boundary

Ioana Vrăbiescu

This article explores state practices in Romania that lead to the non-, de-, and redocumenting of tens of thousands of inhabitants. Unlike state practices of (non)recording aliens (asylum seekers, refugees, undocumented migrants), the scale of dedocumenting native citizens in Romania exposes a deliberate and systematic modality of governance through exclusion from state records. These practices of citizenship dispossession lead mostly to the gender discrimination of marginalized women and the racial exclusion of Romani ethnics. People who were born and live on the state’s territory become de facto stateless. By scrutinizing state regulations and institutional practices, this article unravels the logic of dedocumenting citizens, a process that allows state actors to select those who belong to the nation on the basis of criteria that are incompatible with basic civil and human rights. This selective modality of recording endows state actors with crucial and direct control over the political and economic lives of undocumented citizens.

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Katherine Verdery

Throughout the Cold War, most people in the US saw the communist party-states of the Soviet bloc as all-powerful regimes imposing their will on their populations. The author, a child of the Cold War, began her fieldwork in Romania in the 1970s in this belief. The present essay describes how her experiences in Romania between 1973 and 1989 gradually forced her to see things differently, bringing her to realize that centralization was only one face of a system of rule pervaded by barely controlled anarchy and parasitism on the state. It was not simply that the regime had failed to change people's consciousness; rather, the system's operation was actively producing something quite different. These insights contributed to the author's developing a new model of the workings of socialism.

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Maria Bucur

This article questions the claim that in Romania, the post-1990 period was one of radically greater freedom in religious matters, as well as greater religiosity on the part of the population. Instead, it suggests that continuity be er encapsulates the development of religiosity—religious beliefs and their embodiment in specific practices— among Orthodox Christians in Romania in the twentieth century. It also makes visible important imbalances, gaps, and faulty assumptions about the importance of institutions in the daily religious practices and beliefs of most Orthodox populations in the historiography on Orthodoxy in Romania. Scholars have failed to see continuities and have embraced analytical frameworks that stress change, especially around the communist takeover period (1945–1949) and the fall of communism (1989–1990). Central to re-evaluating this trajectory are two aspects of Orthodoxy in Romania: (1) most believers live in the countryside; and (2) women have remained central to the development and maintenance of religious practices in ways that cannot be accounted for through any institutional analysis of the Orthodox Church, because of its both implicit and explicit misogyny.

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Reclaiming Romanian Historical Feminism

History Writing and Feminist Politics in Romania

Roxana Cheşchebec

Stefania Mihailescu, Din istoria feminismului românesc. Antologie de texte (1838–1929) (From the history of Romanian feminism. Collection of documents [1838–1929]), Iasi: Polirom, 2002, 376 pp., 18.90 RON (pb). ISBN 973-681-012-7

Stefania Mihailescu, Emanciparea femeii române. Antologie de texte. Vol. I (1815–1928) (Romanian women’s emancipation. Collection of documents. Vol. I [1815–1928]), Bucuresti: Editura Ecumenica, 2001, 605 pp., (pb). ISBN 973-99782-1-5

Maria Bucur, Mihaela Miroiu eds., Patriarhat si emancipare în istoria gîndirii politice românesti (Patriarchy and emancipation in the history of Romanian political thought), Iasi: Polirom, 2002, 270 pp., (pb). ISBN 973-681-130-1

Mihaela Miroiu, Drumul catre autonomie. Teorii politice feministe (The road to autonomy. Feminist political theories), Iasi: Polirom, 2004, 307 pp. 17.90 RON (pb). ISBN 973-681-646-X

Ghizela Cosma, Femeile si politica în România. Evolutia dreptului de vot în perioada interbelica (Women and politics in Romania. The evolution of the right to vote in the interwar period), Cluj-Napoca: Presa Universitara Clujeana, 2002, 174 pp. (pb). ISBN 973-610-069-3

Ghizela Cosma, Virgiliu ̨ârau eds., Conditia femeii în România în secolul XX. Studii de caz (Woman’s condition in Romania in the twentieth century. Case studies), Cluj-Napoca: Presa Universitara ̈ Clujeana, 2002, 213 pp. (pb). ISBN 973-610-127-4

Alin Ciupala, Femeia în societatea româneasca a secolului al XIX-lea (Woman in Romanian Society of the nineteenth century), Bucuresti: Editura Meridiane, 2003, 174 pp. (pb). ISBN 973-33-0481-6

Simona Stiger, ‘Miscarea feminista româneasca din Transilvania (1850–1914)’ (The Romanian feminist movement in Transylvania [1850–1914]), in Prezenòe feminine. Studii despre femei în România (Feminine presences. Studies about women in Romania), eds., Ghizela Cosma, Eniko... Magyari-Vincze and Oviciu Pecican, Cluj-Napoca: Editura Fundaòiei Desire, 2002, 237–266, 488 pp. (pb.). ISBN 973-85512-4-2

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"With calluses on your palms they don't bother you"

Illegal Romanian migrants in Italy

Ana Bleahu

For every official registered Romanian migrant in Italy there are between one and three illegal, unregistered migrants. This article examines the informal forms of self-organization that arise among the migrants in order to manage the challenges migrants face under a system that needs their labor but refuses to acknowledge this need publicly or institutionalize it openly. Semi-tolerated illegality determines the forms of networks both in the organization of the migration and in the forms of its integration into the labor and housing markets. This strictly ethnographic and qualitative presentation focuses on informal solutions to housing and the creation of informal labor markets and the consequences for the migrants of this enforced informality. It shows how the Italian state is caught between toleration and repression, arbitrarily switching from one mode to the other.

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The Collectivisation of Pleasure

Normative Sexuality in Post-1966 Romania

Erin K. Biebuyck

This article examines several sex manuals from Nicolae Ceauşescu’s Romania for the ideologically-infused sex norms they contain. These manuals constructed a sexual ideal that located pleasure in the marital couple rather than in the individual, defining ‘normal sexuality’ as heterosexual and privileging its collective significance as an act for reproduction over the experience of pleasure by an individual. This collective model of pleasure was key to the construction of the communist subject as a member of a collective rather than as an autonomous individual. While this collective subject had roots in Romanian pre-communist traditions, communist sex experts rejected conventional gender roles according to which women are subordinate to men. Subsequent comparisons with contemporaneous American sex manuals reveal that the Romanian communist discourse on pleasure differed significantly from that of popular American sex advice of the same period.

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Entangled traditions of race

Physical anthropology in Hungary and Romania, 1900–1940

Marius Turda

This article discusses the relationship between race and physical anthropology in Hungary and Romania between 1900 and 1940. It begins by looking at institutional developments in both countries and how these influenced the most important Hungarian and Romanian anthropologists' professional and research agendas. Drawing from a wide range of primary sources, the article reveals the significant role the concept of race played in articulating anthropological and ethnic narratives of national belonging. It is necessary to understand the appeal of the idea of race in this context. With idealized images of national communities and racial hierarchies creeping back into Eastern European popular culture and politics, one needs to understand the latent and often unrecognized legacies of race in shaping not only scientific disciplines like anthropology, but also the emergence and entrancement of modern Hungarian and Romanian nationalism.

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Between Liberal and Republican Citizenship

Feminism and Nationalism in Romania, 1880-1918

Maria Bucur

This essay explores feminism's relations with nationalism and liberalism by examining specifically how feminists in late-nineteenth-century Romania understood citizenship and how they articulated views about women's empowerment starting from specific assumptions about individual rights and responsibilities in the community (as regulated by the state through citizenship). This perspective enables me to explain the eagerness of many feminist activists to work within the dominant paternalist/patriarchal context not as a paradox, but rather as an outgrowth of locally grounded, powerful contexts that worked together to afford specific choices to women struggling against patriarchy. In the case I discuss below feminists understood women's empowerment in terms of validating and increasing women's civic duties and responsibilities, rather than struggling for individual rights. These arguments built upon a well-established, albeit not clearly articulated, concept of republican citizenship, and reconstructed it most often in the language of nationalism (frequently ethno-nationalism), which had wide currency in Romania in the late nineteenth century.