The Measurements of Boundary Kin in an Inheritance Bubble in Romania

in Social Analysis
Author: Liviu Chelcea1
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Abstract

Struggles between current tenants and the heirs of former owners over property rights in post-socialist housing restitution in Romania often unfold through kinship measurements. I use the notion of ‘boundary kin’—relatives who in different situations may be considered as either near or distant—to capture the role that kinship measurements play in these conflicts. Expanding ties to the past, a large number of persons are seeking restitution. In this ‘inheritance bubble’, the importance of the material basis of measurements in documenting and certifying kinship increases. In an effort to limit restitution, tenants question the genealogical, geographical, and temporal proximity between potential heirs and original owners, embedding kinship measurements instead in care, past suffering, and material engagements with, and knowledge of, the restitution object.

In 2019, the current president of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, and his wife Carmen lost their final court appeal of a restitution claim for two valuable buildings located in the historical center of Sibiu, a relatively rich second-tier city. The president's family had got the buildings ‘back’ in 1999, thanks to two wills and a genealogical tree (later proven inaccurate)1 that established a chain of inheritance descending from a couple (Eliseu and Maria Ghenea) born in the 1880s. This couple had purchased the buildings in the 1920s after Eliseu, the husband, had returned from the United States. As they had no children, they apparently adopted Nicolae, the fraternal nephew of Maria, informally. When Maria died in 1962, Eliseu inherited her estate and signed a will benefiting Nicolae in 1963. In 1964, the state nationalized the two buildings, five years before Eliseu's death in 1969.

By the 1990s, housing restitution to former owners and housing privatization to current tenants were both in full swing. In 1991, two years before his death, Nicolae's son wrote a will of his own, with one of his nephews, along with the future president's wife and her mother, as beneficiaries. These three heirs tried to reclaim the property of the couple but failed. Experts determined that the 1963 will had been handwritten by somebody other than Eliseu (although the signature was his own). The three heirs did not give up, submitting an affidavit issued by the administration of the village where the old couple had lived, which certified that Nicolae was actually Eliseu's nephew, not Maria's. This new evidence for measuring kinship convinced a notary to issue an inheritance certificate to the three heirs in 1999, which helped them nullify a 1997 privatization that had transferred the two buildings’ four apartments to the four families who had been living there as tenants during the socialist era. The three heirs then owned the four apartments (although they did not evict the tenants), as well as the ground floor retail space, which is leased to a bank. With the rent from the ground floor, the president's family purchased three other properties, also located in that prime area.

Between 1999 and 2005, however, the tenants appealed the decision, asking the court to nullify the 1999 inheritance certificate and hence the restitution of the property. The tenants outlined a different set of kinship indicators that sidelined the president's family. As they demonstrated in court, the three heirs of Nicolae's nephew were entitled to at most an eighth of the couple's estate, thus translating measurements into proportional access to resources (see introduction, this issue). Eliseu's share, the tenants argued, had actually been inherited by a childless and long-deceased sister (and ultimately the state). The tenants managed to stay in place through the hearings and, eventually, to retain ownership of their privatized apartments, while the president's family had to turn over the lucrative bank lease and 320,000 euros they had received in rent to the state. One may notice that reclaiming the property activated three successive kinship measurements, none of which turned out to be legally sound: (1) the invalid 1963 will, (2) recording the nephew as ‘natural’ kin of the expropriated husband, and (3) claiming the same nephew as ‘natural’ kin of the expropriated wife.

What is more, a media investigation in the village where the propertied couple is buried revealed at least two other alternative indicators for measuring kinship as closeness. Eliseu's ‘boundary kin’ was even more intricate.2 Marilyn Strathern (1981: 145–146) suggests that cousins can be “boundary relatives,” that is, persons “who may or may not be included as ‘family’ … [and who constitute] … a circle of relatives who may be regarded as near or distant depending on the context,” while Resto Cruz (2020) identifies cousinship as ‘boundary kin’. Aurel, the son of a cousin of Eliseu's, was also apparently his boundary kin, claiming that he had obtained an inheritance certificate in the 1990s. He pointed out that he had led the funerary procession for his cousin (the expropriated husband) when he was 12 years old, thus positioning himself as a very close relative through life-cycle ritual participation, but had not stepped forward because his wife had discouraged him. Another person who could have stepped forward but did not was the daughter-in-law of the caretaker of Eliseu's sister. When interviewed by reporters, she expressed disdain for all the people contacting her—media, “crooks,” and tenants affected by the restitution of the two houses—stating that she had burned all the papers and deeds the propertied couple had left behind.

The president's fortunes and the repeated reversals in (claims to) ownership wealth, as in many tens of thousands of other housing restitution trials in Romania, are an instance of (repeated) measurement of kinship by closeness (see Thelen and Lammer, this issue), in which claimants, tenants, and judicial authorities seek to determine how close the relations are between the actors of the inheritance scenario. Such measurements depended primarily on deploying and contesting legal documents to pinpoint ‘true’ closeness, including vital records (birth, marriage, and death certificates), property deeds, and wills. When two generations have passed between confiscation and restitution, such houses often end up being ‘returned’ to people who had only a fragile connection to the initial owners, let alone the houses themselves. How do putative inheritors and real estate agents assemble networks of living and deceased persons, documents, property deeds, wills, and duplicates that together allow them to lay claims of kinship closeness and its measurements?

As the opening vignette and the following empirical material suggest, the specific historical conjuncture in Romania makes contemporary measurements of past kinship a field of political-economic struggle about property by reconfiguring the boundary kin of the original owners. The focus on contestation of kinship indicators allows me to highlight not only the kind of labor that goes into stabilizing the networks of houses, archival sites, knowledge, and persons, but also how the expansion of kinship into the past goes hand in hand with stabilizing fundamental inequalities. As Katherine Verdery (2003: 173) notes, restitution “privileged a kind of personhood that was defined by having things and being embedded in kin relations extending into the past.” Such struggles bring to the fore kinship relations that reach into the past, thus broadening the scope of boundary kin across generations and, horizontally, within them. That expansion and reordering of boundary kin is viewed by current tenants as a dilution of kinship and an unjust accumulation of wealth. A process of extension and reordering proceeds has unfolded through measurements of kinship based primarily on ‘paper kinship’ (Chelcea 2016).

I extend Strathern's understanding of ‘boundary relative’ and Cruz's term ‘boundary kin’ in two ways. First, while Strathern and Cruz focus on cousins, the ethnographic material suggests that other relatives are similarly near or distant, depending on context, and thus may be productively analyzed as boundary kin. In the opening vignette, these other boundary kin were sons of cousins, nephews of adopted nephews, and daughters-in-law of the caretaker of the sister of the initial owner. Second, I emphasize the importance of documents that certify kinship, the heirs’ labor to obtain them, and the tenants’ efforts to challenge them in the measurement of nearness and distance. Distant and sometimes unknown kin may emerge in one's life, often through the power of documents that reveal the existence of past kin. Drawing on insights from the anthropology of documents, which urges ethnographers to pay attention to the materiality and circulation of bureaucratic and legal inscriptions (Hull 2008, 2012), I describe how the centrality of documents in the measurement of kinship opens up new possibilities for aspiring heirs, ranging from formalizing active and inactive kin relations through notaries to delaying, destroying, or forging documents. I also discuss how the absence of documents sets limits on agency since there can be no restitution without formalized kinship.

I draw here on long-term fieldwork that I have been carrying out with varying intensity since the early 2000s among families who are reclaiming urban land and housing confiscated by the socialist state in the 1950s and the tenant families who are contesting the inheritance rights of those claimants. Except for a few mass media reports on high-profile restitution cases like the president's, my data come from attending tenants’ protest meetings and court hearings; petitions sent to the Romanian Parliament by tenants, former owners, and potential heirs; records of court rulings; interviews with about 130 tenants and former property owners and potential heirs carried out in the early 2000s (mainly from the capital, Bucharest); and ongoing conversations with 15 lawyers, notaries, and judges over subsequent years. There is a diverse literature on housing restitution in Romania.3 My own sympathies on the opportunity and social effects of housing restitution have shifted from empathizing with small-time former owners during the early 2000s—although less so with families reclaiming substantial, multi-apartment buildings (Chelcea 2003)—to being sympathetic to disadvantaged tenants, increasingly evicted in the last decade (Zamfirescu and Chelcea 2021), but less to rich tenants who could have afforded to purchase other homes. The voices heard in this text are primarily those of tenants, although heirs and potential heirs are present as well. While tenants’ views on the measurements of kinship are obviously strategic and partial, I believe that they do speak to key questions about democracy, privilege, merit, inheritance, wealth distribution, and modernity previously raised in political thinking in early and late capitalist modernity (Beckert 2008; Piketty 2014, 2020).

In the first section, I document how various actors among the boundary kin of former owners came forward to engage in restitution efforts. The reworking and heightened importance of past kin relations in recent decades has led to an ‘inheritance bubble’, and I describe how the actors who benefit from this bubble identify potential heirs. The second section turns to tenants, documenting the ways that they resisted dispossession by questioning the belonging, kinship ties, and kinship measurements of heirs by bringing in considerations about past care, geographical distance, citizenship, genealogical distance, and residency in and repair of restituted houses. Tenants often understand restitution claims as illegitimate when they perceive them as too distant—genealogically and emotionally. In these cases, they challenge the measurements and might even attempt to disrupt the proceedings by contesting their validity or by hiding—and even physically destroying—legal documents such as wills, certificates of succession, and property deeds.

Emerging New Boundary Kin and the Formation of an Inheritance Bubble

Since the 1990s, housing restitution in Romania has been said to offer the promise of a ‘virtuous’ propertied middle class. It has been promoted as an accelerated process of historical inversion, reversing mid-twentieth-century housing policy reforms in Eastern Europe inspired by Friedrich Engels's ([1887] 1935) The Housing Question. In 1950, the Romanian government confiscated most (though not all) private rental housing, as well as some (usually large) owner-occupied homes. All in all, about 240,000 buildings were confiscated, mostly in large cities. Then as now, housing was an important form of wealth storage for both powerful and minor urban real estate actors, such as families whose life cycles were reflected in the size of the housing they had constructed for their children. Some of the appropriated buildings had dozens of apartments; others were family houses or just single apartments (see Chelcea 2003). These confiscation policies represented and accelerated a significant mid-twentieth-century form of wealth redistribution and radically diminished the importance of inheritance in Romania up to the 1990s.

With the end of socialist regimes, the return of those properties has emerged as a contentious issue in many formerly socialist countries. Restitution is one form of the “neo-proprietarian ideology” that has expanded since the 1970s, turbocharged by “the story of communism's failure, [and] the ‘Pandorian’ refusal to redistribute wealth” (Piketty 2020: 705). Virulently anti-communist and anti-socialist, the former owners and politicians who support it (and who are often heirs themselves) have emphasized the past labor of kin who lost houses, the sanctity of private property, and the past and present contributions of private property ownership to civic virtue. Despite legislation passed in 1995, 2001, 2005, and 2011, restitution remains an ongoing process, with about 50,000 files pending settlement. In a convoluted and shifting legal framework, restitution has evolved from a pre-1995 focus on individual litigation, where the burden of proof rested on former owners claiming property, to favoring privatization to the benefit of tenants between 1995 and 2001, to reversing tenant privatization and favoring in-kind restitution to the former owners (and, more realistically, their heirs) between 2001 and 2005, and finally to monetizing compensation through the creation of state-run compensation funds (Damsa 2016). As of 2013, the state had paid compensation worth about 5 billion euros and anticipated that further payments would total as much as 16 billion.4

Alongside the ‘loud’ ideological conflicts over housing restitution legislation, restitution is also represented in a layer of ‘quiet politics’ (Culpepper 2010) in the less visible realm of vital records (birth, marriage, and divorce records, inheritance certificates, property deeds, property tax receipts). Each restitution claim has involved a search for kinship indicators and the enactment of measurements of kinship to identify and secure rightful heirs, objects of restitution, and shares of inheritance rights. For heirs and the state, kinship measurements were preliminary but obligatory landmarks and seemingly depoliticized milestones on the way to reorganizing wealth. Many restitution claims stalled because they lacked certificates of inheritance issued by notaries. A 2013 report indicated that as many as 80 percent of the 38,000 claims filed by 2011 were stalled for this reason.5 Unlike other forms of kin verification in which states explore closeness between living kin through home visits, joint photographs, and frequency of communication (Borneman 1992; Leinaweaver et al. 2017; see also introduction, this issue), kin measurements for determining inheritance were directed at documents about birth, death, divorce, adoptions, wills—basic textual ways to record and track populations. Estimating closeness as kinship by a method based on counting grades of descent firmly anchors it in the past rather than detecting contemporary similarity or lived closeness (see Thelen and Lammer, this issue).

Extending the kinship measurements into the past, across generations, has had the effect of enlarging the number of individuals whose kinship closeness is measured. One study describes how housing restitution (in Berlin) turned into a ‘speculative bubble’ (Bernt 2016). By extension, one may approach restitution as an ‘inheritance bubble’, which encourages various characters from the boundary zone kin (and sometimes beyond them) to step forward and engage in an extractive form of inheritance characterized by short-term possession and commodification of restituted wealth. Restitution has opened unexpected and sometimes substantial financial opportunities for heirs. The considerable value stored in prime location housing turns latent, undecided, or indifferent potential heirs into active ones and attracts family, friends, and real estate speculators. The prospect of restituted wealth activates people who situate themselves as dependents of the formerly propertied relatives, through evidence of (often distant) descent, wills, apocryphal ties, or pro bono court representation by lawyers in return for equity in the restituted houses. One judge from the Czech Constitutional Court—in a country that, like Romania, permitted extensive transmission of restitution claims to descendants in kind—observed that the understanding of ‘natural’ heirs in the restitution legislation was “much broader than that of the Civil Code; whereas the Civil Code does not allow intestate succession for relatives anymore distant than brother or sister, [the restitution legislation] permits claims by nephews, nieces and even grandnephews and grandnieces, people who are somewhat distant relatives of the original owner” (Damsa 2016: 195).

The expansion and reworking of boundary kin of former owners became a frontier of capital accumulation. This worked through a ‘snowballing effect’6 set in motion by the high value of nationalized residences, especially in centrally located urban areas, which began attracting many potential claimants and even relatives who met for the first time when preparing restitution litigation (Chelcea 2016: 298). Wealth stored in housing subject to restitution (or sensing, searching, or anticipating it) demands heirs so that it can be restituted and then circulated and speculated upon. A multitude of actors participate in this process, sometimes in competition with each other, and use competing indicators of kinship to scale belonging for demonstrating—or refuting—the validity of claims to property. In addition to the occasional former owners themselves, such claimants include close relatives, but also those who claim to be ‘kin enough’ (see Moretti, this issue): ‘inheritance keepers’, lawyers, and real estate speculators willing to purchase contested rights.

Let me foreground the nature of boundary kin and the ways in which they are identified through measurement. Some were genealogically distant relatives or even family friends who had or could master some juridical knowledge. By analogy with the concept of ‘kinkeepers’ (Rosenthal 1985), they might be called ‘inheritance keepers’, that is, persons protecting and promoting potential inheritance rights. Inheritance keepers are key to heirs’ sociogenesis of intention, energizing them to pursue restitution. Inheritance keepers are self-appointed “custodians” (Magee 2015: 68) of family memories—and sometimes documents—about past and not yet recovered family property. One man, a descendant of a former aristocratic family from Bucharest, told me that he learned about two properties that his long-deceased paternal grandfather had owned prior to nationalization from some friends of his grandfather whom he met at the Jockey Club in Bucharest, an elite aristocratic club resurrected in the early 1990s. His own family had no recollection of the deceased relative's possession of those two pieces of real estate (although they were aware of others), but upon receiving that information from family friends, they engaged in restitution.

Inheritance keepers were particularly important for families who were legally entitled but hesitant or who lacked the legal knowledge, as well as former owners and direct heirs who had insufficient energy to seek restitution because of health problems. At other times, families doubted they had a chance. For example, I came across an heir of a landed family in Transylvania who urged her siblings to initiate the restitution procedure in the early 1990s. As they were living in Germany, they felt that they stood no chance. Heirs living abroad at first were legally excluded, and although they were later permitted to reclaim properties, non-Romanian citizenship was equated by tenants with distance and greed. The measurement of geographic distance was thus linked to moral assessment. This heir told her siblings that she wanted to go ahead and asked them to sign papers certifying that in the event that she was successful (she was), they gave up any claims. In some cases, heirs did not even know that they were entitled to compensation. Especially if families lost in court or missed the deadline for in-kind restitution, they might lose momentum and abandon the claim. If people in the extended family (collateral relations), family friends, or even acquaintances were more energetic and had some legal knowledge, they would become inheritance keepers, urging such families to authorize them to represent them in all legal dealings.

Beside inheritance keepers, the actors who remade boundary kin included lawyers, middlemen, and employees of the archives that store property deeds, wills, property tax receipts, and cadastral maps. Because many descendants of the former owners perceived litigation as a daunting task whose positive outcomes were dubious, such actors have sometimes stepped in when the prospect of restitution emerged. Once such snowballing agents established rapport with the former owners and their potential heirs, they could pursue a number of strategies on behalf of, instead of, or together with the heirs. Some agents offered to represent heirs in courts for free, in exchange for a percentage of the sale price if they should win, while others purchased the right to claim restitution for a tiny percentage of the property's potential sale price, which made sense if heirs were older and did not want to engage in lengthy court trials. One potential heir whom I interviewed in the early 2000s, who had already been in litigation for four years when I talked to her, explained on one occasion that “the mafia” (she did know who they were and how they worked) contacted her and offered to purchase her right to litigate for a quarter of what she thought the property was worth at the time. One lawyer whom I interviewed indicated that the rights to a property that on the market would sell for 1,000,000 euros might go for only 50,000 euros. Some have made fortunes through purchasing such rights from potential owners. One case widely covered in the media was the ‘Costanda-Parcul Bordei’ case, in which the City of Bucharest paid no less than 109,000,000 euros in 2018 to someone who had purchased the compensation rights for 3.3 hectares from two elderly heirs in 2003 for 14,000,000 euros.7

An important dynamic for such actors was the social life of an annex to the 1950 Nationalization Decree, which surfaced only in about 1993–1994. After the first major wave of state confiscation happened in 1950, the state drafted (but kept secret) a sizable annex to the decree, listing all the owners and the addresses and number of apartments expropriated from them. This was an important document because it allowed former owners to learn if their house had been ‘legally’ (by socialist state standards) or ‘illegally’ (with no deeds) appropriated by the state. The publication of the annex also allowed a number of movers and shakers to explore, contact, engage, and eventually extract value from the current owner, the state, or the tenants—interim users who had often lived there for decades. Like the compensation lists described by Matthew Hull (2008: 513), the activation of the nationalization annex resembles novelist Nikolai Gogol's registry of ‘dead souls’.

Based on the addresses listed in the Nationalization Decree, and in complicity with some of the archival personnel, such actors took stock of the property deeds in the archives (sale contracts, construction permits, cadastral inscriptions). Then they searched for the heirs of past owners (the owners themselves had usually died), trying to obtain their names and addresses. One way to find the heirs of the owners expropriated in 1950 (if any existed) was by consulting the Registry of Population (Evident,a Populat,iei), where birth, marriage, death, and immigration records are registered. One study uses a military image of a drone to describe these appropriation efforts, indicating that such actors “target many single buildings in different locations. To do so, they first strategically collect sensitive data on those buildings’ histories, their legal situation, and on the person and living situation of the heirs of their previous owners” (Kusiak 2019: 662). Once they identify a house, such actors search for and contact potential successors, offering legal services for free, or purchase the rights subject to litigation, discounting the prices heavily from their potential real estate value.

Yet the metaphor of the drone does not fully cover such actors’ modus operandi: they also relied on fieldwork to find potential heirs. Some of the former owners and their heirs continued to live in the same buildings after expropriation. One lawyer who was familiar with such procedures explained that one simply went to the same address and asked for the person recorded in the 1950 Nationalization Decree. “Is that person alive? She died! Oh, I see. I am a distant cousin. Who cared for her? Do you have that person's phone number?” was the kind of interaction that the lawyer described. Even if courts only accepted proofs and measurements of naturalized kinship, measurements of kinship as care were another technology to be employed, propelling the search for potential heirs among the boundary kin and thus fueling the inheritance bubble. The lawyer's usage of a generic and deceptive “distant cousin” to reference a “border zone” that “encompasses distance and intimacy, and sameness and difference” (Cruz 2020: 321) in such fieldwork operations is also significant, as that measurement is close enough to justify the inquiry, but distant enough not to raise suspicion.

Another lawyer whom I interviewed explained that at other times such actors “carpet bombed” the postal boxes with leaflets in central areas where the concentration of nationalized housing was high. He himself had received such a leaflet urging potential owners to contact a phone number to speed up restitution compensations. Snowballing often brought in lawyers who occasionally extended their cases laterally, in the vicinity of the address on whose restitution they worked. As they got to know the property rights history of one restitution case, they incidentally learned meaningful information about neighboring properties. One lawyer told me that after he had worked with one client, three neighbors of that client had approached him because he was successful in court. He already had the nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century plans, cadastral inscriptions, the names of the past owners, and the last purchase contracts. “If you had a case in one area, you get to know many more additional things compared to a lawyer who has worked elsewhere,” my interlocutor added. There have also been cases of forged wills. If no heirs could be found, whoever identified the property deeds in the state archives and was willing to take the risk could forge wills, using aged paper, altering the names on the property deeds, or sometimes asking witnesses to claim closeness in order to redirect the inheritance to somebody close to them.8 Other persons who might have appeared to the tenants as ‘fake relatives’ and ‘mafia’ were middlemen (“private detectives,” as one lawyer described them), hired by lawyers acting on behalf of heirs. Usually former police officers, property record clerks, and archivists who still maintained some of their previous workplace ties, they were in a position to speed up or slow down searches for documents or other information that was crucial for court cases. These strategies to assemble the kinship documents and coordinate the logistics of restitution, however, intersected with—and sometimes were shaped by—tenants’ efforts to disrupt heirs’ reworking of the boundary kin, to which I turn to in the next section.

Tenants’ Disruptions of Boundary Kin

Money, personal interest, utility, false sentimentalism, fake relatives, nobodies, speculators, mafias—I have often come across such framings of the agents of restitution expressed by tenants. Tenants connected genealogical distance, materialism, corruption, and illegitimacy when they talked about the agents who pursue restitution of past ownership. Where potential heirs saw righteous relatives who owned homes, tenants saw kinship ties that were strategically activated. They evaluated those seeking restitution as too distant or only latent kin, or even as money-driven non-kin, and therefore ‘wrong’ kin—all in all, persons who were not ‘kin enough’, as in the compensation negotiations discussed by Moretti (this issue).

Neither restitution policies nor their legitimacy has been uniformly accepted. In particular, restitution has been contested by tenants who have lived in the affected housing. Some scholars have problematized and politicized restitution as a way in which post-socialist states sought to promote capitalism and gain international acceptance (Appel 2005), as a form of post-socialist primitive accumulation (Chelcea 2006), as a speculative bubble (Bernt 2016), or as judicial robbery and legal dispossession (Kusiak 2019). Restitution and evictions have not created virtuous citizens, but rather owners of vacant real estate in prime locations, ideal for speculation. The new private owners often renovate such buildings and lease them to restaurants, businesses, private kindergartens, coffee shops, and rich tenants who can afford to pay market rent. At other times, restitution and its subsequent commercialization have led to ‘domicide’ (Lancione 2017; Zamfirescu 2015, 2019), with the new owners, often real estate investors, evicting tenants and demolishing the buildings immediately, leaving the land vacant until they can find money to build larger buildings and thus convert the land to capital (Lancione 2017; Popovici 2020). Even when not demolished, many restituted houses sit empty and tenant-free as the owners wait for buyers, credit, and building permits, or they even collapse due to neglect or being deliberately damaged, as is often the case with buildings protected as landmarks. There are entire ghost streets whose buildings have been restituted and left vacant after the owners legally evicted or chased away their tenants through intimidation, neglect, or rent increase. This cycle of restitution, eviction, demolition/abandonment, and real estate investment has reshaped central neighborhoods and has led to gentrification in Bucharest.

Tenants perceived this uncontrolled expansion of boundary kin into the past and outward, away from the formerly propertied original ancestor, as a source of dispossession. Since most tenants had never had contact with the former owners, let alone their boundary kin, they were suspicious of and occasionally aggressive toward people who physically approached ‘their’ houses. On several occasions, when I was attempting to initiate casual conversations on the street with tenants living under the specter of restitution, I was suspected of being a relative of the former owners. Tenants tried to make sense of the mystery and invisibility of restitution procedures and of the nature of the restitution agents by expressing doubts about the qualifications of the actors whom they came across.

In my research, tenants often experienced, read about, and made sense of the identity and status of restitution agents through generic and dismissive categories, such as ‘slick lawyers’, ‘rockets’, ‘mafias’, and ‘real estate crooks’, but they also terms that expressed kinship distance. In occasional slurs against heirs, tenants referenced and voiced moral complaints about ‘second-degree relatives’ (rude de gradul doi)—such as a cousin, nephew, aunt, uncle, or grandfather's cousin. A magazine devoted to the cause of tenants deplored how the houses that tenants occupy are “delivered … to nobodies: to persons whose names resemble [those of the initial owners], to relatives such as a second-degree aunt, or to those using the sinful testimonies of witnesses.” In these kinship measurements, the number two acquires an iconic dimension (Verran 2010: 172), constructing boundaries between kin and non-kin: it takes on a negative value, indicating exponential kin distance and casting ‘second-degree’ relatives as “chronically unstable persons” (Vilaça 2018: 9). That number collectivizes tenants’ experiences into a common narrative about restitution as unlawful dispossession, thus representing “imperfection, evil, and disorder … duplicity, the double life” (Lévy-Bruhl, cited in ibid.: 10). While the strength of numbers often springs from alleged objectivity, universality, and synoptic vision (Kravel-Tovi 2016: 7), when numbers are used in measurements of kinship, they do not manufacture consensus about belonging. Instead, they add new layers of meaning and moral judgment (see Thelen and Lammer, this issue).

Accordingly, many tenants view the ideal beneficiary of restitution as someone embedded in direct ownership of houses at the moment of restitution, rather than in inheritance. Excluding descendants and thus eliminating inheritance establishes a direct link between past ownership, knowledge, the intentionality of transmission of the property rights, and restitution. For instance, one tenant, who probably had some legal training and whose petition I saw in the archive of the Romanian Parliament, thought that restitution should be applied “only to those who have exercised all three attributes [of property]: utendi, fruendi, abutendi [ownership, use, and disposal], as the Roman law has it. That way, the vultures and speculators of the past would be excluded.” Such a policy would allow very few former owners to claim houses after decades of nationalization, as only about 1 percent of all potential claimants still occupied ‘their’ houses. Not only non-resident kin would be excluded, but everyone else, including spouses and direct descendants, who had not been listed on the documents certifying ownership.

I heard this argument at one meeting of the Tenants’ Association that I attended in 2001. Held in a centrally located but shabby auditorium, it attracted about 500 tenants. At one point, a speaker lashed out against the former owners: “The voracious [samsar] owners are not alive anymore. Now, I am asking you, how was the grandson to know that he would inherit from the grandfather? When the former died, his house was not part of his [grandson's] patrimony!” The authenticity of kinship relations is measured by tenants through the length of habitation, direct and shared knowledge of the restitution object, and intentionality of wealth transmission between kin, rather than Civil Code categories. One tenant linked suffering, kinship, and moral rights to restitution claims, grounding legitimate restitution in the amount of suffering that one has endured because of nationalization:

The former owners whose property rights were directly affected and who are still alive are few. Similarly, there are direct descendants who had to suffer following the [state's] harassment of their parents and who rightly claim their property. But many, many claims for restitution are not put forth by them. After December 1989, various characters emerged who … ask for ‘reparations’, that is, to have the state return properties to them to which they always had been strangers. They don't even know what the buildings they vehemently claim look like, leaving aside the fact that they did not contribute in any way to their maintenance.

The tenant pointed out what one legal scholar calls the “non-identity problem” in restitution: “In intergenerational corrections of past wrongs … the descendants would not have had any claim to inherit such goods after death, as the goods had already left their parent's patrimony … therefore, no restitution is required to descendants on grounds of justice” (Damsa 2016: 186). That tenant stipulated a unity between possession, usage, suffering, and knowledge of the building. Maintenance of houses was a central pillar of entitlement for tenants (Besky 2017). In interviews I have heard many stories about home improvements, remodeling, and updated connectivity to urban infrastructure, including natural gas lines, new water pipes and cables, and additional bathrooms, which were paid for by the current tenants.

Some tenants contested the kinship indicators and evidence deployed by heirs in courts. Attempting to undermine those efforts by inserting themselves into the restitution dynamics, tenants sought to cut specific lines of kin, belonging, and succession (see also Stolz, this issue). Most often, such disruptions have targeted existing documents, as shown by the examples below. Occasionally, tenants have slowed down or even blocked restitution efforts by destroying or contesting in courts vital documents that the former owners and their heirs need. Other times, tenants have sought to act on the materiality and social career of documents—that is, how documents are “duplicated, bound to other artifacts, supplemented, fabricated, defaced … circulated, delayed, locked up, stored, misplaced, lost, forgotten, stolen, and bought” (Hull 2008: 505). Such processes were central to the documents used in the measurements of kinship as well. Some disruptions of documents have been very local, affecting a single building, and based on shared memory of the former owners’ kin. Other disruptions have targeted the state archives where documents are held, forcing lengthy and complicated court procedures.

I accidentally came across such a case when I was looking from the street into a courtyard on my way home in Bucharest. It was a rather typical courtyard in central Bucharest, with several nationalized low-rise buildings situated in a row behind a main building facing the street. An older woman who was sweeping the sidewalk in front of the house started to tell me that she had lived there as a tenant for 60 years since before nationalization, and that ideally she would have liked to buy her home. When I asked why she did not buy it, she said that she and the other tenants had had problems with relatives of the recently deceased former owner. The former landlord had lived in one of the houses from nationalization until her death. The tenants took care of her and bought her medicines because, as my informant phrased it, they had a “functional yard community.” As one study notes: “Care practices can create personal relationships but also interrupt or devalue them” (Thelen 2020: 7). In underlining both (the lack of) care and geographical distance as indicators of kinship distance, my informant pointed out that it was the tenants who had buried the former landlord when she died, not the out-of-town relatives who were trying to reclaim the buildings. Such silenced histories of long-term cohabitation have heavy moral weight (Grama 2020). Caring (usually for elderly kin, but in this case for neighbors) carries a sense of closeness that is seen as linked to entitlement for inheritance, as one study of the conflicts between siblings in unified Germany shows (Thelen 2006: 185). As a result, as soon as tenants learned that the relatives wanted to take back the houses, they searched for, found, and tore up the property deeds that the elderly woman had kept in her room. That was quite a blow for the relatives of the former owner and created a significant delay in archival documentation and retrieval of proof of ownership. The case brought by the relatives of the elderly lady, according to my interlocutor, had by that time been going on for no less than eight years.

While that situation was based on claiming kin closeness through shared habitation, at other times powerful tenants could carry out similar archival erasures. Not all tenants were poor. In fact, the most attractive nationalized housing was leased to those who held important positions in the administration prior to—and in some cases after the end of—socialism (Chelcea 2006). In the context of restitution struggles, the power of such tenants was grounded in their ability to find people (often ex-police or ex-local administration personnel) who could get archives staff to destroy key records affecting the legal situation of the house they occupied. The former owner of one house said that her tenant was a retired colonel who had been an employee at the state archives. According to her, the tenant intervened with his former colleagues to try to stop the search for documents that would have helped her win the case.

Similarly, one lawyer expressed surprise that when he was looking for comparable property deeds of the same former owner in the same archive, he could find some but not others. He also remembered a case that he lost because his client had only uncertified copies of property records (in that case, a purchase contract). In order to win, he needed the original document from the state archives, but it was simply not there anymore. He was sure that the tenant, whom he described as powerful and aggressive, had succeeded in having the archives staff destroy the original copy, together with the subsequent receipts for the property taxes that his clients had paid prior to nationalization. The disappearance of less important property documents (such as building permits) has also had important consequences for many former owners as judges sometimes infer property rights to houses built long ago from fragmented or indirect evidence like handwritten contracts, building permits, tax receipts, or cadastral maps. Complete court files have been misplaced or destroyed by court clerks while waiting to be presented before judges. One tenant whom I interviewed when she was facing restitution of her home said that a court archival clerk had suggested stealing the entire restitution file that the ex-owners had submitted—he was willing to do this for 100 US dollars. I heard and read about other cases where restitution files disappeared, were misplaced, or were withheld from the judge during hearings.Such erasures significantly impede restitution verdicts, complicating and delaying the measurements of kinship that underwrite restitution.

Conclusion

In this article, I have described the intimate link between measurements of kinship, documents, and the political economy of housing restitution. The process has fueled an inheritance bubble that has extended the zone of boundary kin way into the past. The legal inscriptions of procreation-centered kinship by relatives who seek housing restitution co-exist and collide with bitter contestations by current tenants who question and seek to disrupt the authenticity, and also the legitimacy, of the understanding of kinship as descent.

Heirs present inheritance as simple, Civil Code–based algebraic operations based on kinship as descent. By contrast, in their attempt to limit the restitution, tenants question and occasionally disrupt the official kinship inscription deployed in courts by the former owners. Tenants are more restrictive about what should count as kin. They attempt to scale down belonging and challenge related rights by embedding the measurement of kinship in past suffering, care, intentionality of wealth transmission between generations, maintenance and repair of houses, lived closeness, geographical proximity, past inhabitance, and direct knowledge of lost housing.

Tenants’ political fights over kinship measurements speak directly to core contemporary conversations about accumulation of wealth through inheritance in early and late capitalism (Piketty 2014). Where heirs claim a direct, death-transcending relation with the initial owner of the house, tenants construct clear boundaries between the dead and the living and between property rights and inheritance rights. Tenants’ arguments for restricting inheritance rights place them in the distant company of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century political and social thinkers who engaged essential problems of capitalism, democracy, and inheritance (Beckert 2008: 5, 13). It is true that someone may have worked to accumulate wealth, but what labor did his or her heirs put into that? tenants ask. What should happen to the wealth accumulated during a lifetime? Are wealth and the earth made for the living to enjoy, or for the dead to decide in spite of the living? Should private property extend beyond generations and be transmitted across them? Tenants and their measurements of kinship should not be exoticized as communist others and dated relics of a bygone era, but rather as participants and factors in contemporary core debates about inequality, democracy, kinship, and personhood.

The ethnographic material reinforces the view that kinship measurements underlie negotiations of belonging and are intimately linked with struggles around the distribution of wealth. Kinship measurements related to disputes over property rights can be seen to reinforce and expand genealogical bonds into the past. The contested legitimacy of such measurements and their expansion into the past foreground the importance of the extraction, production, and circulation of documents. Measurements of present and past kinship depend on the assembling of diverse elements that contribute to expanding or contracting the border zone of kin. In these processes, different understandings of kinship translated into measurements can reproduce or challenge both power and economic inequalities.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Tatjana Thelen and Christof Lammer for their detailed and constructive feedback and for their invitation to contribute to this special issue.

Notes

1

On genealogies as powerful tools for displaying and measuring kinship, see the introduction to this issue. For the use of genealogical charts in eugenics and medicine, see McKinnon and Jabloner (both this issue).

2

Rise Project, “The Deceased from Whom Klaus Iohannis Became Rich,” https://www.riseproject.ro/mortul-de-pe-urma-caruia-s-a-imbogatit-klaus-iohannis/.

3

See, among others, Damsa (2016); Şerban (2019) on nationalization, socialist legality, legislation, and post-socialist restitution; Iancu and Manolache (2016); Lancione (2017); McElroy 2019, 2020); Popovici (2020); Zamfirescu and Chelcea (2021); and Zerilli (2006) on tenants, gentrification, and the eviction of tenants.

4

Reported in 2013 by Romania's public television station, Televiziunea Română, http://stiri.tvr.ro/mafia-retrocedarilor-si-plangerile-la-cedo-pentru-recuperarea-proprietatilor-de-drept_28583.html#view (accessed 15 March 2020).

5

Ibid.

6

I draw inspiration from the concept of the ‘snowball state’ that incorporated men and women as dependent kin in the military expansion of Ngoni state and created “an inflationary spiral in population” (J. A. Barnes, quoted in Ferguson 2013: 226), as well as Marx's (1975: 266) depiction of entailed feudal landed property, which encompassed not only objects, but also people who belonged to those objects.

7

For more details about this case, see the online daily Evenimentul Zilei, https://evz.ro/parcul-bordei-costanda.html, 17 June 2019.

References

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    • Search Google Scholar
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    • Search Google Scholar
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    • Search Google Scholar
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  • Hull, Matthew S. 2008. “Ruled by Records: The Expropriation of Land and the Misappropriation of Lists in Islamabad.” American Ethnologist 35 (4): 501518. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1548-1425.2008.00095.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Iancu, Bogdan, and Cosmin Manolache. 2016. “Locuinţe în spaţii disputate” [Living in disputed spaces]. In De la strada la ansambluri rezidenţiale [From the street to residential complexes], ed. Cristina Boboc, 143159. Bucharest: ProUniversitaria.

    • Search Google Scholar
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    • Export Citation
  • Leinaweaver, Jessaca B., Diana Marre, and Susan E. Frekko. 2017.“‘Homework’ and Transnational Adoption Screening in Spain: The Co-production of Home and Family.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23 (3): 562579. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.12652.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Magee, Siobhan. 2015. “Of Love and Fur: Grandmothers, Class, and Pre-mortem Inheritance in a Southern Polish City.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 21 (1): 6685. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.12148

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McElroy, Erin. 2020. “Digital Nomads in Siliconising Cluj: Material and Allegorical Double Dispossession.” Urban Studies 57 (15): 30783094. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098019847448

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Piketty, Thomas. 2020. Capital and Ideology. Trans. Arthur Goldhammer. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University.

  • Popovici, Veda. 2020. “Residences, Restitutions and Resistance: A Radical Housing Movement's Understanding of Post-socialist Property Redistribution.” City: Analysis of Urban Change, Theory, Action 24 (1–2): 97111. https://doi.org/10.1080/13604813.2020.1739913.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rosenthal, Carolyn J. 1985. “Kinkeeping in the Familial Division of Labor.” Journal of Marriage and Family 47 (4): 965974. https://doi.org/10.2307/352340

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Şerban, Mihaela. 2019. Subverting Communism in Romania: Law and Private Property, 1945–1965. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

  • Strathern, Marilyn. 1981. Kinship at the Core. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Thelen, Tatjana. 2020. “Care as Belonging, Difference, and Inequality.” Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Anthropology. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190854584.013.353.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verdery, Katherine. 2003. The Vanishing Hectare: Property and Value in Postsocialist Transylvania. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verran, Helen. 2010. “Number as an Inventive Frontier in Knowing and Working Australia's Water Resources.” Anthropological Theory 10 (1–2): 171178. https://doi.org/10.1177/1463499610365383.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vilaça, Aparecida. 2018. “The Devil and the Hidden Life of Numbers: Translations and Transformations in Amazonia.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 8 (1–2): 619. https://doi.org/10.1086/698303.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zamfirescu, Irina. 2015. “Housing Eviction, Displacement and the Missing Social Housing of Bucharest.” Calitatea Viet,ii 26 (2): 140154.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zamfirescu, Irina. 2019. Artele Evacuărilor: Lumile Locuirii Precare în Bucuresti [The arts of evacuation: The world of precarious housing in Bucharest]. Bucharest: University of Bucharest Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zamfirescu, Irina, and Liviu Chelcea. 2021. “Evictions as Infrastructural Events.” Urban Geography 42 (9): 12701291. https://doi.org/10.1080/02723638.2020.1778281

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zerilli, Filippo M. 2006. “Sentiments and/as Property Rights: Restitution and Conflict in Postsocialist Romania.” In Postsocialism: Politics and Emotions in Central and Eastern Europe, ed. Maruška Svašek, 7494. New York: Berghahn Books.

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Contributor Notes

Liviu Chelcea is a Professor in the Department of Sociology, University of Bucharest, and holds a PhD in Anthropology (2004) from the University of Michigan. In the past he has published on transformations of housing, marginality, infrastructures, and gentrification in central Bucharest, thanks to grants from the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the Fulbright Program. His current project is about tap water in New York City. E-mail: liviu.chelcea@sas.unibuc.ro

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

  • Appel, Hilary. 2005. “Anti-Communist Justice and Founding the Post-Communist Order: Lustration and Restitution in Central Europe.” East European Politics and Societies 19 (3): 379405. https://doi.org/10.1177/0888325405278020

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bernt, Matthias. 2016. “How Post-Socialist Is Gentrification? Observations in East Berlin and Saint Petersburg.” Eurasian Geography and Economics 57 (4–5): 565587. https://doi.org/10.1080/15387216.2016.1259079.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Beckert, Jens. 2008. Inherited Wealth. Trans. Thomas Dunlop. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

  • Besky, Sarah. 2017. “Fixity: On the Inheritance and Maintenance of Tea Plantation Houses in Darjeeling, India.” American Ethnologist 44 (4): 617631. https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.12561

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Borneman, John. 1992. Belonging in the Two Berlins: Kin, State, Nation. New York: Cambridge University Press.

  • Chelcea, Liviu. 2003. “Ancestors, Domestic Groups, and the Socialist State: Housing Nationalization and Restitution in Romania.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 45 (4): 714740. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0010417503000331

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chelcea, Liviu. 2006. “Marginal Groups in Central Places: Gentrification, Property Rights and Post-socialist Primitive Accumulation (Bucharest, Romania).” In Social Changes and Social Sustainability in Historical Urban Centres: The Case of Central Europe, ed. György Enyedi and Zoltán Kovács, 127146. Pécs: Centre for Regional Studies of Hungarian Academy of Science.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Chelcea, Liviu. 2016. “Kinship of Paper: Genealogical Charts as Bureaucratic Documents.” PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review 39 (2): 294311. https://doi.org/10.1111/plar.12195

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Cruz, Resto. 2020. “Siblingship beyond Siblings? Cousins and the Shadows of Social Mobility in the Central Philippines.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 26 (2): 321342. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.13250

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Culpepper, Pepper D. 2010. Quiet Politics and Business Power: Corporate Control in Europe and Japan. New York: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Damşa, Liviu. 2016. The Transformation of Property Regimes and Transitional Justice in Central Eastern Europe: In Search of a Theory. Cham: Springer.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Engels, Friedrich. (1887) 1935. The Housing Question. New York: International Publishers.

  • Ferguson, James. 2013. “Declarations of Dependence: Labour, Personhood, and Welfare in Southern Africa.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 19 (2): 223242. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.12023

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Grama, Emanuela. 2020. “A Deconstruction Story: Property, Memory, and Temporality in a Transylvanian Village.” History and Anthropology 31 (5): 618642. https://doi.org/10.1080/02757206.2020.1830385

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hull, Matthew S. 2008. “Ruled by Records: The Expropriation of Land and the Misappropriation of Lists in Islamabad.” American Ethnologist 35 (4): 501518. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1548-1425.2008.00095.x

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hull, Matthew S. 2012. “Documents and Bureaucracy.” Annual Review of Anthropology 41: 251267. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.anthro.012809.104953.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Iancu, Bogdan, and Cosmin Manolache. 2016. “Locuinţe în spaţii disputate” [Living in disputed spaces]. In De la strada la ansambluri rezidenţiale [From the street to residential complexes], ed. Cristina Boboc, 143159. Bucharest: ProUniversitaria.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kravel-Tovi, Michal. 2016. “Introduction: Counting in Jewish.” In Taking Stock: Cultures of Enumeration in Contemporary Jewish Life, ed. Michal Kravel-Tovi and Deborah Dash Moore, 125. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kusiak, Joanna. 2019. “Legal Technologies of Primitive Accumulation: Judicial Robbery and Dispossession-by-Restitution in Warsaw.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 43 (4): 649665. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2427.12827

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lancione, Michele. 2017. “Revitalising the Uncanny: Challenging Inertia in the Struggle against Forced Evictions.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 35 (6): 10121032. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263775817701731

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Leinaweaver, Jessaca B., Diana Marre, and Susan E. Frekko. 2017.“‘Homework’ and Transnational Adoption Screening in Spain: The Co-production of Home and Family.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 23 (3): 562579. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.12652.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Magee, Siobhan. 2015. “Of Love and Fur: Grandmothers, Class, and Pre-mortem Inheritance in a Southern Polish City.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 21 (1): 6685. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.12148

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Marx, Karl. 1975. Collected Works of Karl Marx. Vol. 3. New York: International Publishers.

  • McElroy, Erin. 2019. “Digital Nomads and Settler Desires: Racial Fantasies of Silicon Valley Imperialism.” Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies 10 (1): 215249. https://doi.org/10.17742/IMAGE.CR.10.1.8

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • McElroy, Erin. 2020. “Digital Nomads in Siliconising Cluj: Material and Allegorical Double Dispossession.” Urban Studies 57 (15): 30783094. https://doi.org/10.1177/0042098019847448

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Piketty, Thomas. 2014. Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Trans. Arthur Goldhammer. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Piketty, Thomas. 2020. Capital and Ideology. Trans. Arthur Goldhammer. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University.

  • Popovici, Veda. 2020. “Residences, Restitutions and Resistance: A Radical Housing Movement's Understanding of Post-socialist Property Redistribution.” City: Analysis of Urban Change, Theory, Action 24 (1–2): 97111. https://doi.org/10.1080/13604813.2020.1739913.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rosenthal, Carolyn J. 1985. “Kinkeeping in the Familial Division of Labor.” Journal of Marriage and Family 47 (4): 965974. https://doi.org/10.2307/352340

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Şerban, Mihaela. 2019. Subverting Communism in Romania: Law and Private Property, 1945–1965. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

  • Strathern, Marilyn. 1981. Kinship at the Core. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Thelen, Tatjana. 2006. “Law and Mutual Assistance in Families: A Comparison of Socialist Legacies in Hungary and Eastern Germany.” Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law 38 (53–54): 177207.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Thelen, Tatjana. 2020. “Care as Belonging, Difference, and Inequality.” Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Anthropology. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190854584.013.353.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verdery, Katherine. 2003. The Vanishing Hectare: Property and Value in Postsocialist Transylvania. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Verran, Helen. 2010. “Number as an Inventive Frontier in Knowing and Working Australia's Water Resources.” Anthropological Theory 10 (1–2): 171178. https://doi.org/10.1177/1463499610365383.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vilaça, Aparecida. 2018. “The Devil and the Hidden Life of Numbers: Translations and Transformations in Amazonia.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 8 (1–2): 619. https://doi.org/10.1086/698303.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zamfirescu, Irina. 2015. “Housing Eviction, Displacement and the Missing Social Housing of Bucharest.” Calitatea Viet,ii 26 (2): 140154.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zamfirescu, Irina. 2019. Artele Evacuărilor: Lumile Locuirii Precare în Bucuresti [The arts of evacuation: The world of precarious housing in Bucharest]. Bucharest: University of Bucharest Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zamfirescu, Irina, and Liviu Chelcea. 2021. “Evictions as Infrastructural Events.” Urban Geography 42 (9): 12701291. https://doi.org/10.1080/02723638.2020.1778281

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Zerilli, Filippo M. 2006. “Sentiments and/as Property Rights: Restitution and Conflict in Postsocialist Romania.” In Postsocialism: Politics and Emotions in Central and Eastern Europe, ed. Maruška Svašek, 7494. New York: Berghahn Books.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

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