Cultural Politics in Greater Romania: Regionalism, Nation Building & Ethnic Struggle, 1918-1930

Cultural Politics in Greater Romania: Regionalism, Nation Building & Ethnic Struggle, 1918-1930

Cultural Politics in Greater Romania: Regionalism, Nation Building & Ethnic Struggle, 1918-1930

Cultural Politics in Greater Romania: Regionalism, Nation Building & Ethnic Struggle, 1918-1930

Synopsis

Since the fall of the Ceausescu regime, Romanian politics have been haunted by unresolved issues of the past. Irina Livezeanu examines a critical chapter in Eastern European history-the trajectory of the aggressive nationalism that dominated Romania between the world wars.

Excerpt

In the mid-1980s, when I began the research on which this book is based, Romania's 1920s seemed a distant, completely closed historical period, a golden age of cultural flowering and freedom which shimmered all the brighter for the "darkness" that had enveloped the country after 1947, and especially in the second half of the Ceauşescu regime. Dissident intellectuals from Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia were popularizing nostalgic notions of their Western precommunist past, Milan Kundera reviving the immediately successful label "Central Europe" for those Eastern European countries that were more western than others. Romanians joined the scramble to fit their realm into Kundera's European Center, implicitly about to break off from the rest of the bloc and rejoin Europe, that is, Western Europe. The whole area west of the Soviet Union which became the Soviet bloc has been described by western historians as "independent Eastern Europe" in the years between the two world wars. This idealized aura of democracy, independence, opportunity, and creativity first attracted me to the study of interwar Eastern Europe. My historical curiosity was further aroused by the demise of democracy in interwar East Central Europe long before the area's Sovietization. In the debates during the 1970s and 1980s over Central Europe's tragic fate under communism, this topic was largely ignored. The dissidents argued their cultural and political case for disengagement from the Soviet Big Brother without reference to the political and ethnic problems that had marked the history of East Central Europe before communism. Perhaps not accidentally, the pre—World War I multinational Habsburg Empire featured prominently in their writings. But no conscientious student of history could help noticing the crisis-ridden transition from multinational empires to national independence, or the ethnic nationalism endemic in Eastern Europe in the interwar period. Accounts that pointed only to the international causes of dictatorship, authoritarianism, and collectivism—invoked explicitly by communist . . .

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