Transforming Peasants, Property and Power: The Collectivization of Agriculture in Romania, 1949-1962

Transforming Peasants, Property and Power: The Collectivization of Agriculture in Romania, 1949-1962

Transforming Peasants, Property and Power: The Collectivization of Agriculture in Romania, 1949-1962

Transforming Peasants, Property and Power: The Collectivization of Agriculture in Romania, 1949-1962

Synopsis

A central element in the formation of Eastern European state socialism, the collectivization of agriculture touched the lives of many more citizens than the transformations in industry. Despite its profound long-term socio-political implications, the process of land collectivization has not been subject to comprehensive research. The product of an interdisciplinary project, this book fills this lacuna in the academic literature: a highly integrated, theory-driven collective work of leading historians, anthropologists, sociologists and literary critics from the US, the UK, Hungary and Romania. The book analyzes the campaign of collectivization in Romania, between 1949 and 1962. Parallel to presenting national policies and practices (i.e., property legislation, and political debates), field research explores in case studies, working across a broad span of communities and experiences, what types of new peasant-state relations were formed through collectivization.

Excerpt

Gail Kligman

Katherine Verdery

The present volume is the result of an interdisciplinary collaborative project entitled Transforming Property, Persons, and State: Collectivization in Romania, 19491962, which we initiated in 1998. the project was the fruit of the extensive research each of us had conducted separately over more than three decades; we wanted finally to carry out a project together. in the early 1990s, while Robert Levy was conducting research on the life and political activity of Ana Pauker for his dissertation at ucla, he identified numerous unpublished documents concerning collectivization. At the same time, we were each in the Romanian villages where we have worked for many years, researching the processes of decollectivization and postsocialist transformation, with the aid of oral histories. the convergence of these research themes suggested that the history of collectivization was ideal for a joint project.

This is a very complex subject, one far exceeding our joint capacities. Therefore, we formulated the project as a multi-disciplinary, collaborative endeavor and invited a number of Romanian colleagues to join us. We also invited Robert Levy, Michael Stewart (anthropologist, University College, London), and Linda Miller (legal consultant, New York and Bucharest). the disciplines included in our team were history, anthropology, sociology, ethnography, law, and literary criticism. Our main objectives in selecting our research team were to foster cooperation that was not only international and interdisciplinary, but also intergenerational. Toward this end, we invited a number of doctoral students and young researchers to join our project as well.

The methods we adopted combined techniques and sources from all the disciplines represented, with particular emphasis on archival documents, official statistics, legislation, and oral history interviews. in using these sources, we profited greatly from the different experiences and skills of our team members. the historians provided instruction on how to use archives—where to find the various collections, how they were created, what problems to anticipate—and the anthropologists, sociologists, and ethnographers underscored the necessity of careful research preparation within a shared conceptual framework. We discussed at length how to carry out the interviews, what kinds of questions all team members should pursue, and the categories of individuals we should interview. Seeking as diverse a group of respondents as possible, we included people of different re-

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