Key Concepts of Romanian History

Key Concepts of Romanian History: Alternative Approaches to Socio-Political Languages

Victor Neumann
Armin Heinen
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 518
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Key Concepts of Romanian History
    Book Description:

    The theoretical analyses and interpretations contained in the studies of this volume focus on key-concepts such as: politics, politician, democracy, Europe, liberalism, constitution, property, progress, kinship, nation, national character and specificity, homeland, patriotism, education, totalitarianism, democracy, democratic, democratization, transition. The essays unveil specific aspects belonging to Romania’s past and present. They also offer alternative perspectives on the Romanian culture through the relationship between the elite and society, and novel reflections on the delayed and unfinished modernization processes within the society and the state. The editors articulate the results coming from various sciences, such as history, linguistics, sociology, political sciences, and philosophy with the aim that the past and present profiles of Romania are better understood.

    eISBN: 978-615-5225-58-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface to the English Edition
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Victor Neumann and Armin Heinen
  4. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Victor Neumann and Armin Heinen

    Decoding key-concepts of Romanian socio-political languages is a welcome and useful endeavor for understanding the past, for the thorough theoretical grounding of the present, as well as for the thoughtful planning of future projects. Conceptual history contributes to acquiring knowledge about the semantics of concepts throughout their evolution in time. This innovative method of history elaborated for the German case by Reinhart Koselleck is also highly applicable to Romanian culture, since a significant number of the concepts employed in the latter stem from the nineteenth century, expressing ideals that are alien to our times. When examined in its relation to...

  5. Is Rewriting Romanian History Useful? The Evolution of Socio-Political Concepts and Alternative Interpretations
    (pp. 1-26)
    Victor Neumann

    Scholarly publications of the last few decades prove that worldwide historiography has diversified its research tools and opted for fundamental methodological changes as far as approaching the past is concerned. Thanks to conjoined efforts on the part of historians, linguists, and philosophers, history has been significantly enriched and has gained a respectable status in the hierarchy of humanist sciences. Historians have become particularly drawn to interrogations, problematizations, and innovatory explanations. Their aim is not simply to narrate facts, but to comprehend them, to thoroughly investigate them and to ultimately formulate judgments of value. In order to be credible and persuasive,...

  6. On the Process of Writing the History of Romania: Methodological Issues
    (pp. 27-44)
    Armin Heinen

    Even if, thematically speaking, Romanian historiography has broadened its horizons, and contemporary Romanian history, in particular, has been the object of more in-depth analyses than in the past, Cristina and Dragoş Petrescu hold that, overall, post-1989 Romanian historiography has been less innovatory.¹ Romanian Studies have made a modest progress in point of scientific results. Rather than aspiring to methodological innovations, the post-1989 Romanian historical science has aimed to free itself from ideological assertions by letting the sources speak for themselves and try to discover the “truth.” “What actually happened?” (Rilke)—historians have formulated this question as a reaction to dictators’...

  7. Some Reflections on Historical Semantics, Political Modernity and Romanian History (1780–1939)
    (pp. 45-76)
    Alexandre Escudier

    Any general theory of history does not allow itself to be hindered by constraints. Any story claiming that it “really happened” is condemned to a minimum of analytical reflection surrounding the hypotheses of its own practice. Between these two extremes, a middle ground is possible. In what follows, I will propose this very middle ground as a theoretical approach to conceptual history by applying classical political concepts to Romanian socio-political history. Irrespective of the empirical approach used, Europeans share a common horizon of knowledge: they investigate the empirical meanings of historical semantics by comparing them to political modernity. This happens...

  8. The Concept of Patriotism in Romanian Culture
    (pp. 77-106)
    Klaus Bochmann

    The concept of patriotism continues to be as controversial as it used to be in the past. Apart from ideologies, it most often refers to a positive phenomenon which mirrors one’s emotional ties to one’s own state and/or nation. It is different from nationalism, which represents a negative phenomenon fostering the feeling of superiority towards other nations. In Cugetări postume (Posthumous Meditations ), Romanian philosopher Vasile Conta considered that patriotism is “the moral basis of a people […], without it we cannot conceive of life, let alone of state.” Other scholars considered that there is no essential difference between “positive”...

  9. Romanian Liberalism (1821–1866)
    (pp. 107-130)
    Keith Hitchins

    This paper investigates the evolution of the Romanian concept of liberalism between 1821 and 1866, from Tudor Vladimirescu’s movement in Wallachia to the creation of the Cărvunari Constitution in Moldavia and up to the promulgation of the first Constitution of united Romania in 1866.¹ It was during this half century that the coherent expression of liberal principles emerged, a process that was accompanied by and dependent to a certain degree upon the changes undertaken by the Romanian socio-political language. This period served as a launching platform for the concept of liberalism.

    The investigation of the political ideas that have come...

  10. Democracy, Democratic, Democratization
    (pp. 131-152)
    Wim van Meurs

    Examining the processes of democratization is important for assessing and understanding the pluralist meanings of socio-political languages. Present-day Western scholars have been drawn mainly to investigating the beginnings of democracy, which occurred over a century ago, and conceptualizing it.¹ In former communist countries, the relation between the present-day concept of democracy and its historical evolution is strongly politicized. Pre-communist democracies in these regions have been particularly idealized and deemed an important component in the consolidation of a new democratic regime.

    Most national historiographies started from the premise that interwar regimes had to be qualified as “democratic.” This never-questioned normative assessment...

  11. The Concept of Progress: The Fraught Relation between Liberalism and State Intervention
    (pp. 153-182)
    Angela Harre

    The Romanian concept of progres (progress) best corresponds to the German Fortschritt—it is a derivation of the same French language word, namely the notion of progressus that comes from Latin. The concept entered the Romanian language around 1821, when boyar and Chancellor Dinicu Golescu (1777–1830) went and joined the nobility that had found refuge in Habsburg Transylvania during a revolt. During his brief exile, Golescu became for the first time aware of the comparative backward state of Moldavia and Wallachia, and confronted it. His trips to Western Europe in 1824, 1825 and 1826 completed the image of a...

  12. The Concept of Property in Romania’s Economic-Legal History
    (pp. 183-222)
    Dietmar Müller

    The concept and institution of property belong to the vocabulary and basic inventory of modern societies. Starting with the American and French revolutions at the end of the eighteenth century, the right to property and the state’s guarantee of its inviolability fell under the broader scope of human rights. This happened after the idea of property rights had already played a central role in the thought of English or Scottish philosophers and economists like Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Adam Smith, or in the thought of Immanuel Kant.¹ The promise of universal and formally non-discriminatory property rights consists in creating...

  13. The Notion of Europe from the Perspective of Romanian Historical Studies
    (pp. 223-262)
    Hans-Christian Maner

    Despite the political and economic changes that occurred at the beginning of the twentieth century, the analysis of the notion Europe has regained its central role. In spite of the expansion of the European Union, studies on this topic are complex.¹ Given that, it would be preferable that we distinguish between studies referring to the institutional expansion of Europe² and those focusing on the image, idea, and discourse of Europe.³ Adrian Marino concentrated on the idea of Europe in Romanian culture, while Sorin Mitu described the image of Europe for Romanians from the region of Ardeal.⁴

    The notion of Europe...

  14. Images of Europe – Images of Romania (1945/1948–2008)
    (pp. 263-288)
    Armin Heinen

    According to Wilfried Loth’s theory,¹ the European Union has a duty to try and solve four problems, namely:

    1. keeping peace on the continent;

    2. the German question;

    3. the less than optimal economic performance of national-state order;

    4. European states’ loss of power and competitive capacity in the face of great Western powers.

    To these one could add the processes of democratization in Eastern Europe, which are an expression of cooperation and European integration. The expansion of the European Union from January 2007—when Romania and Bulgaria were admitted to the European community—is a good example foregrounding the...

  15. The Concept of Constitution in the History of Romanian Legal Thought
    (pp. 289-314)
    Edda Binder Iijima

    Decisions ensuring political order have been laid down under different names in Romanian history and legal language, such as: sound/substantial laws, fundamental laws, endowment, pravilă (archaic word in Romanian for law [or a group of laws], disposal, regulation, act [with civil or clergy-related character]), regulations/rules, constitution or constituţiune (archaic form of constitution, in Romanian). My study aims to address a set of questions and problematic issues regarding the concept of constitution in Romanian culture. Constituţiune (the archaic form of constitution, in Romanian, meaning state constitution) entered the Romanian socio-political language from the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia in the third...

  16. The Concept of National Style in Artistic Historiography. Asserting a Critical Vocabulary
    (pp. 315-332)
    Ruxandra Demetrescu

    An analysis of the concept of national style within interwar Romanian artistic historiography could be significant for introducing a new dimension of study within the current debates on the national and nationalism. My paper aims to identify the way in which a national Romanian specific style—as different from the “great” Western model—was created in the interwar period in the field of fine arts, within which painting represented the main paradigm. After a century of Westernization of Romanian art, which basically meant its renunciation to the post-Byzantine model and the return to a classical visual culture, Romanian art scholars...

  17. The Conceptualization of National Character in the Romanian Intellectual Tradition
    (pp. 333-376)
    Balázs Trencsényi

    The present study seeks to offer an overview of the uses of the concept of “national character” in Romanian intellectual history. The choice of the topic barely needs legitimation as modern Romanian intellectual history has been continuously under the spell of defining the nation and placing Romanians on the map of Europe. The characterological discourse was one of the most obvious frameworks to make sense of national existence, fixing the auto- and hetero-stereotypes and conferring a feeling of community and collective mission on the members of the nation.

    On the whole the development of the conceptualization of Romanian national character...

  18. Neam (Romanian for Kin) and Popor (Romanian for People): The Notions of Romanian Ethno-Centrism
    (pp. 377-402)
    Victor Neumann

    The decades that have elapsed since the end of World War II show that Western Europe is interested in redefining some of its concepts that lay at the basis of its nineteenth- and twentieth-century politics. This priority of interests can be noticed both at the level of academic endeavors and state politics. The tendency is to promote languages that develop plural perspectives—including the whole array of legal notions they subsume—without claiming that these have managed to completely go beyond all the tones of discomfort contained in previous identitarian ideologies. In this equation, Eastern Europe is confronted with more...

  19. The Concept of Totalitarianism in Romanian Socio-Political Languages
    (pp. 403-422)
    Victor Neumann

    Like other political ideas or concepts, totalitarianism has a rich and complex history. It has been used to show that state institutions such as the crown, the parliament, law, or the army, can become the tools of a single party or a single leader under a certain political context. The concept of totalitarianism refers to regimes of totalitarian rule such as fascism, Nazism, communism. Both the fascist and the communist ideologies refuse and condemn liberalism. They comprise and unify all political formations in a unique group and are capable of lifting up to the rank of doctrine the idea of...

  20. Transition, Transitions: The Conceptualization of Change in Romanian Culture
    (pp. 423-452)
    Mirela-Luminiţa Murgescu and Bogdan Murgescu

    A possible answer to this question could be our intellectual interest but also the desire to name and possibly conceptualize social change in the language of historical and political sciences. In fact, the concept of transition (change) could be found on the initial list proposed to us by Victor Neumann and Armin Heinen. Yet, to say that we were somehow directed in our choice and chose the “lesser evil” (since we will see that this cannot be considered a comfortable option for the allegedly easiest-to-be-explained concept), would be an incomplete and fundamentally incorrect answer. Our interest has largely been stimulated...

  21. The History of Politics as a Dispute around the Concepts of Politics, Statesman, Political Person, Politician
    (pp. 453-484)
    Armin Heinen

    The conceptual field of the term politics has not yet been systematically analyzed neither in the case of Romania as a whole nor in that of any of its regions. So far, the socio-linguistic studies of Klaus Bochmann and Jürgen Erfurt have contributed to distinguishing between the concepts of politics and cultural transfer, as they were used during the first half of the nineteenth century. Their reflections are supplemented by Sorin Antohi’s examination of the semantic transformation of the concept of politics during the 1848 revolution (the religious connotations of the concept). More broadly, the investigation of politics in the...

  22. Summary Key-Concepts of Romanian History: Alternative Approaches to Socio-Political Languages
    (pp. 485-488)

    The theoretical analyses and interpretations contained in the studies of this volume focus on key-concepts such as: politics, political person, democracy, Europe, liberalism, constitution, property, progress, neam (Romanian for kin), nation, national character, national specificity, homeland, patriotism, education, totalitarianism, democracy, democratic, democratization, transition, censorship, manipulation, and freedom of expression. The contributions aim to unveil specific aspects belonging to Romania’s past and present, i.e., to identify the languages that either preceded or succeeded the most relevant political occurrences. They also offer alternative perspectives on Romanian culture through the relationship between the elite and unfinished modernization processes within the society and the...

  23. Contributors
    (pp. 489-496)
  24. Index of terms and concepts
    (pp. 497-504)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 505-505)