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Title:"Ceaușescu's children:" the making and unmaking of Romania's last socialist generation (1965-2010)
Author(s):Georgescu, Diana
Director of Research:Todorova, Maria; Hitchins, Keith
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Todorova, Maria; Hitchins, Keith
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Steinberg, Mark D.; Gille, Zsuzsa; Verdery, Katherine
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Eastern Europe
state socialism
Cold War
Abstract:This dissertation integrates a social and cultural history of socialist childhood and citizenship with an ethnography of post-socialist memory regimes. It explores the ideological representations, institutional structures, and remembered experiences of socialist childhood through the lens of Romania’s “last socialist generation,” an age cohort who was largely born and socialized during Nicolae Ceaușescu’s rule (1965-1989) and came of age in the 1990s, after the violent collapse of the regime. Juxtaposing official representations of socialist childhood and nationhood against personal recollections gathered through extensive archival and oral history research, the dissertation investigates the role of children as both objects of state efforts to raise loyal socialist citizens and as agents in their own right. The focus on children, who are universally envisioned by modern political regimes as citizens in the making, allows me to pose broader theoretical questions about the social formation of socialist subjectivity and the nature of its relation with the socialist state. In the scholarship on state socialism in the Soviet Bloc, the relation between state and society is often represented in dichotomous terms of “resistance” and “conformism” (or “complicity”), while agency tends to be narrowly associated with acts of opposition to the socialist regime. Investigating the multiple meanings and forms of empowerment that children, teachers, and parents generated through their engagement in youth socialization, I aim to revisit these dominant conceptualizations. Socialist citizens, I argue, found self-fulfillment not only by opposing the regime or escaping into alternative life-styles, but also by engaging actively with state institutions and pursuing a set of inextricably linked socialist and national values. My work on children’s everyday practices of citizenship can similarly contribute to histories of nationalism, accounting for how the (socialist) nation was “powerfully realized in practice” and circumventing essentialist treatments of nations as “real” entities. Finally, the field of memory studies can benefit from my examination of the generational dynamics of post-socialist memory practices in the broader context of popular appropriation, diversification, and commodification of social memory in postsocialist Eastern Europe. To investigate how children grew into socialist citizens - or failed to do so - in Ceaușescu’s Romania, this dissertation proposes a performative approach. Thus conceived, socialist citizenship was not merely something that children acquired through instruction, but something that they did, something they performed routinely and often inconspicuously in daily life. Deploying this performative approach, individual chapters examine the simultaneously constraining and enabling effects of children’s engagement in state-orchestrated practices of socialist patriotism and internationalism in a wide array of national and transnational sites, be these schools, after school institutions, pioneer camps and expeditions, or international youth exchanges.
Issue Date:2015-04-21
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Diana Georgescu
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-07-22
Date Deposited:May 2015

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