Come and celebrate with us 25 years of Medieval Studies at CEU!
Wide selection of books with 25% discount, including The Oldest Legend
When: today, March 23, from 2pm
Where: CEU Nador 13 Atrium

The Invisible Shining - book launch at Trinity College Dublin
15 February, 6-8pm more
We offer a 20% discount until March 15 if you order the book online through NBNi.
Please use the discount code: ABL2018

The 2018 Spring/Summer catalog is available for download.

Latest releases:

Academic Freedom. The Global Challenge
edited by Michael Ignatieff and Stefan Roch

From Central Planning to the Market by Libor Žídek

Coming soon:

Landscapes of Disease - Malaria in Modern Greece
Katerina Gardikas

Nationalism and Terror - Ante Pavelić and Ustasha Terrorism from Fascism to the Cold War
Pino Adriano and Giorgio Cingolani

Search the full text of our books:


A Contested Borderland

Competing Russian and Romanian Visions of Bessarabia in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century


Andrei Cusco is Associate Professor of History at the Department of History and Social Sciences at Ion Creanga State University, Chișinău, Moldova.

Bessarabia―mostly occupied by modern-day republic of Moldova―was the only territory representing an object of rivalry and symbolic competition between the Russian Empire and a fully crystallized nation-state: the Kingdom of Romania. This book is an intellectual prehistory of the Bessarabian problem, focusing on the antagonism of the national and imperial visions of this contested periphery. Through a critical reassessment and revision of the traditional historical narratives, the study argues that Bessarabia was claimed not just by two opposing projects of ‘symbolic inclusion,’ but also by two alternative and theoretically antagonistic models of political legitimacy.

By transcending the national lens of Bessarabian / Moldovan history and viewing it in the broader Eurasian comparative context, the book responds to the growing tendency in recent historiography to focus on the peripheries in order to better understand the functioning of national and imperial states in the modern era.

"A Contested Borderland is a thoughtful and well-crafted study of how one borderland region—Bessarabia—was the object of efforts to appropriate it by, on the one hand, a Russian imperial project, and, on the other, by a Romanian national project. A major contribution of this work is to demonstrate not only the symbolic contestation over this region, but to illuminate the differences between how an empire sought to incorporate this territory and how a nation-state sought to do the same. Through a broad reading of a wide range of archival documents, contemporary press, memoirs, and other publications, Cusco devotes special attention to how both the Russian imperial and Romanian national projects engaged in a symbolic competition to appropriate the region. The work covers an impressive chronological sweep, from the 1860s to 1918. Employing broader analytic concepts, such as Orientalism and civil society, this work will be of interest to scholars of both the Russian empire and southeastern Europe, as well as students of borderland studies and nineteenth-century Europe more generally." - Peter Holquist, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania

"The "Bessarabian Question" was one of the thorniest but least-understood problems of nineteenth- and twentieth-century diplomacy in Eastern Europe. In this erudite, deeply researched, and sensitive account, Andrei Cusco shows how both Romanian and Russian imperial interests intersected in this small but much-disputed borderland. In its level of detail and eloquence of style, Cusco's book is unmatched as a study in the limits of diplomacy, the origins of nation-building, and the travails of empire-maintenance." - Charles King, Professor of International Affairs and Government, Georgetown University

338 pages, 2017
978-963-386-159-2 cloth
$65.00 / €60.00 / £52.00
ISSN 2306-3637 Historical Studies in Eastern Europe and Eurasia


Bessarabia—A Contested Borderland of the Russian Empire
Conceptual Framework and Historiographical Overview
Chronological and Thematic Structure of the Book

Chapter I. Empire- and Nation-Building in Russia and Romania: Discourses and Practices
The Russian Empire and the Challenge of Multiethnicity: Managing the Periphery
Constructing the National Narrative in Romania: Models and Variations
Russian Imperial Visions and Policies in Bessarabia between the 1860s and World War I

Chapter II. Southern Bessarabia as an Imperial Borderland: Diplomatic and Political Dilemmas
The Russian-Romanian 1878 Controversy: Between Realpolitik and National Dignity
Southern Bessarabia in Russian Imperial Discourse after 1878: Visions of Otherness and Institutional Transfers

Chapter III. Rituals of Nation and Empire in Early Twentieth-Century Bessarabia: The Anniversary of 1912 and its Significance
The 1912 Anniversary and the Early Twentieth-Century Russian Imperial Context
The 1912 Anniversary and Bessarabia’s Public Sphere
Russian-Romanian Symbolic Competition and the “Romanian Response”
Romanian National Discourse on Bessarabia during the 1912 Celebrations

Chapter IV. Three Hypostases of the “Bessarabian Refugee”: Hasdeu, Stere, Moruzi, and the Uncertainty of Identity
Hasdeu—The Romantic Nationalist
Moruzi—The Uprooted Traditionalist
Stere—The Legal Revolutionary

Chapter V. Revolution, War, and the “Bessarabian Question”: Russian and Romanian Perspectives (1905–16)
Bessarabia as a Contested Borderland during Revolution and War (1905–15)
The Wartime “Nationalization” of the Russian Empire and its Significance
The Controversy over the “Bessarabian Question” in the Romanian Kingdom (1914–16)

Instead of an Epilogue: Autonomy, Federalism, or National Unification (1917–18)?