Transforming Peasants, Property and Power

The collectivization of agriculture in Romania, 1949–1962
$121.00 / €111.00 / £95.00
Publication date: 
544 pages + 8 pages with black-and-white photos

The subject matter of the volume is part of larger research agenda on the process of land collectivization in the former communist camp, focusing on state, identity and property. The main innovation of the volume is to apply recent interdisciplinary approaches to the study of the collectivization process, asking what types of new peasant-state relations it formed and how it transformed notions of self, persons, and things (such as land). The project conceived of changes in the system of ownership as causing changes in the identity and attitude of people; similarly, it regarded the study of personal identities as essential for understanding changes in the system of ownership. This perspective is rare in the area-studies approaches to the topic.

Unlike other works on the subject, the volume treats the entire history of the campaign of collectivization in Romania, between 1949 and 1962. It also fully covered Romania’s territory, with at least two researchers in every historical province. Since the process of collectivization varied across space and time, the participants to the volume selected a broad sample of research sites differing in religious and ethnic composition, economy, terrain, date of collectivization, and other related variables. Several of the project participants focused on national-level policies and practices (i.e., property legislation, and debates about the form collectivization should take); the others conducted case studies, working across a broad span of communities and experiences.


PART ONE The Collectivization of Agriculture: General Aspects
ROBERT LEVY, The First Wave of the Collectivization Campaign: Central Policies and Their Regional Implementation (1949–1953)
MARIUS OPREA, The Final Offensive: “The Socialist Transformation of Agriculture” from Slogans to Reality (1953–1962)
LINDA MILLER, Law and Propaganda: Rural Land Ownership, Collectivization and Socialist Property in Romania

PART TWO Center and Periphery in the Collectivization Campaign
CONSTANTIN IORDACHI, “Constanţa, the First Collectivized Region:” Soviet Geo-Political Interests and National and Regional Factors in the Collectivization of Dobrogea (1949–1962)
SMARANDA VULTUR, The Role of Ethnicity in the Collectivization of Tomnatic/ Triebswetter (Banat Region) (1949–1956)
GAIL KLIGMAN, Creating Communist Authority: Class Warfare and Collectivization in Ieud (Maramureş Region)
VIRGILIU ŢÂRĂU, Collectivization Policies in the Cluj Region: The Aiud and Turda Districts
SÁNDOR OLÁH, Collectivization in the Odorhei District (The Hungarian Autonomous Region)
MICHAEL STEWART and RĂZVAN STAN, Collectivization and Resistance in the Shepherding Village of Poiana Sibiului (Sibiu Region)
DORIN DOBRINCU, Persuasion, Delay and Coercion. Late Collectivization in Northern Moldova: The Case of Darabani (Suceava Region)

PART THREE Collectivization and the Transformation of Social Relations
KATHERINE VERDERY, Exploiters Old and New: Making and Unmaking “Rich Peasants” in Aurel Vlaicu (Hunedoara Region)
DANIEL LĂŢEA, Revolution in Bits and Pieces: Collectivization in Southern Romania (Craiova Region)
JULIANNA BODÓ, Persuasion Techniques and Community Reactions in Corund (the Hungarian Autonomous Region)
CĂLIN GOINA, “Never Leave ‘til Tomorrow What You Can Do Today!” A Case Study of a Model Collective Farm: “New Life” Sântana (Arad Region)
LIVIU CHELCEA, “Here in Reviga, There Was Nobody to Wage the Class Struggle”: Collectivization in Reviga, Bărăgan Plain (Bucharest Region)
CĂTĂLIN AUGUSTIN STOICA, One Step Back, Two Steps Forward: Institutionalizing the Party-State and Collective Property in Two Romanian Villages (Galaţi Region)

General Bibliography on the Collectivization of Agriculture in Romania
The Communist Take-Over and Land Collectivization in Romania: Chronology of Events, 1945–1962
Table of Research Villages

MAP 1: Administrative division of Romania, 1950
MAP 2: Administrative division of Romania, 1952
MAP 3: Administrative division of Romania, 1960
MAP 4: List of Research Villages

List of Abbreviations
Glossary of Terms
Photo Credits

"This remarkable volume goes well beyond a merely descriptive overview of the collectivization of agriculture in Romania. It provides, for the first time, a subtle analysis of the phenomenon itself, of its consequences for the economic situation of the peasantry, and its effects on peasant attitudes toward property and political power. The interdisciplinary nature of the contributions, their analytical acuity, and the rigor of the research recommend this study as a fundamental text for understanding not only the communist regime, but also the impact on property relations after 1990. The research for this volume, conducted by a group of twenty anthropologists, historians, and sociologists from Romania, the United States, and Great Britain who use hitherto untapped archival and oral sources, offers a yardstick against which further studies on collectivization in East Central Europe will be judged."
"This is an important book. The collectivization of agriculture in Romania and elsewhere in the formerly east central European socialist world has come and gone, but issues like the relationship of states to local communities, the meanings and contradictions of property (both to individuals and to systems of government and control), and the social effects and strains resulting from transformations in property regimes remain with us, in some instances stronger than before. Furthermore, the volume’s importance and possibilities are enhanced by the multidisciplinary, multinational, multigenerational cast of authors brought together by Katherine Verdery and Gail Kligman in a multiyear project to explore the vicissitudes of these processes with a clear ethnographic focus on Romania, but with an eye to the world."