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Transforming Peasants, Property and Power

The collectivization of agriculture in Romania, 1949–1962

Edited by Constantin Iordachi, Dorin Dobrincu

Publication Year: 2009

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.

Published by: Central European University Press

Title Page

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pp. ix-xiii

The present volume is the result of an interdisciplinary collaborative project entitled Transforming Property, Persons, and State: Collectivization in Romania, 1949– 1962, 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...

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pp. 1-23

The collectivization of agriculture performed a central role in the process of reconfiguring the political regime and property relations in communist Romania, and more generally in Eastern Europe. Whereas the nationalization of industry and finance was carried out in a relatively short period of time (1948–1952), the...

PART ONE: The Collectivization of Agriculture: General Aspects

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The First Wave of the Collectivization Campaign: Central Policies and Their Regional Implementation (1949–1953)

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pp. 27-48

The first wave of collectivization in Romania took place from 1949 to 1953, and was characterized by conflicting policy lines emanating from Bucharest, which produced both aggressive advances and dramatic retreats throughout the campaign. This paper will outline what appear to be the five discernible stages of this...

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The Final Offensive: “The Socialist Transformation of Agriculture” from Slogans to Reality (1953–1962)

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pp. 49-79

This chapter addresses the ways in which the higher echelons of the Romanian communist leadership planned and carried out collectivization between 1953, the year of Stalin’s death, and 1962, the year that marked the end of collectivization. My research relies largely on archival data from the Central Historical National...

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Law and Propaganda: Rural Land Ownership, Collectivization and Socialist Property in Romania

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pp. 81-100

The other studies in this book, as well as in post-communist academic literature, amply illustrate the realities of collectivization of agriculture in Romania in the period from 1949–1962: confiscatory taxation of private peasants; mandatory agricultural quotas; prosecution and destruction of those designated as...

PART TWO: Center and Periphery in the Collectivization Campaign

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“Constanţa, The First Collectivized Region”: Soviet Geo-Political Interests and National and Regional Factors in the Collectivization of Dobrogea (1949–1962)

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pp. 103-139

On October 18, 1957, the Agerpress news wire agency and national newspapers such as Scînteia (The Spark), Scînteia Tineretului (The Young People’s Spark), Dobrogea Nouă (New Dobrogea) and Drumul Socialismului (The Socialist Path) announced the successful completion of collectivization in the Constanţa...

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The Role of Ethnicity in the Collectivization of Tomnatic/Triebswetter (Banat Region) (1949–1956)

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pp. 141-164

Any cross-regional analysis of collectivization in Romania ought to be concerned with the impact of local specificities on the strategies employed by the Party, as well as on the timing and pace of collectivization. Ecological, socioeconomic, and historical particulars left their mark on the way the “socialist transformation...

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Creating Communist Authority: Class Warfare and Collectivization in Ieud (Maramureş Region)

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pp. 165-201

Collectivization was the first mass action through which Romania’s young communist regime initiated its radical agenda of social, political, and economic transformation. To that end, the Party promoted class warfare to achieve the inversion of spatial, symbolic, and social relations. Ieud, a community then...

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Collectivization Policies in the Cluj Region: The Aiud and Turda Districts

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pp. 203-228

To paraphrase Voltaire, we should judge people’s intelligence by the questions they ask. The quotation above, excerpted from an official query sent by the President of the People’s Council of the village of Rimetea to the authorities of the Turda district, is illustrative of how communist authorities thought...

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Collectivization in the Odorhei District (The Hungarian Autonomous Region)

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pp. 229-249

Historians from Hungary and Romania have generally neglected the postwar social history of ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania. As a consequence, research on the collectivization of areas inhabited by this ethnic group is barely nascent. There is no theoretical or empirical academic literature to speak...

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Collectivization and Resistance in the Shepherding Village of Poiana Sibiului (Sibiu Region)

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pp. 251-274

The village that is the focus of this paper, Poiana Sibiului, has been known the length and breadth of Romania for at least two decades, if not longer. This is because of their sale of cheese in markets across the country, and perhaps in part due to extremely wide scale of the transhumance practiced by its...

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Persuasion, Delay and Coercion. Late Collectivization in Northern Moldova: The Case of Darabani (Suceava Region)

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pp. 275-304

As Romania was the last country in the Soviet bloc to complete collectivization, so the region of Suceava (which included Bukovina and the extreme northern part of Moldavia) was the last Romanian region to officially mark completion, in March of 1962. Why was Suceava so delayed? There are three...

PART THREE: Collectivization and the Transformation of Social Relations

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Exploiters Old and New: Making and Unmaking “Rich Peasants” in Aurel Vlaicu (Hunedoara Region)

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pp. 307-328

The relationship between peasants and the state has long been a central topic in analyzing agrarian societies, such as Romania’s in the first half of the twentieth century. Important elements in this relationship include the balance of political forces in the state (understood as a collection of groupings having...

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Revolution in Bits and Pieces: Collectivization in Southern Romania (Craiova Region)

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pp. 329-354

Early morning: exuberant villagers go out from their courtyards, happy to begin a new workday. The weather is good and the fiddlers play briskly. In a swift display of organization, cows are gathered into herds and headed towards pasture. Upon seeing the cars transporting villagers to the fields, the most...

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Persuasion Techniques and Community Reactions in Corund (the Hungarian Autonomous Region)

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pp. 355-368

Was the change in property regime as straightforward and uneventful as this 59 year-old man claimed? Did everything really go so smoothly? It is true that there were no bitter conflicts, nor were there public trials or atrocities. The planners of collectivization did not refer to Corund...

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“Never Leave ‘til Tomorrow What You Can Do Today!”* A Case Study of a Model Collective Farm: “New Life” Sântana (Arad Region)

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pp. 369-397

This case study examines the collectivization process in the village of Sântana, located in the Arad Plain of western Romania. Sântana presents an interesting if atypical study because the first collective farm there, designated a “model collective farm,” was a success both in the short and long term, and...

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“Here in Reviga, There Was Nobody to Wage the Class Struggle”: Collectivization in Reviga, Bărăgan Plain (Bucharest Region)

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pp. 399-422

This paper undertakes a case study of collectivization in the commune of Reviga, located in Ialomiţa county, and in the larger Bărăgan region. First, I will describe several characteristics situating the Bărăgan region historically and culturally, since that context played an important role in Reviga’s emergence...

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One Step Back, Two Steps Forward: Institutionalizing the Party-State and Collective Property in Two Romanian Villages (Galaţi Region)

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pp. 423-453

During the second half of 1957, despite the violent methods employed by the so-called “persuasion” (or collectivization) teams, which mainly consisted of industrial workers and Party activists, collectivization in the Galaţi region met strong peasant resistance. In this region, peasants took control...

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pp. 455-472

This book has provided 17 papers on collectivization in Romania, ranging from broad national-level overviews to case studies of small villages. Based on interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives and employing rich empirical material, the book contributes to understanding collectivization in...


General Bibliography on the Collectivization of Agriculture in Romania

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pp. 475-483

The Communist Take-Over and Land Collectivization in Romania: Chronology of Events, 1945–1962

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pp. 485-491

Table of research Villages

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pp. 492-494


MAP 1: Administrative division of Romania, 1950

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pp. 496

MAP 2: Administrative division of Romania, 1952

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pp. 497

MAP 3: Administrative division of Romania, 1960

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pp. 498

MAP 4: List of Research Villages

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pp. 499

List of Abbreviations

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pp. 501

Glossary of Terms

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pp. 503-505


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pp. 507-511

Photo Credits

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pp. 513


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pp. 515-530

Image Plates

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Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9786155211720
Print-ISBN-13: 9789639776258

Page Count: 554
Publication Year: 2009