2021 – 2023: Philosophy in Socialist Romania. A Case Study in Institutionalized Thought

ABSTRACT

The present project offers an in-depth analysis of philosophical thought under the communist regime in Romania, combining hermeneutical analysis with comparative, historical, and quantitative research. Its main intention is to expose how the institutionalization of philosophical thought between the late 1940s and 1989 addressed the relationship between knowledge, politics, and social practice in ways that still inform the role of philosophy today.

The project analyzes philosophy as a discipline on its own terms, following its repeated reconfigurations during this period in an attempt to invest it with a new theoretical, but also social and political function. At the same time, it offers a periodization of the local philosophical production (including translations) in relation to sociopolitical changes (Sovietization, de-Stalinization, national communism), similarly to the recent historiographies of other fields, such as sociology, literature, and literary translation.

In making use of a comparative approach, it regards philosophy in relation to other disciplines (literature, literary theory and critique, sociology, etc.) and it moves beyond methodological nationalism by considering local philosophy in its transnational context. In reflecting both on the relationship of philosophy under communism with the philosophy of the interwar period and on its repercussions for the academic practice of philosophy in Romania today, it proves highly topical in a contemporary perspective.

PROJECT INFO

  • Project director: Dr. Alexandru CISTELECAN
  • Project title: Philosophy in Socialist Romania. A Case Study in Institutionalized Thought.
  • Project code: PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2020-0707
  • Contract no.: PCE 141/ 2021
  • Program: Fundamental and Frontier Research. Exploratory Research Projects (PCE)
  • Financed by: UEFISCDI
  • Period of Time: January 2021 – December 2023
  • Funding: 1.197.938 lei

RESEARCH TEAM

Philosophy magazine index (1964-1989)

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EVENTS

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2021

This first stage of the research project focused mostly on three aspects:

a) Archival research and institutional undertakings: The project team engaged during these months in an effort of archival research, which meant copying and indexing the archives of three of the most significant Romanian journals in the field of philosophy during the communist decades: Revista de filozofie (Ștefan Baghiu), which has been fully copied and indexed according to the categories decided by the project team – and whose index of metadata is in the process of being uploaded on the project’s website; Cercetări filozofice (Adela Hîncu), which has been fully copied and partially indexed on the project’s internal archive; and Lupta de clasă (Alexandru Cistelecan), which has been selectively copied and indexed for the period 1948-1967. Along these activities, Christian Ferencz-Flatz and Adela Hîncu did research in the archives of the Academy of Social and Political Sciences, where they accessed and copied relevant materials from two archive funds – the Logic and Philosophy section (1971-78) and the Secretariat and Chancellery section (1971-73). These activities have resulted in thousands of articles and hundreds of relevant documents being digitally stored and indexed on the internal archive of the project. Finally, in the same archival and institutional effort, the project team contacted Istituto Gramsci in Rome and the online digital archive Arcanum and secured access to or copies from their archives.

b) Interviews: Significant progress has also been made on the project of conducting a series of interviews with actors from the philosophical scene of that period. Together with Christian Ferencz-Flatz, Adela Hîncu identified the people who could be interviewed about their collaboration with the Institute of Philosophy and / or the Faculties of Philosophy (from Cluj-Napoca, Bucharest, Iasi, etc.) during the communist period. The first interview, which will be held in three sessions, will begin on December 11 with prof. Univ. acad. Mircea Flonta.

c) Research, publications and conferences: Christian Ferencz-Flatz planned and organized, together with the PI, a special issue dedicated to “existentialist philosophies in the Eastern Bloc”, whose argument and abstracts have been proposed to a Web of Science indexed journal, which accepted taking it into consideration for publication next year. Adela Hîncu wrote the article “Social Science and Marxism Humanism Beyond Collectivism in Socialist Romania”, which was submitted to and accepted for publication by the journal History of the Human Sciences (ISI indexed). Stefan Baghiu published in Transilvania (no. 2/2021) an article on W.E.B. Du Bois, which also deals with the foreign policy of the communist states. Alexandru Cistelecan published two articles in Vatra, on N. Tertulian’s legacy (no. 3-4/2021) and on the political and ideological background of the first communist reception of critical theory (no. 7-8/2021). At the beginning of September, the project team participated at the summer school Ecologies of Emancipation, organized by tranzit.ro/Cluj at Câmpu Cetății, where each of its members gave a presentation on their current research. These presentations were later developed in proper publications: Alexandru Cistelecan’s presentation on ‘Dialectical and Historical Materialism in Communist Romania”, as well as Christian Ferencz-Flatz’s talk on ‘The Aesthetics of Everyday Life in Socialist Romanian Philosophy’ have been published in Transilvania (no. 11-12/2021), where also Stefan Baghiu has a contribution on ‘Structuralism in the Philosophy Journals in Communist Romania’. Stefan Baghiu’s presentation at the summer school, on ‘Social Realism and Capitalist Realism’, as well as Adela Hîncu’s presentation, on ‘Marxist Revisionism and the Intellectual History of Romanian Communism’ will be developed into articles to be submitted early next year. In November, Adela Hîncu coordinated the application for the conference organized by the Society of Romanian Studies in 2022, with the panel “Looking Outwards: Reflections on Global Issues in Socialist States Romania,” in which Adela Hîncu and Christian Ferencz-Flatz proposed the paper “From ecological crisis to ecological revolution: Marxist reflections on the ‘limits to growth’ ”, and Alex Cistelecan and Ştefan Baghiu the presentation “World outlooks and foreign policy in communist Romania”. Finally, on 1st December, Adela Hîncu and Stefan Baghiu gave a presentation on the reception of existentialism in communist Romania, at the annual conference of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, in the panel “Captive Historiography: New Research on Marxism-Leninism in Eastern Europe before De-Stalinization”.

2021

  • Adela Hâncu: Social Science and Marxism Humanism Beyond Collectivism in Socialist Romania, in: History of the Human Sciences (accepted for publication);
  • Alexandru Cistelecan: Materialism dialectic și istoric în comunismul românesc (I), in: Revista Transilvania, nr. 11-12/2021, pp. 14-26, ISSN: 0255-0539;
  • Christian Ferencz-Flatz: Estetica vieții cotidieneîn filozofia RSR, in: Revista Transilvania, nr. 11-12/2021, pp. 3-13, ISSN: 0255-0539;
  • Ștefan Baghiu: Structuralismul în revistele de filozofie din România comunistă: respingere și acomodare (1954-1967), in: Revista Transilvania, nr. 11-12/2021, pp. 27-36, ISSN: 0255-0539;
  • Ștefan Baghiu: W.E.B. Du Bois în studiile contemporane: conștiința dublă și modernitatea rasializată, in: Revista Transilvania, nr. 2/2021, pp. 22-30, ISSN: 0255-0539;
  • Alexandru Cistelecan: Veșnicia modernității, in: Vatra, nr. 3-4/ 2021, pp. , 54-55, ISSN: 1220-6334;
  • Alexandru Cistelecan: Peripețiile filozofiei marxiste în comunismul românesc, in: Vatra, nr. 7-8/ 2021, pp. , 155-157, ISSN: 1220-6334.

2021

  • Adela Hincu & Stefan Baghiu: The Other of Marxism-Leninism: Debates on Existentialism in 1950s Romania, at the Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), December 1-3 (online);
  • Alexandru Cistelecan: Materialism dialectic și istoric în comunismul românesc [Dialectical and Historical Materialism in Romanian Communism], at Ecologies of Emancipation summer school, organized by tranzit.ro/Cluj, Câmpu Cetății, 1-5 September;
  • Adela Hîncu: Revizionism marxist şi istoria intelectuală a comunismului în România [Marxist Revisionism and the Intellectual History of Communism in Romania], at: Ecologies of Emancipation summer school, organized by tranzit.ro/Cluj, Câmpu Cetății, 1-5 September;
  • Christian Ferencz-Flatz: Filozofie și design în România socialistă [Philosophy and Design in Socialist Romania], at Ecologies of Emancipation summer school, organized by tranzit.ro/Cluj, Câmpu Cetății, 1-5 September;
  • Ștefan Baghiu, Realism socialist și realism capitalist [„Socialist Realism and Capitalist Realism”], at Ecologies of Emancipation summer school, organized by tranzit.ro/Cluj, Câmpu Cetății, 1-5 September.