Current Institutional Affiliation
Lecturer, Transnational/Comparative South-east European Studies, University of London / University College London

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2008
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of Illinois / Urbana-Champaign
“Ceausescu’s Children:” Ideological Scripts and Remembered Experiences of Childhood in Socialist Romania (1965-1989)

Hailed as the future of the socialist nation in official rhetoric, Romanian children born after the state's banning of abortion were vernacularly called "Ceausescu's children" or "children of the decree." Given the centrality of this generation to the socialist regime's struggle for legitimacy, my dissertation will explore the ideological construction, institutional organization, and lived experiences of childhood during Nicolae Ceausescu's rule. Juxtaposing state orchestrated representations of socialist childhood against personal recollections, I will provide insights into the emergence of a distinctive socialist identity out of the intersection of ideology with subjective life. My research will combine archival study with oral history in order to revisit the dominant representation of socialist citizens as inhibited liberal subjects in the literature on Eastern European socialist regimes. More specifically, it challenges the assumption that socialist subjects were polarized between a "fake" public persona and a "true" self-confined to the private sphere. By comparison, it proposes an analytical focus on the performative character of identity formation, arguing that the dynamic relation between socialist citizens and the state is better described in terms of participation and negotiation than of oppression and manipulation. The larger theoretical thrust of my project is to explore communism as an alternative experience of modernity with a distinctive form of social organization and large-scale experiments in social engineering. The specific context of late Romanian socialism opens the additional possibility of examining the affinities between socialism and nationalism as two specifically modern ideologies seeking to realign the self with the collective. Finally, a fuller understanding of how late socialist regimes shaped the young generation chosen to embody their future would illuminate a series of intriguing post-communist phenomena such as nostalgia f