In largely agrarian countries such as Romania, the collectivization of agriculture was the first mass action through which the new communist regime initiated its radical program of social, political, cultural, and economic transformation. Gail Kligman, professor of sociology at UCLA and director of UCLA's Center for European and Eurasian Studies will discuss her latest book entitled Peasants Under Siege which explores the collectivization campaign in Romania (1949-1962) and its far-reaching effects. This process assaulted the very foundations of everyday life for the majority of Romania’s population. While various rural inhabitants benefited greatly from collectivization, for many others, collectivization constituted the major trauma of the socialist period. Based on extensive oral historical and archival data, this historical ethnography of communist state formation as experienced illuminates how the Soviet “blueprint” for collectivization was modified through its implementation in Romania, and how the practices of its implementation—through what we refer to as pedagogies of power or technologies of rural transformation—resulted in the bureaucratization and restratification of rural life. Collectivization understood in political, cultural, and social-relational terms not only created new social hierarchies and subjectivities (“new socialist persons”), but also shaped the Communist Party’s mechanisms of rule and forms of authority.
Joining Kligman on the panel is Constantin Iordach, associate professor of history at the Central European University.