Inventing the Social in Romania, 1848-1914

Networks and Laboratories of Knowledge


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In Inventing the Social in Romania, 1848–1914, Călin Cotoi brings to life several ‘obscure’ anarchists, physicians, public hygienists and reformers roaming the borderlands of Europe and Russia.
The book follows individuals, texts, projects, sometimes even bacteria, traveling, meeting, colliding, writing and talking to each other in surprising places, and on changing topics. All of them navigated the land, sometimes finding unexpected loopholes and shortcuts in it, and emerged in different and unexpected parts of the social, political or geographical space.
Using materials ranging from anarchists’ letters, to social-theoretical debates and medical treatises, Călin Cotoi points to the larger theoretical and historical issues involved in the local creation of the social, its historicity, and its representability.

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Călin Cotoi is Professor at University of Bucharest, Department of Sociology. He has published monographs and articles on the history of social sciences, history of medicine, political anthropology, and social theory.
Hungarian Historical Review 10, no.2 (2021)
"… this work skillfully goes beyond the “colonizer and colonized” dichotomy and the supposition of the unidirectional flow of Western ideas of modernity. Cotoi deploys an impressive interdisciplinary arsenal, working from perspectives that include social economy, the history of medicine, the history of science, and political history [...] A much-needed new perspective on the social complexity of modern Romania, which served as a kind of laboratory for both Eastern and Western political and scientific ideas" (Cosmin Kozsor-Codrea, Oxford Brookes University)
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„A fascinating, rich and engrossing foray into the knowledge networks that informed the production of social and sociological reflection in the young East European kingdom of Romania. ... the author is beautifully successful in providing insight into the discursive confluences between local and transnational elites.“ – Irina Marin, English Historical Review Das Buch erhielt eine 'Ehrenvolle Erwähnung' im Rahmen des Buchpreises 2021 der Society for Romanian Studies.

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