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Making Ethnicity in Southern Bessarabia

Tracing the Histories of an Ambiguous Concept in a Contested Land

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Simon Schlegel

In Making Ethnicity, Simon Schlegel offers a history of ethnicity and its political uses in southern Bessarabia, a region that has long been at the crossroads of powerful forces: in the 19th century between the Russian and Ottoman Empires, since World War I between the Soviet Union and Romania, and since the collapse of the Soviet Union between Russia and the European Union’s respective zones of influence.

Drawing on biographical interviews and archival documents, Schlegel argues that ethnic categories gained relevance in the 19th century, as state bureaucrats took over local administration from the church. After mutating into a dangerous instrument of social engineering in the mid-20th century, ethnicity today remains a potent force for securing votes and allocating resources.

Liberalism, Constitutional Nationalism, and Minorities

The Making of Romanian Citizenship, c. 1750–1918

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Constantin Iordachi

This book documents the making of Romanian citizenship from 1750 to 1918 as a series of acts of national self-determination by the Romanians, as well as the emancipation of subordinated gender, social, and ethno-religious groups. It focuses on the progression of a sum of transnational “questions” that were at the heart of North-Atlantic, European, and local politics during the long nineteenth century, concerning the status of peasants, women, Greeks, Jews, Roma, Armenians, Muslims, and Dobrudjans. The analysis emphasizes the fusion between nationalism and liberalism, and the emancipatory impact national-liberalism had on the transition from the Old Regime to the modern order of the nation-state. While emphasizing liberalism's many achievements, the study critically scrutinizes the liberal doctrine of legal-political “capacity” and the dark side of nationalism, marked by tendencies toward exclusion. It highlights the challenges nascent liberal democracies face in the process of consolidation and the enduring appeal of illiberalism in periods of upheaval, represented mainly by nativism. The book's innovative interdisciplinary approach to citizenship in the Ottoman and post-Ottoman Balkans and the richness of the sources employed, appeal to a diverse readership.

Constantin Iordachi teaches at the Central European University, Budapest. He has published widely on citizenship, nationalism and fascism. His most recent project is Martyrdom to Purification: The Fascist Faith of the Legion `Archangel Michael' in Romania, 1927-1941 (London: Routledge, forthcoming 2019).

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Constantin Iordachi