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  Research on the history of national minorities

Until 1990, research on the history of the national minorities from Romania was limited to a few important communities and it was marked by the heavy ideological imprint characteristic to the period of communist dictatorship. Hence, it became necessary to employ new methodological approaches and to make a comprehensive analysis of the situation of the national minorities from the second half of the 20th century, including the description of different forms of state violence suffered by these communities. Interest in this topic was increasing over the last years, which manifests, for instance, in the Report of the Tismăneanu Commission from 2006 (Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania: Final Report).

After a few decades without proper institutions, historical ethnic minorities from Romania founded their own organizations of political representation in 1989 and 1990. The second challenge in scientific inquiry about national minorities is to document this new self-organizing process and various mechanisms of preserving ethnic identity.

Meeting these scientific challenges, RIRNM projects composing the research cluster dealing with the history of national minorities are grouped into two main research areas:

1. Documenting the changes in the self-organizing process of the national minorities from Romania after 1989 

RIRNM launched two big researches in this topic (in 2009 and 2010) that are still running. Both projects are aimed at creating chronologies (chronology of national minorities from Romania between 1989 and 2009; chronology of the events from 1989 and 1990 in different Transylvanian cities where minorities live), collecting documents and writing up case studies. The projects are realized by direct involvement of organizations run by minorities. Due to this, RIRNM and the Romanian Government can obtain precise information about the history of the minorities, and a comprehensive view on the events of the last 20 years.

2. Historical research about state violence in the 20th century 

This research domain incorporates several projects carried out by groups and individual researchers. One can mention among these projects the research on the Jewish minority after the Holocaust (2008), the self-organizing process of ethnic minorities after WW II and the abolition of their institutional system in the first years of communism (2011). Other projects are focused on censorship mechanisms (2009 and 2010), strategies of saving cultural heritage of the minorities under communist rule (2011), and cultural elites from the same period (2009 and 2011).

Besides widening general knowledge about the history of national minorities from the second half of the 20th century, the main objective of these inquiries is to prepare the grounds for further sociological, anthropological and political science research run by RIRNM by providing auxiliary materials and primary analyses. The novelty brought by these researches is that they are focused on issues that were not systematically analyzed up to these days (for instance, the history of the minorities between 1989 and 1990, minority organizations between 1945 and 1950); furthermore, the participation of researchers belonging to minority communities brings a new perspective (the insider's view) on these issues.


Main activities 

Given the large area covered by these historical researches, the applied methods and the forms of making publicly available research results are complex. For the empirical research were developed specific methods and data bases. Documents collected for the projects dealing with chronologies were archived (originals, hard copies and in electronic format) and put available for researchers interested in this topic. Related to the subject of state violence against minorities and the changes occurred in the self-organizing process of minorities after 1989, numerous conferences and round table discussions are organized. Furthermore, results are published in forms of books and working papers at the ISPMN publishing house and other prestigious publishing houses and journals. Special attention is paid to make results available on-line too. Hence, part of the chronologies compiled for the projects documenting changes in the self-organizing process of minorities can be accessed on the RIRNM's webpage.

The results of historical researches run by RIRNM are increasingly capitalized, and tend to have a growing impact on the scientific discourse in Romania and Central-Europe. The proofs, in this sense, are the book reviews published in different journals (for instance, The Slavic Review no. 2, 2011) and the increasing number of references to our results in different Romanian and foreign publications.


Research organization and human resources

The projects are coordinated by the researchers of the Institute, however, given the size of the area covered, external specialists, as well as students of the Babeş-Bolyai University were involved in project planning and execution. Here are enlisted only the former and current RIRNM employees: Attila Gidó, Ágoston Olti (2008-2009), Ágnes Kiss, Tamás Kiss, Zsuzsa Plainer, Zsuzsa Sólyom, Csongor Könzcei, Stefánia Toma.


Publications in the field

Bottoni, Stefano: Transilvania roşie. Comunismul român şi problema naţională 1944-1965 [Red Transylvania. The Romanian communism and the national issue, 1944-1965]. Editura ISPMN - Kriterion, Cluj-Napoca, 2010.

Gidó, Attila - Horváth, István - Pál, Judit (eds.): 140 de ani de legislaţie minoritară în Europa Centrală şi de Est [140 years of minority legislation in Central- and Eastern Europe]. Editura ISPMN - Kriterion, Cluj-Napoca, 2010.

Nastasă, Lucian (ed.): Antisemitismul universitar în România (1919-1939). Mărturii documentare [University anti-Semitism in Roumania (1919-1939)]. Editura ISPMN - Kriterion, Cluj-Napoca, 2011.

Seres, Attila - Egry, Gábor: Magyar levéltári források az 1930. évi romániai népszámlálás nemzetiségi adatsorainak értékeléséhez [Hungarian archival sources concerning the Romanian census from 1930]. Editura ISPMN - Kriterion, Cluj-Napoca, 2011.

Nagy, Mihály Zoltán - Olti, Ágoston (eds.): Érdekképviselet vagy pártpolitika? Iratok a Magyar Népi Szövetség történetéhez, 1944-1953 [Interest representation or party politics? Documents concerning the history of the Hungarian People's Union, 1944-1953]. Pro-Print, Miercurea-Ciuc, 2009.

Gidó, Attila (ed.): Úton. Erdélyi zsidó társadalom és nemzetépítési kísérletek (1918-1940) [On the road. The life of Transylvanian Jews and their nation building attempts (1918-1940)]. Pro-Print, Miercurea-Ciuc, 2009.