Gheorghe Retegan. Contributions to Demography, 1960-1970

by Corina Doboș

at the international conference The Gustian Sociological School after the 23rd of August 1944. Condemnation, Marginalization and Survival during the Communist Regime, University of Bucharest, 27 October, 2017.

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Friendship Societies and Cultural Diplomacy during the Cold War: The Romanian – Japanese Case

by Viviana Iacob

at the international conference Japan: Premodern, Modern, and ContemporaryBucharest, 4-6 September, 2017.


Friendship societies with western countries had a seminal role in pre-Détente Cold War cultural diplomacy. In the absence of diplomatic relations, these associations initiated the first contact with the West and paved the way to blooming cultural exchanges during the Détente (from mid-sixties onward). Their activity was unidirectional in the early fifties, as it entailed the circulation of publications and the organization of events with a rather reduced impact such as exhibitions or conferences. Nevertheless, their main role was to gather contacts and enlarge the network of individuals that could better serve the dissemination of a socialist country’s culture beyond the Iron Curtain divide in the late fifties and early sixties. My paper will discuss the work carried out by the Japan –Romania Friendship Association (JRFA) founded in 1955 by a group of Japanese fellow travelers. By focusing on the cultural exports that were characteristic to this association in the larger context of East –West cultural relations between 1955 and 1965, I intend to underline what type of cultural heritage was favored by Romanian cultural officials in exchanges outside the socialist camp. My paper reveals a new genealogy to the internationalization of a Southeast European culture during the Cold War. It points to specific institutionalizations of encounters that constituted the basis for later transnational circulations of ideas and people from Southeast Europe to multiple corners of the globe. 

International Conference: History of Higher Education – Student Movements, Human Capital and Expert Culture


Location and date: Bucharest, 18-19 November, 2016

Venue: Facultatea de Istorie [History Department], Elisabeta Boulevard 4-12, Council Room

This conference was organized in partnership with our project.

See the conference program here.

Theatre Diplomacy during the Cold War: Bucharest 1964, Vienna 1965

by Viviana Iacob, at the International Federation for Theatre Research Conference, Stockholm, 13-16 June, 2016

The Cold War transformed cultural production after 1945 into a weapon. Debates were reshaped in the struggle for civilasational supremacy and theatre was no stranger to the clash between the two competing views on modernity.  However, with the beginning of détente in Europe, the cultural criticism of communist states gained an inclusive dimension. In spite of the ideological rejection of western cultural production, these countries’ representatives also sought rapprochement and recognition. Starting with late 1950s, international institutions, congresses, symposia and tours became arenas for the battle between ideologies. Simultaneously, such fora were also transnational spaces for finding common ground. The two examples I wish to discuss in my presentation are the 1964 International Theatre Institute Second Symposium on the Role of Improvisation in Actor Training held in Bucharest and the 1965 Meeting of Theatre Experts from East and West held in Vienna. The common denominator of these two events was the principle of collaboration between East and West. In my paper I will focus on the nature and outcomes of the dialogue among theatre practitioners. I will point out the elements upon which East and West converged during the proceedings of these two gatherings. Bucharest and Vienna became, in 1964 and 1965 respectively, ecumenical spaces of intellectual interaction. For example, the debates on teaching methods applied in theatre education, at the ITI symposium in 1964, illustrated by Romanian, Italian and American student groups, amounted to an exercise in trans-systemic cultural cooperation. It proved East Europeans’ willingness to engage with a plurality of approaches in the theatre.

Shakespeare as Détente: Cultural Diplomacy during the Cold War

by Viviana Iacob, at Shakespeare in Romania, Shakespeare in the World, Romanian Academy Library, Bucharest, 12-14 April, 2016.


The visit of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Bucharest and the Romanian delegation at Stratford in 1964 were not singular and momentous achievements of détente cultural diplomacy. I consider themvisible results of an exchange program with Great Britain that begins in earnest in the mid-1950s.

During the Cold War, theatre was no stranger to the clash between the two competing views on modernity. With the beginning of détente in Europe, the countries behind the Iron Curtain capitalized on points of contact that would speed up the cultural rapprochement. Consequently, when it came to engaging with a western theatre tradition such as Britain’s, Shakespeare was always thestarting point for this transnational conversation. Continue reading Shakespeare as Détente: Cultural Diplomacy during the Cold War

International Conference “Higher Education, Human Capital Formation, and Professional Structures in Eastern and Western Europe since 1945”

International Conference
Higher Education, Human Capital Formation, and Professional Structures
in Eastern and Western Europe since 1945
(Bucharest, 15-18 September, 2016)
Call for Papers

The second half of the 20thcentury was a period of significant expansion of secondary and tertiary education throughout the world. The number of students grew exponentially, the institutional landscape of higher education diversified, the share of university graduates on the labor market became more pronounced than ever before, and their impact on the overall economic performance of various societies also increased. Europe played a significant part in this global success story. On both sides of the Iron Curtain, there was a strong relationship between the dynamics of economic development and the expansion of higher education. Nevertheless, systemic framework conditions mattered. In socialist command-systems higher education was part of centralized planning and, in principle, it was shaped to fit the requirements of the economy. In the more liberal systems prevailing in Western Europe, the connection between higher education and the requirements of the economy was less one-sided, as the universities had more say in the configuration of professionalization patterns. The aim of the conference is to provide a fresh look on the complex relationship between the contribution of higher education to the human capital formation and the functioning of professional structures in various social systems across Europe since the end of World War II.

The conference is linked to the research project Economic Planning, Higher Education, and the Accumulation of Human Capital in Romania during Communism (1948-1989) financed by the National Research Council (ID_PN-II-ID-PCE-2011-3-0476), in cooperation with the project TURNING GLOBAL. Socialist Experts during the Cold War (1960s-1980s) financed by the National Research Council (ID_PN-II-RU-TE-2014-4-0335).

The main topics on which we expect contributions are:

  1. Drivers and institutional frameworks for the expansion of higher education
  2. Professionalization patterns – national and international contexts
  3. Status and dynamics of expert knowledge & interventions in different social systems
  4. Labor market, human capital and skills-premium for higher education graduates
  5. International student mobility. “East” –“West” – “Third World” countries

Any other topic considered appropriate will be welcomed. Presentations based on a comparative approach are encouraged. We are very much interested in analyses focusing on national and/or local case-studies. We also wish to signal out entanglements between East and West in the field of higher education:  linkages, crossovers, and mutual influences in terms of institutional frameworks, professionalization patterns, expert knowledge, and mobility.

The submission of paper proposal will consist of filling in a proposal form and sending it with a short CV attached (no more than one page) to

Deadline for submission: July 10, 2016.

Colloquium “In from the Cold: Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and Cultural Diplomacy during the Cold War”

Colloquium “In from the Cold: Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and Cultural Diplomacy during the Cold War”, Bucharest, June 17, 2016.

Organized by:

The Regional Francophone Centre for Advanced Research in Social Sciences (CEREFREA Villa Noël), Bucharest

In partnership with:

National Archives of Romania

Portuguese Embassy in Bucharest

Camões Institute for Cooperation and Language, Portugal

Call for Papers

In 1955, the Afro-Asian Conference held at Bandung, Indonesia, was a historical marker. Representatives of newly independent states came together to discuss the fate of African and Asian nations in face of the superpower’s political ambitions over the “Third World.” The “Bandung spirit” would epitomize the commitment to anti-colonialism and neutralism during the Cold War. In 1961, the Belgrade Summit crystallized this state of affairs as it advocated an eminently independent path for the “Third World”: the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). This shift from neutralism to non-alignment co-existed with important historical events, such as the Sino-Soviet split and the Sino-Indian conflict. In the early 1960s, as the “Second world” of socialist countries was strongly divided and the decolonization process in Africa took off, new ideological and political fronts were opened in the global Cold War.  Africa became an important battleground on which a myriad of political projects were confronted and played out, from anti-colonialism and socialist solidarity to “third worldism”, non-alignment or Pan-africanism. In this context, cultural diplomacy became an important strategy for building cultural ties and fostering forms of political identification among different, sometimes estranged, actors. Continue reading Colloquium “In from the Cold: Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa and Cultural Diplomacy during the Cold War”

The Legacy of State Socialism in International Criminal Law

The Legacy of State Socialism in International Criminal Law: The Case of the 1968 UN Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity

by Raluca Grosescu, at Justice in Communist and Post-Communist Regimes, Faculty of Law – University of Bucharest & The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER), Bucharest, 6-10 October 2015.


This paper analyses the role of state-socialist countries in the development of international criminal law, through the example of the 1968 UN Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. It examines the context, the negotiations and the interpretations that had been given to the Convention in 1968. It then focuses on the Convention’s application and its new readings in domestic prosecutions of human rights abuses in Argentina and Estonia in the 2000s. The paper argues that international criminal law norms initiated or supported by state-socialist countries during the Cold War have been instrumental in trials dealing with crimes of authoritarian regimes during the “third-wave of democratization” in Latin America and Eastern Europe. It also reflects on the historicity of law. It discusses how legal norms constructed in a particular historical context with a specific political purpose are re-interpreted and re-negotiated in order to fulfil new political goals in the present.

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