Negotiating Modernity

Wednesday, 5 December 2012, 2:00pm - 3:30pm, IWM library
With the creation of the new state in the 19th century, in a late modernising Romania with many of its traditional social structures still intact, the interplay between tradition and modernity became the focus of the discussions regarding possible patterns of development. The role of the Romanian Jewish community in the intellectual debates on the modernisation of the country is particularly interesting. The Jewish minority was predominantly urban, and more literate and skilled than the majority population. At the same time it was perceived by the Romanian majority as a competing group that had preserved its solid community bonds and was much more united along national lines. The issue of the Jewish minority was inextricably linked with the discussion surrounding the process of nation-building.

Raul Cârstocea’s presentation will address the role of the Jewish community in Romania in the debates on modernisation, as well as the issue of the virtual ‘anti-Semitic consensus’ encountered among Romanian intellectuals in the interwar period. He will argue that, in line with the aforementioned debates and different from the situation in Nazi Germany, the case of Romania shows a form of prejudice that was not primarily grounded on racial considerations but rather on cultural and religious ones, while – as later evidenced in the Romanian Holocaust – being equally radical and destructive.

Raul Cârstocea is a Research Fellow at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies.

In cooperation with the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust-Studies