Transforming Peasants, Property and Power: The Collectivization of Agriculture in Romania, 1949-1962

Transforming Peasants, Property and Power: The Collectivization of Agriculture in Romania, 1949-1962

Language: English

Pages: 553


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

PDF eISBN: 9786155211720

A central element in the formation of Eastern European state socialism, the collectivization of agriculture touched the lives of many more citizens than the transformations in industry. Despite its profound long-term socio-political implications, the process of land collectivization has not been subject to comprehensive research. The product of an interdisciplinary project, this book fills this lacuna in the academic literature: a highly integrated, theory-driven collective work of leading historians, anthropologists, sociologists and literary critics from the US, the UK, Hungary and Romania. The book analyzes the campaign of collectivization in Romania, between 1949 and 1962. Parallel to presenting national policies and practices (i.e., property legislation, and political debates), field research explores in case studies, working across a broad span of communities and experiences, what types of new peasant-state relations were formed through collectivization.

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followed by brutal repression. By contrast, peasants in Năneşti did not openly oppose collectivization, as they were convinced that resistance would be futile. Beyond these visible differences, however, neither the party nor collectivization enjoyed any legitimacy in these villages throughout the entire communist period. To date, the relative scarcity of available primary and secondary sources on the topic prevented scholars from fully integrating the Romanian campaign of collectivization into a

Agriculture: General Aspects result of my work in the GAC, I built a home, purchased a sewing machine, washer, and bicycle, and during a regional competition, I was awarded a clock and a radio.”93 Pustai’s story cogently summarizes what the benefits of collectivization were in the end. Its costs were considerably greater—we refer only to the official report at that time, and not to the price the country paid for the entire experiment. In a 1962 report to the Central Committee, Paul

Republic of Romania insignia, fir tree branches, and the following slogans: Long live the RWP, the people’s tried and true leader, inspirer and organizer of our victories! Success to the proceedings of the Grand National Assembly meeting dedicated to achieving full collectivization in the People’s Republic of Romania! Long live the alliance between the working class and the collectivized peasants, the solid rock of our people’s democracy.96 Next to the radio won by Simion Pustai, the famous

end of the first Five-Year Plan (1950–1955), Constanţa ranked first, with 67.1 percent of its land in socialist ownership (either state or collective ownership, relative to 30.9 percent in 1950). Out of this total, the degree of collectivization increased from 5.2 percent of arable land in 1950 to 47 percent in 1955.48 This performance won the Constanţa region praise from Secretary General Gheorghiu-Dej himself in an April 10, 1954 speech, as well as in his report of the 1956 Second Party

can distinguish between two main stages of collectivization in Jurilovca: 1950–1952 and 1956–1957, with a period of stagnation in between. The Jurilovca collective farm (GAC) was established by a group of Party activists who lived in the village.76 They called for a meeting of the entire village in order to formally establish the GAC, yet only twenty poor families, owning together at most 20 ha of land, 11 horses and a few farm tools, actually answered the call. To encourage middle farmers to

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