Project Description and Objectives
Romanian History Abroad: the Bibliography of the Romanian History in Western Languages (1700-2010) is a project of historical research that focuses on two aspects: bibliography and historiography.
The project starts from the prerequisite observation that Romanian historiography has always made continuous reference to Western European culture and historical writing. This methodological and thematic self-comparison of Romanian historiography to the Western European historiography is only one aspect of the issue; the other, equally significant aspect refers to the way in which works of Romanian historiography become known in Western Europe, namely to their publication in international languages (since Romanian is not an international language familiar to many). History works written in such languages are those that make Romanian historiography not only a receptor of Western European accomplishments, but also a provider of discourse and “value”, rendering Romanian historiography a partner of intellectual exchange. For foreign researchers who do not speak the language, Romanian historiography is reflected by works written in languages they are familiar with. In fact, this makes history works written in international languages not only a part of Romanian historiography in general, but also the access way through which Western European researchers can access Romanian historiography. In our times, when connecting Romanian research to Western European scholarship is an acute issue, we believe that the detailed quantitative and qualitative reconstruction of Romanian history writing in connection to the development of Western European historiography is highly adequate.
The present project focuses on works of Romanian history written by both Romanian and foreign authors and published in Western international languages (English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish) between 1700 and 2010. This time span was chosen for several reasons. The beginning of the interval is connected to the early days of modern historical writing, both Romanian and European in general; the era is known as a period in which the eastern and western areas became connected, i.e. western culture "discovered" East-Central Europe. Year 2010 was selected as end point in order to bring bibliographical and analytical research up to date.
Special emphasis will be placed on the last two decades. During this period Romania opened up on various levels, and historiography took great advantage of this fact. In the same time, the opportunities were accompanied by challenges that historians did not always answer appropriately. One notes for example the low impact of Romanian history works in western academic circles despite the fact that the output of Romanian historiography increased significantly as number of articles and citations/document. The same opportunity-challenge ambivalence can also be applied to foreign historiography that focuses on topics related to Romanian history.
The project aims at reconstructing from a quantitative perspective the lot of works dealing with the history of Romanians published in western international languages through the creation of a database that will become a useful working tool, mostly for foreign researchers interested in the topic. The project also intends to analyze this historiographic production in comparison to the western European one, having in mind certain questions and challenges that Romanian historical science has faced throughout time: how much were Romanian historians interested, during the time span under discussion and especially over the past two decades in publishing works in international languages and to what degree were foreign historians interested in researching topics of Romanian history; are there constant characteristics that can be identified and studied over longer periods and where such interests stronger at certain times; what was the connection between themes and methodologies employed in Romanian historiography and those part of western scholarship, etc.
Among its intended goals, our research aims at going beyond the scholastic aspect, mostly interesting to scientists, and to reach practical ends, by providing answers to some of the challenges that present-day Romanian historiography faces.
The research to be completed through this project will follow two main directions, one quantitative and the other analytical, and this requires reaching the following goals:
- The creation of a bibliography comprising publications focusing on Romanian history written in western international languages.
The envisaged bibliography will be compiled for the selected time span of 1700-2010. Team members will follow the working tools typical to publications written by Romanian authors in the above mentioned languages and by foreign authors on topics related to Romanian history. We believe that this bibliography, designed as an actual database, will become a working tool intended foremost for foreign specialists interested in studying the history of the Romanians, but also for Romanian specialists interested in works published in western international languages focusing on topics of Romanian history. Reaching this goal requires a detailed effort in identifying and extracting from existing databases (various bibliographies, international databases, library catalogues, websites of research institutions etc) titles in the languages under consideration. Employing different access sources is necessary due to the large number of history works that can not be collected from a single bibliography or catalog (not even the monumental Historical Bibliography of Romania can include an exhaustive list of such publications). Furthermore, on the basis of collected data, we will reconstruct the degree to which these publications are accessible to foreign researchers (the percentage of works available in foreign libraries and databases compared to those circulating mainly in Romania). We will thus investigate the possibility that the poor international reception of Romanian historiography is due, besides other factors, to certain deficiencies in distribution and promotion.
- The historiographical analysis of history works of Romanian history published by Romanian and foreign authors in western international languages.
In order to accurately identify the position of Romanian historical research in connection to Western European research, one needs to perform a detailed and complex analysis that takes into consideration the following aspects: the general development of Romanian and western historiographies, the correlation among trends and tendencies with an impact on these historiographies, the institutions that were and remain active in the field of historical research, the specialized Romanian periodicals printed in foreign languages, the foreign periodicals printing topics of Romanian history, and the eras and topics mostly touched upon in publications printed in foreign languages. This analysis will constantly take into consideration the political, ideological, and cultural context when such works were elaborated (the critical years of political life after 1918, the period 1930-1940 – the revisionist danger, the political regime after 1945 – sovietization and publications in Russian language, 1964-1971 – the years of ideological openness that favored connections with the western world, the consequences of the fall of the Communist Regime in 1989 etc.).
During this analysis, special attention will be paid to historiographical works published between 1989 and 2010. Such focus is deemed justified by the need to identify those factors that are responsible for the low reception of Romanian studies by the international academic community despite the increased number of such works. Our working hypothesis is that one of the factors consists of the chronological delay of Romanian historiography as compared to the western ones in the fields of methodology, topics of interest, approached subjects etc, as Romanian historians have repeatedly noted this phenomenon. As part of our analysis, we will investigate the possibility that certain topics, subjects, and working methods deemed innovating in the Romanian context are in fact perceived as old-fashioned, "exhausted", and thus "uninteresting" for members of western European academia.
Another aspect to be investigated during the present analysis refers to the conditions that contributed to the printing of certain works in western international languages (historiographic trends, favorable political contexts, institutional policies etc.). For older periods such data will be extracted by analyzing the biography of certain authors. For the post-1989 period, such information will be collected through a questionnaire sent out to historians who have published in the envisaged languages.
- Dissemination of results
This objective was set according to the need to contribute to increasing the impact of Romanian historical research upon Western scientific circles. In the end of the project, after the completion of the database, the team will employ several methods that will make it accessible to as large a number of (mainly foreign) researchers as possible. Furthermore, the results of the research will be made known in various ways (editing a collective volume, publishing specialized articles, delivering presentations during international conferences etc.)