The Political Elite from Transylvania (1867-1918)

Research project financed by CNCS-UEFISCDI through the research grant PN-II-ID-PCE-2011-3-0040

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© 2011-2012. The Project Team

We intend to complete our project by gradually fulfilling a series of objectives, as it follows:

1st. Building the Transylvanian political elite’s catalogue (1867-1918). The database which will be the result of this project will include almost 2.000 persons and their basic information (social origin, intellectual and educational formation, blood relatives and kinship, profession, political activities, functions, authored works, bibliography etc.). It will undoubtedly serve as one of the most valuable work-instruments for researchers interested in the history of Transylvania, the history of elites, genealogy, as well as other categories of researchers.

2nd. The analysis of the political elite in Transylvania (1867-1918). This database as well as the use of the sociologic and geographic software will enable approaches that seemed to be, up to this point, impossible to accomplish. Firstly, one must mention the range of serial analyses regarding: the social origins of elites, their educational background, the functioning of the elite networks, and the gradual modifications of the ethnic-denominational composition, the degree of generality for a cursus honorum which was considered common, the geographical projection of elites and the centre-periphery relations. All these will be complemented by a network-analysis concerning the members of the elite.

3rd. Discourse analysis. The electoral and parliamentary speeches held by the MPs will be itemized by using the available collections of discourses and the contemporary press of that period of time, being subsequently analyzed in order to identify identitary constructions, the relations between sender and receivers and the argumentative strategies employed. The discourse analysis will constitute an important part of this research, because we intend to ascertain if the regional circumscription of these elite is also reflected at this level, if there are publically-assumed regional identities and what the relationship between regional identity and the integration in a political party (or group) is.

4th. The dissemination of results. It is for the first time that such a widely-encompassing research project regarding the political history of modern Transylvania is being proposed. From this perspective, the impact of the results will be all the greater when taking into account the project supervisor’s scientific visibility, which should enable the further dissemination of the results and further possible collaboration. We intend to focus the publication of the results of the research primarily on the Central-European area, towards the periodicals in the area of the former Habsburg Empire, and thus to come into contact with those researchers who are interested in similar subjects. The studies, books, and final project volume will constitute valuable complements to the previous achievements of the Austrian and Hungarian historiography.

This project is however an absolute novelty in terms of Romanian historiography and that is why the orientation towards the internal scientific circles should not and will not be neglected. The history of Romanian parliamentarism has never known such approaches, so that this initiative will be able to serve as a model for the territory of the Old Kingdom.

5th. The forging of a team of researchers who are highly skilled in the study of the history of Transylvanian elites. In its beginning, this project will include three senior researchers (Associate Prof. PhD. J. Pál, Prof. PhD. N. Bocşan; Prof. PhD. S. Mitu), one post-doctoral researcher (A. Fehér PhD.), and two doctoral students (O. Iudean; A. Onojescu). From the second year onwards a second post-doctoral researcher (V. Popovici PhD.) will be included, after the end of his current research project. We will thus form a team, create an environment which is well-suited to the passing on of the experience of scientific work, as well as ensure that the young researchers will develop their skills and competencies in this field. One must underline the team’s pluri-linguistic composition as well as the different areas of research from which the senior researchers stem – this particular team layout was opted for because it ensures in-depth access to more specific domains and allows room for interdisciplinarity. Once cohesion achieved, this team will be able to develop further, more in-depth and more widely-encompassing projects, with greater odds to succeed.

6th. Identifying possible follow-ups for this research. Even if the proposed database will undoubtedly be exhaustive, we are aware that the analyses it will support will not be exhausted by our team. That is precisely why we have aimed to approach only some of the possible directions of research (those in which the members of our team are highly competent, through historiographic exercise), leaving our colleagues with an example that will provide a valid starting point for different approaches, for which they are better equipped. This will not however stop us from trying to identify as many as possible of the project’s ramifications, and to approach them, by seeking ways in which to continue this research on a similar scale (for instance a chronological extension towards the interwar period or a geographical extension towards the Romanian “Old Kingdom”).