Entangled Neighborhoods of Youth: Approaches to Housing for Young Urban Workers in the 1970s Romania
Mara MargineanGeorge Baritiu Institute of History, Cluj Napoca
September 17, 2019 / 4.00 pm
Library, Center for Urban History
At the end of the 1960s, the growing European and global expertise on youth, labor, and housing emerged as a central field of intellectual and political interest for the Romanian socialist state. To gauge productivity, resource distribution, and consumption, national authorities encouraged sociologists, architects, and urban planners to align their research methodologies to a trans-national conceptual framework informed by newly formulated post-Fordist categories and to investigate current social shifts to better human territoriality. While transfers of knowledge and professional interactions in various political and institutional settings have recently become essential dimensions of a renewed interest in late socialist attempts to "go global," little is known about how East-European states employed this emerging expertise to tackle domestic social and economic shifts, and even less in the intertwined domains of youth, labor, and housing policies.
Mara’s project fills this gap by examining the Romanian state’s public housing programs for young workers between 1968 and 1990 as part of an encompassing global trend of making the "youth" into an object of professionalized knowledge and policy. It looks at how the internationalization of expertise by transnational production and circulation of knowledge changed the Romanian scientific practices and recalibrated the experts’ visibility within the state’s decision-making processes. It also explores how the everyday practices of working youth oriented both the experts’ research agenda and the state’s medium and long-term strategies of territorializing industrial production and its social infrastructure, and how housing programs reshaped the power relations between an emerging specialist field and Bucharest-based as well as local politicians. Her research will address two questions: First, how did a new political imaginary of socialist youth and its investigation in various micro-scientific contexts help the Romanian state rearticulate its politics of urban development in conjunction with its economic and cultural policy? Second, how was this political imaginary linked to the emergence of "youth" as an issue of knowledge, policy, and expertise at broader European and global level after 1968?
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