Entangled Neighborhoods of Youth: Approaches to Housing for Young Urban Workers in the 1970s Romania

Entangled Neighborhoods of Youth: Approaches to Housing for Young Urban Workers in the 1970s Romania

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Mara Marginean 

George 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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Mara Marginean 

is a historian of the 20th century, specializing in the social history of industrialization, urban history and the study of architectural design. Her research interests revolve around the urbanization and evolution cities in Romania and Central Europe. She defended a PhD in History about the urbanization process during the first two decades of the communist rule in Romania. Since obtaining her PhD from the Romanian Academy in 2013, Mara was post-doctoral research fellow jointly appointed by the Babes Bolyai University and the Romanian Academy. She also had a Visegrad fellowship at the Open Society Archives, Budapest. Mara is currently a researcher at the George Baritiu Institute of History in Cluj Napoca. She is running a two-year project on housing policies in Romania during the 1970s.

The event has a format of a workshop, with the guest researchers to discuss academic projects and research works on different stages of progress, and of the completed projects prepared for print.

Participation in the Urban Seminar implies reading and discussing the researcher’s text. If you wish to join the workshop, please, send an email to Nataliia Otrishchenko ([email protected]) to receive the materials in advance.