Eugenics and Modernization in Interwar Romaniaby Maria Bucur

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  • Eugenics and Modernization in Interwar Romania by Maria BucurReview by: William H. SchneiderSlavic Review, Vol. 62, No. 2 (Summer, 2003), pp. 372-374Published by:Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3185594 .Accessed: 15/06/2014 22:04

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  • 372 Slavic Review

    EU than it does on the goals, expectations, and policies of the applicant countries. Even studies of EU expansion tend to have an EU bias. The brief volume under review, written by members of the faculty of the Institute of Political Science and Journalism of Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznafi, and edited by Zdzislaw W. Puslecki, contributes to the other side of the analysis, especially with respect to Poland. For the most part the chapters pro- vide straightforward, largely descriptive, assessments of key issues in Poland's relations with the countries of the European Union-foreign trade, foreign investment, agriculture, and regional development, for example. An important objective of the book is to intro- duce a Polish readership to the complex set of issues associated with Polish accession to the various agreements that comprise the European Union and to provide that readership with access to the extensive discussion and debate that for years has characterized the de- velopment of the EU. To this end the authors draw extensively on western literature in dis- cussing issues as diverse as the EU agricultural policy and flexibility in accepting aspects of EU integration policy among member states.

    The editor, Zdzislaw W. Puslecki, has also authored two of the seven chapters that

    comprise the book-chapters that introduce the issue of Poland and the EU and examine

    developments in the Polish domestic economy and the shifts that have occurred in Poland's foreign trade. These chapters focus on the growing economic linkages between Poland and the current members of the EU and on the process of achieving the precon- ditions for Poland's eventual full accession to the EU. The remaining chapters examine

    changing agricultural policy and its implications for Polish agriculture, foreign investment in the Polish trade sector, the growing impact of EU regional development policy on the

    emergence of regional policy in Poland, the growing diversification of the EU integration process and its implications for new members, and the changing formal relationship dur-

    ing the 1990s between Poland and other applicant countries and the EU. As noted above, the book is meant to inform a Polish audience about issues of im-

    portance within the EU and those related directly to Poland's accession to the EU. Thus, much of what appears here is derivative and summarizes existing literature on EU expan- sion available in English and in other languages. However, the specifically Polish aspects of the studies included in the book-for example, the examination of the shifts in Polish

    foreign trade and of the impact of foreign investment on consumer goods trade in Poland-will be of interest to those concerned with the Polish economy, as well as to those interested in understanding more fully the impact of the gradual integration of central

    European economies into the larger economic framework of the EU.

    ROGER E. KANET

    University of Miami

    Eugenics and Modernization in Interwar Romania. By Maria Bucur. Pitt Series in Russian and East European Studies. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002. vi, 298 pp. Notes. Bibliography. Index. $24.95, hard bound.

    In 1926 Iuliu Moldovan published a book entitled Biopolitica that became the cornerstone for eugenics in Romania between the world wars. Although Moldovan is better known as the namesake of a 1930 public health law, the book he wrote not only helps explain the

    legislation but also a great deal about modernization between the wars. Maria Bucur has written a history of this process that describes interwar Romania as well as the history of

    eugenics in this setting. That eugenics was an important influence in Romania is the first point of the book.

    Moldovan had a vision broad enough to provide a utopian ideal that inspired many stu- dents and even disciples. In addition to a Royal Society for Eugenics in Bucharest, there were a number of organizations, publications, and institutions with active "eugenic" sec- tions such as Dimitrie Gusti's Romanian Social Institute and Moldovan's Transylvanian cul- tural organization, Astra. Bucur points out some unexpected features and significant dif-

    372 Slavic Review

    EU than it does on the goals, expectations, and policies of the applicant countries. Even studies of EU expansion tend to have an EU bias. The brief volume under review, written by members of the faculty of the Institute of Political Science and Journalism of Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznafi, and edited by Zdzislaw W. Puslecki, contributes to the other side of the analysis, especially with respect to Poland. For the most part the chapters pro- vide straightforward, largely descriptive, assessments of key issues in Poland's relations with the countries of the European Union-foreign trade, foreign investment, agriculture, and regional development, for example. An important objective of the book is to intro- duce a Polish readership to the complex set of issues associated with Polish accession to the various agreements that comprise the European Union and to provide that readership with access to the extensive discussion and debate that for years has characterized the de- velopment of the EU. To this end the authors draw extensively on western literature in dis- cussing issues as diverse as the EU agricultural policy and flexibility in accepting aspects of EU integration policy among member states.

    The editor, Zdzislaw W. Puslecki, has also authored two of the seven chapters that

    comprise the book-chapters that introduce the issue of Poland and the EU and examine

    developments in the Polish domestic economy and the shifts that have occurred in Poland's foreign trade. These chapters focus on the growing economic linkages between Poland and the current members of the EU and on the process of achieving the precon- ditions for Poland's eventual full accession to the EU. The remaining chapters examine

    changing agricultural policy and its implications for Polish agriculture, foreign investment in the Polish trade sector, the growing impact of EU regional development policy on the

    emergence of regional policy in Poland, the growing diversification of the EU integration process and its implications for new members, and the changing formal relationship dur-

    ing the 1990s between Poland and other applicant countries and the EU. As noted above, the book is meant to inform a Polish audience about issues of im-

    portance within the EU and those related directly to Poland's accession to the EU. Thus, much of what appears here is derivative and summarizes existing literature on EU expan- sion available in English and in other languages. However, the specifically Polish aspects of the studies included in the book-for example, the examination of the shifts in Polish

    foreign trade and of the impact of foreign investment on consumer goods trade in Poland-will be of interest to those concerned with the Polish economy, as well as to those interested in understanding more fully the impact of the gradual integration of central

    European economies into the larger economic framework of the EU.

    ROGER E. KANET

    University of Miami

    Eugenics and Modernization in Interwar Romania. By Maria Bucur. Pitt Series in Russian and East European Studies. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002. vi, 298 pp. Notes. Bibliography. Index. $24.95, hard bound.

    In 1926 Iuliu Moldovan published a book entitled Biopolitica that became the cornerstone for eugenics in Romania between the world wars. Although Moldovan is better known as the namesake of a 1930 public health law, the book he wrote not only helps explain the

    legislation but also a great deal about modernization between the wars. Maria Bucur has written a history of this process that describes interwar Romania as well as the history of

    eugenics in this setting. That eugenics was an important influence in Romania is the first point of the book.

    Moldovan had a vision broad enough to provide a utopian ideal that inspired many stu- dents and even disciples. In addition to a Royal Society for Eugenics in Bucharest, there were a number of organizations, publications, and institutions with active "eugenic" sec- tions such as Dimitrie Gusti's Romanian Social Institute and Moldovan's Transylvanian cul- tural organization, Astra. Bucur points out some unexpected features and significant dif-

    This content downloaded from 185.44.77.38 on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 22:04:32 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

    http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

  • Book Reviews 373

    ferences between the Romanian and other eugenics movements. These were partly the re- sult of the historical accident of Moldovan's background and training. Born in Transylva- nia under Hungarian rule before World War I, Moldovan studied medicine in Vienna where he was influenced by the ideas of German public health concerns and eugenics. Thus, unlike other academic and scientific fields, it was not from France that Romanian eugenicists derived their inspiration. After the war, Moldovan's experience with the prob- lems involved in uniting Transylvania with the Kingdom of Romania made him emphasize a regional, decentralized approach to eugenic reform. This was at odds with German and most other eugenic movements, which stressed centralized measures to promote the wel- fare and quality of the country's population.

    A more predictable influence on eugenics in Romania was the large peasant econ- omy, plus the relatively small middle class, which included large numbers of non- Romanians, especially Hungarians, Germans, andJews. This meant the most pressing task facing the country after 1918 was modern nation building, and in this setting the most im- portant influence exercised by the eugenicists, Bucur claims, was to provide "arguments about social reform in the language of science, particularly biological determinism" (47). Thus, Bucur is less concerned with the calls for specific eugenic legislation or the changes in medical practices that were the focus in more industrialized countries. Instead, she ex- amines how eugenics provided the basis for more fundamental reform in politics and ed- ucation, as well as health and ethnic relations.

    Accordingly, the book is organized thematically rather than chronologically. Thus, af- ter summarizing the most important eugenic thinkers and organizations, Bucur has chap- ters on politics, social relations, education, and health. This deemphasizes the most im- portant turning points in the chronology of Romanian history during the 1920s and 1930s (that is, the Depression), but it allows her to look coherently at interwar political, health, and education reforms, and the role of eugenic ideas in shaping them.

    Despite the wide currency of hereditarian and eugenic ideas, their impact is more difficult to assess. In education, for example, eugenicists called for biology instruction at all levels, but their only success was in creating specialized, university-level biology courses. Private initiatives are even more difficult to assess, with no numbers given. An exception was the Carpathian Falcons of Astra, an organization for boys that emphasized "present and future generations' physical and spiritual vigor" (184) and that claimed 20,000 mem- bers by the end of the 1930s. The eugenic consequences of Moldovan's public health law are also difficult to trace. This sweeping legislation deliberately focused on the area of pre- ventive measures, but the two years that the National-Peasant Party controlled the Ro- manian legislature were not long enough to fund or pass subsequent enabling legislation to implement fully the terms of the law. It took the new communist regime until after 1945 to achieve significant results.

    Given the failure of the eugenic proposals to achieve their broad goals, how does Bu- cur assess the influence of eugenics in interwar Romania? The author makes a strong case that eugenicists in the 1920s and 1930s publicized and spread the concept of a Romanian state in the language and concepts of biological heredity. In the process, this created a sci- entific alternative to religious and later fascist inspired bases for the Romanian state.

    The eugenicists shared with fascists a disdain for parliamentary democracy, thus help- ing to pave the way for later authoritarian regimes. They argued against individual liberty, claiming that it was of secondary interest compared to the biological whole of Romania and the needs of subsequent generations. This reasoning carried with it implications for gender-based roles, especially for women who were expected to sacrifice individual bet- terment for that of the family and nation. But Bucur takes great care to show that the eu- genicists' arguments were based not on traditional or religious customs but rather on the science of biology, thus adding a liberating element stressing women's importance.

    Bucur is equally delicate in her analysis of eugenics' role in interwar debates about race. She maintains that with a few notable exceptions, such as Iordache Facaorau, Ro- manian eugenicists did not call for extreme or coercive measures such as sterilization. Likewise, Bucur maintains that most eugenicists were surprisingly silent on ethnic ques- tions. Yet she admits their insistence on a biological as opposed to a linguistic or cultural definition of Romanian nationalism led directly to racist conclusions. Moreover, she

    This content downloaded from 185.44.77.38 on Sun, 15 Jun 2014 22:04:32 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

    http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

  • 374 Slavic Review

    points out that Moldovan and his students did not criticize eventual racist rhetoric and leg- islation, ev...

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