Please join the European History Workshop on
Thursday, November 14th from 5-7pm in 1713 Haven Hall
for a workshop of Cristian Capotescu’s paper: “Socialism Under Water: Ethical Consumption, Natural Disasters, and Humanitarianism in Ceausescu’s Romania”
Food and drinks will be provided.
Please RSVP to Bethany Donovan (email@example.com) to receive the paper.
Find the abstract below:
“This paper studies the humanitarian response to Romania’s historic flood disaster of 1970. Specifically, it explores the role of the country’s Western émigré and diaspora communities of Transylvanian Saxons in the international relief efforts. In the aftermath of the flood, the community’s far-flung local and national chapters, women’s associations, newspapers, social welfare organizations, and other advocacy groups in West Germany and Austria mounted an extensive aid campaign on behalf of Romanian flood victims that tied in local businesses, associations, clubs, and a wider public. In telling this story, this article unearths new forms of connectivity and exchange between ordinary people across the Iron Curtain and explores how consumer practices became a bedrock for new social action based on the idea of humanity. As private Saxon donors shopped for consumer goods and funneled care packages to Romanian recipients, they bridged daily consumer behavior with a moral imperative to ameliorate distant suffering. This paper argues that consumption acquired a distinctly moral rationale as the verdict of “shopping for a good cause” and sharing aid materials across borders tied together questions of food provisioning, human life, voluntary work, and ethics. Rather than focusing on the attempts of markets and states to create, shape, and manage consumer desires, this paper elucidates how private aid giving turned consumption into a wider, and indeed fraught, terrain where Saxon donors participated as citizen-consumers that negotiated universalist humanitarian aspirations vis-à-vis particularistic forms of ethnic and national solidarity.”