Thesis ID: CBB569990258

Our Struggle for Existence: Negotiating Forestry, Rural Citizenship, and Statebuilding in Modern Romania (2024)


This dissertation historicizes the emergence of forestry in Romania before the First World War and its contribution to rural statebuilding until the Second World War. I argue that Romanian forestry was a unique combination of Continental and imperial-colonial influences, centering foresters as key agents defining rural politics, society, and economy around forests. These in turn spurred negotiations over the importance of forested environments and the rights and duties of rural citizens. In the context of the conceptual ambiguousness of Eastern Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, South Asian imperial forestry and its tropes proved highly influential for Romanian foresters. Working to reframe rural society and environments amid shifting ideas of modernity, Romanian foresters acknowledged rural Romanians’ “otherness,” combining practices and rhetoric from Europe and overseas empires to create a prophylaxis for medical, social, and environmental issues. I show how global and local stakes concerning forests were continuously and mutually evolving in this context, informing policy, ideas of modernity, and the potential of socioecological technocracy vis-à-vis modern statebuilding. My dissertation uses Transylvanian case studies to analyze the purchase of foresters’ ideas through everyday experiences and the politics surrounding human-environment relations. Integrating the voices of local officials and rural inhabitants, these case studies provide an insight into how forest regulation played a leading role in negotiating rural modernity. I challenge prevailing interpretations of the modern rural experience, often depicted as an antithetical struggle between the modern state and local traditions. I posit a key position in the negotiation of modernity for rural actors and liminal agents, who inhabited the spaces between the central state and the local and served to translate policy into action. For many, the forests became a space for negotiating solutions to questions about economic sustainability and social and environmental justice.

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Authors & Contributors
Armiero, Marco
Broich, John
Colan, Horia
Costlow, Jane T
Fox, Paul
Jędrzejewska, Bogumi a
Environment and History
Environmental History
Ethics, Place and Environment
Istoriko-Biologicheskie Issledovaniia
Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
Noesis: Travaux du Comité Roumain d'Histoire et de Philosophie des Sciences
Central European University Press
Cornell University Press
Melbourne University Press
Ohio University Press
Oxford University Press
Rutgers University Press
Nature and its relationship to culture; human-nature relationships
Forests and forestry
Environmental sciences
Environmental history
Natural history
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
Guillet, Léon
Kaĭgorodov, Dmitriĭ Nikiforovich
Lee, Vernon (Violet Paget)
Muir, John
Pinchot, Gifford
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
18th century
20th century
21st century
Southeast Asia
United States. National Park Service
École Centrale de Paris

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