Calin Cotoi

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2015/2016
discipline Humanities and Social Sciences
Assistant professor, University of Bucharest, Department of Sociology

Research project

The Nationalization of Empire and Socialism in fin-de-siècle and interwar Romania and Eastern Europe. A Local History of the „Social”


The social – as in „social problem(s)” - is a modern way of dealing with the coexistence of individuals and groups through some kind of „rule of experts”. It has various configurations in space in time. I intend to draw the local history of the emergence and consolidation of this „social” both on the discursive-conceptual, and practical-administrative and political side. The problems faced by local elites - attempting to adapt Western canons while keeping enough resemblance to them in order be accepted as local (and authoritative) representatives are an important part of this history. The research is centered on Romania but relies on a comparative and transnational approach.


This research proposal deals with the appearance and subsequent crisis of socialist and anarchist discourses and organizations in the 1870s; the wild mixture of public hygiene and social medicine projects – related to the belated professionalization of medicine –  with anti-Semitic demographic discourses; the nationalization and literaturization of a social-revolutionary ideology (narodnicism), and the 1907 peasant uprising. Out of these heterogeneous entities a certain nationalized „social” was stabilized by the emergence of a ‘middling modernity’ and a sociological/ social expertise discourse in the 1920s.


There was a transition, at the end of the XIXth century, in all Europe, from the „social problem” – the tension between haves and have-nots – to the „social problems”, as a set of pragmatic, diverse and heterogeneous problems that could be solved by professionals and technocrats like social workers, sociologists, public hygienists, architects, physicians and eugenicists. In Romania, social medicine, public hygiene and some kind of demographic awareness evolved together with the import, from the Russian empire, of the social revolutionary and narodnik „social problem”. "Social problem" and "social problems" were caught, together, inside a convoluted nation-buildig project controlled, mainly, by the liberal political elite.

I intend to develop a history of the "social", understood as a local emergence but also as the direct result of the entanglement of revolutionary, medical, public hygiene, philosophical, anarchist, and socialist networks connecting Russian and Austrian-Hungarian empires with emerging national states from Central and Eastern Europe.



Calin Cotoi is Assistant Professor at the University of Bucharest, Department of Sociology. He holds a PhD in Philosophy/Anthropology from the University of Bucharest. 

His main research interests are processes of ethnicization in Eastern Europe (especially Romania and Moldavia), the imagination of national spaces through scholarly discourses (sociology, ethnology and human geography) in interwar Eastern Europe and connections between nationalism and religion in the same area.

Selected publications


Economie sociala, bunuri si proprietati comune in Romania [Social Economy and Commons in

Romania], with O Mateescu, Polirom, Iasi, 2013.


'The Politics of Ethnography: Figures of Csangoness in fin-de-siecle and Twentieth Century

Hungary and Romania', History and Anthropology, 2013. DOI:10.1080/02757206.2013.804818


'’Social Economy’ in fin-de-siècle and Nowadays: Two Attempts in Defining and

Constructing the Social', Quality of Life Review, vol. XXIV, no. 2, 2013.


'Neoliberalism: A Foucauldian Perspective', International Review of Social Research, vol. 1, no. 2, 2011, pp. 109-124.


'Sociology and ethnology in Romania: The Avatars of Social Sciences in Socialist Romania', in

U Brunnbauer, C Kraft & al. (eds), Sociology and Ethnography in East-Central and

South-East Europe: Scientific Self-Description in State Socialist Countries, Oldenbourg Verlag, Munchen, 2011.


'Jottings on the History of Romanian Sociology', Sociologia, vol. 1, 2011.


'The Anthropology of a Hard to Count Population. The Case of Moldavian Csangos', The

Romanian Journal of Sociology, vol. 1-2, 2010, pp. 55-65.


'Reactionary modernism in interwar Romania', in T Kamusella (ed.), Nationalisms Today, Peter Lang Publishing House, Oxford, Bern, 2009.




junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Central European University - Institute for Advanced Study
discipline Sociology
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Central European University - Institute for Advanced Study
discipline Sociology
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Central European University - Institute for Advanced Study
discipline Philosophy
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Central European University - Institute for Advanced Study
discipline History