Ioana Macrea-Toma

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2011/2012
discipline History
Research Archivist at Open Society Archives (OSA) at Central European University (CEU)

Research project

Assessing Critical Rationality across the Iron Curtain: Channels, Networks, Observers and Their Documentary Competition


One of the most ardent political-cultural struggles in the former communist states is the evaluation of the moral profiles of some of their leading intellectuals. It is not my task, however, to inventory cases or take sides. The aim of the present project is to question the revelatory dimensions of the data used in the “battle of the files” and also to reconstruct the history of how such data has been symbolically invested with classificatory authority. I therefore attempt to enhance a meta-critical approach to the classifying and documenting of “resistances” as well as of “truthful” behaviors under communism by investigating the practice of “observing”, “monitoring”, and “commenting” of “deviances” by external and internal critical agencies during the Cold War. 


The methods used are the selection of cases of mutual counter-reporting, and, afterward, the analysis of their representational and data organizational system (the reconstruction of the information processing, the mapping of the social networks involved, and the interpretation of the underpinning ideological taxonomies). If the files of the former Security Police emerge as a self-evident case of systematic surveillance, the broadcasts and analyses of Radio Free Europe appear as a counter-story within the vast operation of reporting and labeling socially or civically “disturbing” actions and/or persons. Two observational tribunes thus share as target a space inimical to the circulation of information, therefore mobilizing an intricate system of gathering news and documenting issues, while developing a taste for insidious detection of “cases”. One of the purposes of my research is to analyze the epistemic anxieties of such archival enterprises, based on the paradox of individualizing disorders while depending upon a network-based pool of information. The current campaigns of delimiting vertical attitudes from collaborative ones rest on the ensuing incongruent endeavor of individualizing guilt by resorting to interlinked and interdependent data. 



Ioana Macrea-Toma holds a Master in History from the Central European University at Budapest, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University “Babeş-Bolyai” and the University of Artois.

Selected publications


'La Censure institutionnalisée : le régime des publications sour la Roumanie communiste', in R.Stantchéva and A. Vuillemin (eds), L’oublié et l’interdit,  Editions Raphaël de Surtis, Cordes-sur-ciel, 2009.


Privilighentia: Institutii literare in comunismul romanesc [Privilighentsia: Literary Institutions in Communist Romania], Casa Cartii de Stiinta, Cluj-Napoca, 2009.


'La Mise en valeur de l’héritage national et le “peuple de statues” : enjeux identitaires à l’époque de la libéralisation en Roumanie' in I. Bot and A. Tudurachi, Identité nationale: réalité, histoire, littérature, Institut Culturel Roumain, Bucharest, 2008, pp. 148-172.


'La Censure institutionnalisée et incorporée. Le régime des publications dans la Roumanie communiste', Communisme , vol. 91-92, 2007, pp. 111‑120.


junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Social Anthropology
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline History
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Psychology
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2013/2014
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Sociology