Romania is a country by the Black Sea, which bridges Western Europe with the Balkans and the Middle East, with Russia and Ukraine. It is a place of increasing geopolitical interest, but also a place with a fascinating history where diverse cultures encountered, inspired, and challenged each other throughout time. However, despite its still vibrant ethnic diversity and variegated traditions, Romania continues to imagine its national identity in a unitary way, around one language and one religion. The tension between the historical and cultural diversity of Romania and its monolithic view of national identity makes it an interesting case to study for a topic of intense debate today: the relationship between nationalism and cosmopolitanism, between claims to national sovereignty and the ethical demand to inclusion and hospitality. The OCS program will explore the socio-cultural and political factors that contribute to nationalism and xenophobia in Romania, as well as in the larger area of Eastern and Central Europe, as well as the promise that social and cultural diversity in this part of the world bears for developing more cosmopolitan sensibilities in the citizens.
Bucharest, a city whose memories bring together Western, as well as Ottoman/Balkan, Russian, and Soviet influences, provides an ideal location for the program. We will use the complexity and the tensions of this city to explore some of the problems of nation-building in Eastern and Central Europe, but also some of the promises that its diversity might bear for those who attempt to open national politics in a cosmopolitan direction. Students will learn to think about the complex ways in which society, culture, and politics interact with each other in the process of nation-building. The 2023 program to Bucharest will also travel inside and outside Romania. Students will have the (mid-term) opportunity to spend a week in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, and a week in Bosnia and Herzegovina, visiting the capital, Sarajevo, and the city of Mostar, where they will learn about the history, nature, and problems of nationalism in the Balkans. The students will also travel to Cluj, a major academic city in the Western part of Romania, which has a significant Hungarian minority, and Sibiu, a city in the Southern part of Transylvania, which still retains the memory of its strong German presence throughout history. One aim of the trip is to familiarize the students with some of the problems that the Hungarian minority faces in Romania, as well as with some of the dangers that come with both Romanian and Hungarian nationalism.
- To understand the complex relationship between politics, on the one hand, and society and culture, on the other hand, in the processes of nation-building in Eastern and Central Europe, particularly, in countries such as Romania, Serbia, Hungary, and Ukraine
- To get a sense of the role that cultural representations can play in either increasing xenophobia or in generating a sense of solidarity with strangers and foreigners
- To acquire, through direct immersion in the Romanian and Serbian cultures as well as classroom experiences, a comprehension of the factors that account for tribal nationalism and xenophobia in Eastern and Central Europe
- To develop an appreciation of the role that civil society can play in the formation of European and cosmopolitan sensibilities, thus empowering its members to fight the effects of (tribal) nationalism and xenophobia
- To gain an awareness of the plight of minorities and immigrants in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as of the challenges that both the state and society face in dealing with these groups
- To critically read and learn about thinkers who do not belong to the Western canon of political theory and philosophy
- To view oneself and the world from a different perspective, which cannot be easily and conveniently reduced to only one culture or tradition
Students who will have sophomore, junior, or senior status in the 2022-23 academic year and can demonstrate interest in the study of European history, politics, and society – particularly, in Eastern and Central Europe. Applicants should also be highly motivated to seek out new experiences and display respect, curiosity, and humility towards others.
The courses all count towards the Political Science Major.
POSC 294: Perceptions of Otherness in Modern Eastern and Central Europe (6 credits)
Is nationalism fundamentally flawed in its inclusionary capacity? Can the same power of imagination to bring strangers together, which made nation-building possible, be deployed for inventing post-national forms of solidarity? The course will explore representations of strangers and foreigners in Central and Eastern Europe, throughout the 19th and 20th century, with a special focus on Roma and Jews. The aim will be to understand how these representations will work to legitimize different forms of exclusionary politics. An important part of the course will explore the role that exiled and displaced people can play in reimagining identities on a cosmopolitan level.
Instructor: Mihaela Czobor-Lupp
POSC 295: Nation-Building in Central and Eastern Europe between Politics and Art (6 credits)
The state and its cultural politics played a pivotal role in building the Romanian nation. The first part of the course will analyze the difficulties of nation-building in modern Romania, with a special emphasis on the incapacity of Romanian liberalism to prevent the rise of extreme right wing politics. The second part will explore different images of Romanian national identity that art provided both during the communist regime and in the post-1989 decades, also in a comparative perspective with Hungary, Bulgaria, and Serbia. The course will include visits to galleries, architectural sites and neighborhoods in Bucharest and its surroundings.
Instructor: Local Faculty
POSC 296: Challenges to the Nation-State in Eastern and Central Europe: Immigrants and Minorities (6 credits)
How do democracies react when confronted with massive bodies of immigrants? Do the problems that Eastern and Central European countries face in dealing with immigrants reflect deeper challenges to their capacity of thinking of the nation along inclusionary lines? We will explore the legal and political issues that EU countries and their societies, particularly, in Eastern and Central Europe, face when confronted with a migration crisis. Then we will look at Roma’s history of exploitation and injustice in Eastern and Central Europe. The course will include visits with community groups and NGOs, as well as encounters with minority rights activists.
Instructor: Local Faculty
Mihaela Czobor-Lupp, Associate Professor of Political Science
A native of Romania and a former member of the Department of Political Science at the University of Bucharest, Mihaela Czobor-Lupp is currently a member of the Political Science Department at Carleton College. Her research has involved 19th and 20th century Continental political theory and philosophy on topics such as cosmopolitanism, the political role of religion and religious education, intercultural understanding, the relationship between culture and politics, the role of imagination in politics. She is the author of Imagination in Politics: Freedom or Domination? (in English) and The Mirror and the Shadow: E.T.A Hoffmann and the Phenomenology of the Romantic Ego (in Romanian). She is also the first translator into Romanian of Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France.
Students will stay in university dorms, hostels, and hotels. In Bucharest, the commute from student residences to classroom can be done by metro (10-15 minutes) or by walking (around 30-35 minutes).
The majority of lectures, discussions, site visits, and guest speakers will take place in Bucharest. In addition, students will enjoy visits to Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, and to two Romanian cities: Cluj, a major academic city in northwestern Romania and the unofficial capital of Transylvania, which still has a significant Hungarian minority, and Sibiu, a vibrant and innovative city in southern Transylvania, the site of one of the oldest universities in Romania and a place of rich German history.
Program dates roughly correspond to the Carleton academic term. Specific dates will be communicated to program participants.
All Carleton-sponsored 10-week off-campus study programs charge the Carleton comprehensive fee, which includes instruction, room and board, group excursions, public transportation, medical and evacuation insurance, travel assistance, and most cultural events.
Students are responsible for books and supplies, passports and visas (when required), transportation to and from the program sites, and personal expenses and travel during the seminar. Students will receive a program-specific Additional Cost Estimate at the time of acceptance.
Student financial aid is applicable as on campus. See the Off-Campus Studies website for further information on billing, financial aid, and scholarships.