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The city of Bucharest, 1918-1940

Roberts, J.; (2009) The city of Bucharest, 1918-1940. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

THIS thesis refutes the popularly held view that the interwar period was a 'golden age' in the history of Bucharest. While scholars of Romanian political history question this mythologisation, a parallel history of the city continues to be written by non-historians anxious to rediscover an 'essential' interwar Bucharest. The literary critic Ioana Pârvulescu maintains that interwar Bucharest was 'normal', and 'natural', in contrast to the alien Communist régime; the novelist Mihail Sebastian, a Jewish Bucharester, and the numerous political detainees of the secret police would, I argue, have disagreed with her assessment. By examining the immediate aftermath of the creation of Greater Romania, and the so far neglected debate about the location of the capital city, this thesis contends that politicians in the new provinces, far from simply reacting to the centralisation imposed by the Regat-based government, were actively trying to shape the political agenda, asserting their claim for political dominance: at issue was whether Greater Romania was a new nation-state or simply an enlarged Regat. Meanwhile, Bucharest-based intellectuals were engaged in trying to define Romanian-ness, and many concluded that cities were fundamentally incompatible with the essential characteristics of Romanians. The exploration of the violent potential of 'identity' creation on the city and its inhabitants constitutes a recurrent motif in this thesis. King Carol II believed he could fashion an 'authentic' city that would embody the Greater-ness of both himself and Romania, could overcome the contradiction of building a Western city to represent a peasant nation. Carol's plans for Bucharest were, however, at least as potentially destructive as Ceauşescu's notorious remodelling of the city in the 1980s, the initial inspiration for which arose from the 1934 Master Plan for Bucharest that Carol had commissioned.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:The city of Bucharest, 1918-1940
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > SSEES

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