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From Peasants to Farmers? Agrarian Reforms and Modernisation in Twentieth Century Romania

A Case Study: Bordei Verde Commune in Braila County

Series:

Cornel Micu

The underdevelopment of agriculture was an important subject during the negotiations for Romania’s accession to the European Union. The problem of backwardness in rural areas is, however, far from new and during the twentieth century several agrarian reforms attempted to resolve it. In order to determine the causes of their failure, this volume focuses on a region in the South-Eastern part of Romania, and investigates the activity of three sets of social actors directly involved in agricultural policy: the national elites, who formulated the modernisation programmes, the administration, who implemented them, and the peasants, who had to deal with their effects. The book covers a period of ninety years, from 1917 until 2007, and attempts to determine the long-term results of modernisation policies.

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Preface .................................................................................................................. 9 Introduction ....................................................................................................... 11 Methodology ................................................................................................. 12 Working Hypotheses .................................................................................... 18 Note on Sources ............................................................................................ 19 Structure of the Work ................................................................................... 22 Chapter I: Constructing and Interpretative Framework: Agrarian Reforms as An- swers to the Problem of Backwardness .............................................................. 25 The Development of the “Rural Problem” during the Nineteenth Century .. 25 Interwar Democracy and Communism Dictatorship in a Paradigm of Continuity .................................................................................................. 35 Chapter II: Conceiving the Agricultural Policy: Party Programs, Legislation and Reforms ........................................................................................................ 45 Agrarian Reforms and Agricultural Policy in the Political Platforms of the Main Parties ............................................................................................ 47 The Legislative Dimension of Agricultural Policy....................................... 75 Strategies of Transforming the Countryside ................................................. 90 Chapter III: From Plans to Actions – the Role of the Administrative Structures in Policy Implementation .................................................................................. 111 The Administrative Structures between 1919 and 1989 ............................. 111 The Rural Administration at Work: the Implementation of Reforms in the Studied Area ..................................................................................... 130 Administration and Local Elites in Bordei Verde: Modernization or Strengthening of Traditionalism? ........................................................... 144 Chapter IV: Transformation of the Social Structures in the Studied Region ... 167 Land between Individual and Collective Property ..................................... 167 Transformation of Socio-economical Relations through Collectivisation . 186 The Predatory State ..................................................................................... 198 Chapter V: European Accession and the Development of New Property Patterns .............................................................................................................. 217 The Romanian Agricultural Policy from Decollectivization to EU Accession .......................................................................................... 219 6 The Bordei Verde Commune: the Long Road from Collective Farms to Private Property ........................................................................... 234 Toward a New Concept of Land Property? ................................................ 243 Conclusions ....................................................................................................... 265 Sources and Bibliography ................................................................................. 269

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