“Peasants under Siege” Wins 2013 SRS Book Prize

Gail Kligman & Katherine Verdery - Peasants under Siege: The Collectivization of Romanian Agriculture, 1949-1962
Winner of the 2013 SRS Book Prize, The Society for Romanian Studies

The prize selection committee appreciated the scope and rigor of the research undertaking upon which Peasants under Siege is based. The book builds upon the authors’ decades of experience doing field research in rural Romania. Kligman and Verdery make use of multiple types of sources, including archives, the communist press and extensive interviews, to analyze the relationship between the collectivization of agriculture in Romania and the process of party and state building that transformed the countryside and Romanian society as a whole… This beautifully conceived and clearly written work of history, anthropology and sociology shows how fruitful it can be to ignore the boundaries between disciplines in the interest of gaining insight into the fraught nexus between society and state. Peasants under Siege will provide a valuable guide to scholars seeking to understand rural transformation in the region for years to come, and serve as a primary reference point for those wishing to understand what really happened in the long decade of the 1950s in Romania, and what it meant for those who lived it.
To learn more about the award, click here.

k9615In 1949, Romania’s fledgling communist regime unleashed a radical and brutal campaign to collectivize agriculture in this largely agrarian country, following the Soviet model. Peasants under Siege provides the first comprehensive look at the far-reaching social engineering process that ensued. Gail Kligman and Katherine Verdery examine how collectivization assaulted the very foundations of rural life, transforming village communities that were organized around kinship and status hierarchies into segments of large bureaucratic organizations, forged by the language of “class warfare” yet saturated with vindictive personal struggles.

Drawing on archival documents, oral histories, and ethnographic data, Peasants under Siege sheds new light on collectivization in the Soviet era and on the complex tensions underlying and constraining political authority.

Gail Kligman is professor of sociology and director of the Center for European and Eurasian Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Katherine Verdery is the Julien J. Studley Faculty Scholar and Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York Graduate Center.