Interview with Adrian Grama--December 28, 2016

Interview with Adrian Grama, advanced Ph.D. student in History at the Central European University in Budapest. Interview conducted in Vienna, Austria on December 28, 2016. To listen to an audio stream of the interview, click here

Grama has recently completed his dissertation titled  “Labouring Along: Industrial Workers and the Making of Postwar Romania, 1944-1958.” He is also associate editor for the European Review of History.

Interview Themes

00:00 Introduction
00:47 How Grama defines his field: the social history of the Romanian economy
02:41 Evolution of Grama’s dissertation topic
05:07 On making the switch from Political Science to History
08:53 On cutting the “labor question” out of the title
11:01 Most revelatory moments during the writing of the dissertation (on the importance of the Second World War and the postwar economic transition, austerity as an experience Romania shared with many other countries)
16:08 On how a history cannot be limited to one country
17:00 Implications of comparing Romania to France and/or Germany
18:58 Why the idea of a “post-war” as a clear historical conjuncture is absent from the historiography East-Central Europe (importance of engaging in periodization)
21:31 What happens to ideology when one compares East and West?
23:56 To what extent did the conditions of the global market allow for genuinely different policy options after the Second World War?
27:10 Ethnographic/social anthropological approach versus classical social history
32:03 On the applications of the word “populism”
35:15 Grama’s working-class family history and how it influenced his perspective
38:35 Family interpretations of the socialist experience that Grama grew up with
45:04 Grama on the efforts of young Romanian intellectuals to write a history relevant for the present
47:45 On the aspects of the past that seem most relevant for understanding the present (“history is not a morality tale”)
53:37 On the intellectual environment at CEU
55:44 Romanian politics and how it is different from that of Hungary and Poland (explaining the absence of a far right in Romania)
1:04:05 On Romanian intellectuals’ disdain for the common people
1:05:49 Is there a political valence to nationalism studies?
1:09:18 On whether we can move on from the study of nationalism or not
1:11:00 Memorable political moments/events in Grama’s own life
1:15:05 Manifestations of hope and disappointment Grama has witnessed
1:18:03 Books and scholars that have had a strong influence on Grama (Stephen Kotkin’s Magnetic Mountain)
1:23:20 On training people to write history
1:26:50 What Grama is reading now and his next project