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Title: Visions of agency : imagining individual and collective action in nineteenth-century Romania
Author: Sorescu, Andrei Dan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7964 9135
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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The present dissertation explores the contexts in which political agency was negotiated in nineteenth-century Romania (1830-1907), the concepts through which it was articulated, and the ways in which it was perceived as being distributed across time, class and state borders. Whatever may be understood by 'agency' is necessarily projected onto others as a way of making sense of their actions and justifying our power relationships with them, and situated in time, insofar as we tend to assume that projects in the present and the future are informed by past intentions and conditions. Guided by these assumptions, our research focuses on two key questions: how did historical actors ascribe agency to other actors and to themselves, and per which criteria? And, secondly, how did specific ways of thinking about agency in turn influence historical actors' own perceptions of history and temporality? In order to make sense of this, we use "agency" - a socio-culturally mediated capacity to act,1 inherently temporally-situated - in order to historicise perspectives on human action, taking Romania as a case-study, covering a period from the preliminaries of establishing a nation-state and the abolition of serfdom, to the last great European peasant uprising. The project exhaustively examines more than a half-century of parliamentary debates, periodicals, literary texts and pamphlets in Romania and beyond. Surveying socio-political discourse in an age of rapid modernization, it highlights how often-surprising concepts articulated preconditions for - or loci of - agency, recovering the historically-situated meanings of terms as diverse as "feudalism", "colonisation" and "proletariat", how their supposed (in)applicability to Romania as a European periphery was negotiated, and how they became key concepts for thinking about both individual and collective action, its preconditions, and its limitations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available