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Controlling Reproduction in Post-communist Romania: The Abortion Issue


The abortion ban (1966-1989) during Ceausescu’s regime is considered one of the most repressive reproduction policies of the twentieth century. Immediately after the fall of the communist regime, the new Romanian government legalized abortion on request. Studies have documented the demographic consequences of the communist pronatalism in the early 1990s, but very little research has focused specifically on controlling reproduction in postcommunist Romania between the State and the individual.
Based on long-term ethnography of the abortion issue in post-communist Romania, this research project seeks to understand the legacy of the former abortion ban in terms of institutional norms and individual practices. Interdisciplinary in nature, and primarily qualitative, it combines a social anthropology and Memory Studies approach in order to (1) inventory the public policies concerning abortion after 1989, as well as associated debates, and (2) analyze the individual practices of the medical profession, and their evaluation by the patients, both in a synchronic (participatory observation in abortion- providing facilities) and diachronic perspective (in-depth interviews, following a social memory approach). The associated fieldwork will be situated in south-central contemporary Romania (Bucharest and Prahova jurisdiction) and will involve several case studies in urban and rural settings.
The overall scientific goal of the project is to provide, from a social anthropology point of view, a comprehensive understanding of the relations between past and present when dealing with biopolitics in a post-totalitarian regime. In this sense, postcommunist Romanian realities will be taken as a case-study, but insights will be made in the nature, the scope and the practice of biopower at the European level after 1989, between national agendas and international norms.

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Soseaua Panduri 90
050663 Bucuresti
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 100 000
Administrative Contact
Liviu Papadima (Prof.)