Beth Holmgren Graduate Student Essay Prize

2016 Citation Recipient

Anca Mandru

The Beth Holmgren Graduate Student Essay Prize, established in 1990 and named in honor of Professor Holmgren in 2021, is awarded for an outstanding essay by a graduate student in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.

Winner: Anca Mandru, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Title: “The ‘Socialist Intellectual Brotherhood’ and the Nationalist Challenge”

The winner of the 2016 ASEEES Graduate Student Essay Prize is Anca Mandru who is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Her essay, “The ‘Socialist Intellectual Brotherhood’ and the Nationalist Challenge,” explores the challenges of nationalism to Romanian socialists’ internationalist agenda at the turn of the twentieth century. The essay is a chapter from her dissertation “‘Socialism of Sentiment’: Culture, Progress and Community in the Early Romanian Left 1870-1914.”

Mandru’s engaging essay makes a clear argument for seeing the Romanian case as indicative of broader contradictions within turn-of-the-century radical politics.  Mandru traces the gradual process of socialists’ negotiation of nationalist ideas and language as a political reality rather than as ideological compromises. In their struggle for legitimacy in the national political arena, Romanian socialists—internally divided and often perceived as “foreign” by the home public—had to address the national question and in the process became entangled in its outlook.

Mandru draws from a rich selection of socialist and leftist journals and newspapers as her primary sources. Her essay makes a significant contribution to the historiography of the European Left and will be of interest to scholars of nationalism, socialism, and Eastern European history. It also sheds light on the contemporary fluidity of the political spectrum in the region and beyond.