Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2011

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Gronbeck, Bruce

Second Advisor

Carrillo-Rowe, Aimee

First Committee Member

Bucur-Deckard, Maria

Second Committee Member

Depew, David

Third Committee Member

Havens, Timothy

Fourth Committee Member

Lucaites, John


This dissertation argues that a strong ethos of homogenization is pervasive in post-socialist Romanian public discourse. By focusing on highly popular rhetorics that try to define Romanians, I illustrate that the discursive homogenization of the national body relies on rhetorics of national victimization that stigmatize the Balkans and the communist past. I develop my argument by exploring, in Chapter Two, how Romanian national identity has been constructed, historically, as a homogeneous one: particularly in ethnic terms before communism, and in class and gender terms during communism. In Chapter Three, I analyze a cluster of texts - journalistic essays, hip-hop hits, and a television campaign - as they rhetorically construct public identities vis-à-vis the popular music genre of the Manele. I illustrate that the discourse of Balkanism, which scholars of post-socialism have identified as present in other European countries, is also an influential rhetoric constitutive of identities in contemporary Romania. Because the recent past remains a puzzle, galvanizing identity-related anxieties in Romania, Chapters Four and Five turn to landmark texts in the public memory of communism: The Museum of the Victims of Communism and of the Resistance and Cristian Mungiu's film, 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days. I argue that the museum articulates political resistance and victimhood to a homogenized national body. I analyze next how Romanian journalists read 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, an award-winning film about women's abortion-related victimization. I argue that the reviewers's gender-blind interpretation of the film indicate that the articulation of political victimhood with the homogenized national body is a strong one in contemporary Romania. I conclude by interrogating about the consequences that a homogenizing public rhetoric of collective victimization have on the democratic affirmation of social pluralism.

This study is the first concentrated effort to analyze the limits and possibilities of minority identity, political agency, and democratic politics in Romania, in the face of homogenizing discourses about the past and the present. It enriches rhetorical scholarship with the case study of a post-socialist society and Eastern European areas studies with research on discursive resources available to contemporary Romanians for self- and collective definition.


vi, 221 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 206-221).


Copyright 2011 Alina Haliliuc

Included in

Communication Commons