Travel Report: Milad Doroudian, History

September 18, 2017

Milad Doroudian, a former Master's student in History, received a Graduate International Research Travel Award (GIRTA) to further his research in Romania. His report: 

Thanks to the Graduate International Research Travel Award (GIRTA), I was able to travel to Romania in the summer of 2016 and conduct research in numerous municipal archives, in three different cities, as well as conduct numerous interviews for my thesis.

In addition to this I was also able to gain ownership of some of the sources necessary for my thesis through the antiquaries of Bucharest - namely letters, magazines, and newspapers. This had given me material needed to finish my thesis project, as well author a scholarly article entitled “The Precarious Nature of Romanian Identity and Nationality: The Intellectuals’ National Identification Process through Youth, Peasants, and Jews in the Interwar Period.

During my trip I spent a great deal of time in the Iasi municipal archives where I was able to gain access to numerous oral testimonies, as well as files about the Jewish community in Romania as a whole, as well as the situation of the Jewish Communities during the Second World War.

I have also spent time in the archives of Cluj, and Bucharest where I managed to gather numerous materials needed for the breadth of my project. Albeit at times difficult, as the result of improper categorization of materials, I managed to scan numerous letters, diary entries governmental ordinances, telegrams and reports.

What is more interesting however, is that in Bucharest I managed to find sources - namely newspapers from the time period - in rather unconventional places. First of all the antiquaires of Bucharest, as well as the street vendors sold vintage newspapers and magazines, as well as books which I have bought and now are part of my own personal collection. Such a thing is rather rare in most places. Amid newspapers such as Gandirea - a right wing publication, I also found void land deeds from the individuals who lost land in the era due to the war.

My project deals with the Kastner affair in the wider scope of the Holocaust with a transnational approach and a concentration on the way that traumatic experience affected the lives of people. It is for this reason why I have also interviewed some individuals, and have also talked to home historians and experts on the subject face to face which has proved to be invaluable to my work.

I have placed considerable interest on the stories of people, as narratives are the driving force of my project. In the Spring of 2017 I will defend my thesis entitled Neither Hero, Nor Villain: Rudolf Kastner and the Cluj Ghetto Narratives.

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