Education: Ph.D. in History at University of Illinois
Maria Bucur-Deckard is the John W. Hill Chair of East European History and Professor in the Department of History at Indiana University Bloomington.
When did you first develop an interest in Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies?
Although I was born in Romania and lived there for the first 17 years of my life, my interest in Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies developed in college. I went from studying violin performance and being interested in film and theater to becoming a historian. Taking Richard Stites’ course on Russian history in my second year at Georgetown, learning Russian (my mother’s native language that I was never taught at home), and trying to fully comprehend Romanian ethno-nationalism were three forces that helped me decide that I wanted to become a historian of Eastern Europe. Spending my junior year at the School for Slavonic and East European Studies in London and the end of December 1989 in Romania helped seal the deal.
While I was first interested in the rise and meaning of nationalism in Eastern Europe, I sharpened that general interest into a focus on the eugenics movement in the interwar period in Romania. After writing a book about the attempt to engineer the future, Eugenics and Modernization in Interwar Romania (2002), I turned my attention to the question of how various historical actors sought to engineer the past in Romania through commemorations of the two world wars. This resulted in the book Heroes and Victims. Remembering War in Twentieth Century Romania (2009).
How have your interests changed since then?
Since then, I have turned my attention more squarely towards exploring how gender regimes have shaped the experience of women in Eastern Europe in the modern period, especially in the twentieth century. This new direction brought me to a project I started in 2009 and that will be completed with the publication of the book Birth of Democracy. Women and Power Regimes in Romania, 1940—2010 (Indiana University Press, 2018), co-authored with the Romanian feminist philosopher Mihaela Miroiu. In addition to this monograph, I have researched and published on the gender dimensions of World War I and of property rights in the modern era.
What is your current research/work project?
I continue to work on gender history, now within a broader transnational context. I recently published Gendering Modernism. A Historical Reappraisal of the Canon (Bloomsbury, 2017), which invokes East European cases in a larger comparative framework. In 2018, Rowman and Littlefield will publish The Century of Women. How Women Have Changed the World since 1900, which I consider my most ambitious and broadest analysis of gender history. Russia, Eurasia, and Eastern Europe are all well represented in this synthesis. And I blog at A Thousand Shades of Lavender (http://midlifewonderer.tumblr.com/), a site dedicated to celebrating 1000+ women who changed the world since 1900.
What do you value about your ASEEES membership?
ASEEES is the one professional organization that represents my combined commitment to deep knowledge of area studies with broad and sophisticated interdisciplinarity. At the ASEEES annual conferences I often learn as much from research on economic development as I do from textual analyses of literature. And even though feminist scholarship has not become a dominant mode in the approach to East European area studies, it has grown since my joining the organization in 1992. I look forward to making more contributions to ASEEES specifically in this area.
Besides your professional work, what other interests and/or hobbies do you enjoy?
I grew up playing music and continue to relish being able to sit around the living room with my husband and two sons playing bluegrass and more recently swing and other varieties of jazz. Watching the sun set in the high desert is my favorite hobby, with swimming at sunrise in the Mediterranean as a close second.