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University of Amsterdam

Professor of Literary and Cultural History of Modern Europe


Research project: Cities at the Crossroads. Urban Communities and Intercultural Links in the Romanian Principalities, 1800–1900

The social and cultural history of Romanians during the modern age represents one of his main topics of research. Dr. Alex Drace-Francis authored, among other studies, the following books: The Making of Modern Romanian Culture. Literacy and the Development of National Identity (London – New York: IB Tauris, 2006) [in Romanian The Genesis of Modern Romanian Culture, Translated by Marius-Adrian Hazaparu (Iasi: Polirom, 2016)] and The Traditions of Invention. Romanian Ethnic and Social Stereotypes in Historical Context (Leiden – Boston: Brill Publishers, 2013).

Alex Drace-Francis and Bogdan Popa propose to pursue a research agenda which was pioneered by Alexandru Lapedatu in an article of 1934. In this insufficiently-known study, A. Lapedatu published some accounts of Scottish missionaries in the Romanian Principalities in the 1830s, Andrew Bonar and Robert McCheyne. These accounts are exceptionally valuable for their insight into relations between Romanian and Jewish communities in this period, yet have been only intermittently valorised by recent historiography.

Drace-Francis and Popa will use Lapedatu’s study as a starting point for a reconsideration of intercultural (religious, ethnic, social) interrelations in 19th-century Romania, particularly in the urban environment. Bucharest and Iaşi were very cosmopolitan cities in this period, and especially after 1830 the place was opening up to foreign visitors both from Western Europe, Russia and the Ottoman Empire. The dynamics of interactions between the different groups is an interesting and valuable theme for our times. This would help set Lapedatu’s work into a broader context and maintain its relevance.