Rocking under the Hammer and the Sickle: Popular Music in Socialist Romania between Ideology and Entertainment (1948-1989)

Rocking under the Hammer and the Sickle: Popular Music in Socialist Romania between Ideology and Entertainment (1948-1989)

Postdoctoral Research  PN-III-P1-1.1-PD-2021-0244


18 April 2022 – 17 April 2024

Valentina SANDU-DEDIU, Rector, New Europe College, Professor, National University of Music, Bucharest

Project Leader:
Claudiu OANCEA, PhD, NEC Alumnus

©Călin Pop, Celelalte cuvinte, 1988

The proposed project aims to examine the history of popular music in socialist Romania, from 1948 until 1989, focusing, in particular, on the genres of jazz, rock, and light music and on their role in performing communist and nationalist ideologies, as well as in addressing demands of cultural consumption for various audiences. The project takes an interdisciplinary approach, as it brings together instruments of analysis from cultural and social history, cultural anthropology, and musicology. The research project construes the popular music genres of jazz, rock, and light music as spaces of interaction/negotiation between audiences and musicians, musicians and cultural activists/representatives of political authority, as well as between musicians themselves, depending on their social background, musical education and influences, and administrative authority/ies. While it focuses on the Romanian national context, the project also relies on an asymmetrical historical comparison with other national case studies of popular music behind the Iron Curtain (Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and the Soviet Union).


Video presentation:


-Claudiu Oancea, “From Blackened Valhalla to Hyperborean Dacia: The Romanian Black Metal Scene as a Case Study of Cultural Migration”, Elke Weesjes, Matthew Worley (eds.) Music, Subcultures and Migration. Routes and Roots, New York: Routledge, 2024, pp. 155-169.

-Claudiu Oancea, “Music on the Turntables when the Turntables are Turning: A History of Record Stores in Romania from Late Socialism to the Present”, Gina Arnold, John Dougan, Christine Feldman-Barrett, Matthew Worley (eds.), The Life, Death and Afterlife of the Record Store. A Global History, Bloomsbury Academic, 2023, pp. 120-133.

Academic presentations:

-Claudiu Oancea, „Rocking Out, Giving In: Rock Music in Socialist Romania between Everyday Life, Ideology, and Entertainment”, presented at the Conference „Everyday Life in State Socialist Societies” (Croatia, May 12-15, 2022)

-Claudiu Oancea, „Closed Borders and Open Access: Black Markets and Popular Music in Socialist Romania during the 1970s and 1980s”, presented at the Society for Romanian Studies Conference (Timișoara, Romania, June, 2022)

-Claudiu Oancea, „Over the Top, Behind the Bloc: Technological Transfers and Popular Music in Socialist Romania (1960s-1980s)”, presented at the “Baltic Connections” Conference, organized by the University of Jyväskylä (Finland, June 2022)

-Claudiu Oancea, „Over the Hills and Far Away: Popular Music Transfers Between Socialist Romania and the Global South”, presented at the 54th ASEEES Annual Convention (USA, November 10-13, 2022)

-Claudiu Oancea, „Between Academic Oblivion and Public Sparks of Interests: Popular Music Studies in Post-Communist Romania”, presented at „Popular Cultures – 8th annual conference of the Kulturwissenschaftliche Gesellschaft (KWG)”, organized by Saarland University in Saarbrücken, Germany. (September 2023)

-Claudiu Oancea, „From Fakelore to Ethno-Pop and In-Between: Folk and Pop Music in Late Socialist and Post-Socialist Romania”, presented at the Conference „Pop after Communism. The Transformation of Popular Culture after 1989/1990”, organized by the Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam (Germany, November 15-17, 2023)

-Claudiu Oancea, „Off the Record and Across the Border: Informal Cultural Transfers and Popular Music in Socialist Romania during the 1970s and 1980s”, presented at the 55th ASEEES Annual Convention (USA, November 30-December 3rd, 2023)


History Repeating? Researching Cold War Popular Music during the New Cold War: Perspectives, Challenges, and Ego-Histories
Roundtable, 2 April 2024, at NEC & via Zoom

A Music So Popular That No Curtain Could Contain: Popular Music and Cultural Transfers during the Cold War
International Workshop, 5 December 2022, at NEC & via Zoom