The PLURAL Forum for Interdisciplinary Studies

About

The PLURAL Forum for Interdisciplinary Studies is a not-for-profit organisation based in the Republic of Moldova. It aims at initiating and carrying out analyses and discussions of phenomena and social issues neglected or distorted in the public space, such as inequality, oppression, identities, cultures, power and ideologies.

Starting from its official registration in 2011, the PLURAL Forum NGO has been involved in a number of externally funded, sponsored and pro bono activities. The academic journal PLURAL. History, Culture, Society (published in cooperation with Ion Creanga State Pedagogical University of Moldova) and the PLATZFORMA web portal of social analysis and critique are among its key projects. The PLURAL team also carried out several ambitious research projects and organized a series of significant academic events focusing on education, modernization, oppression and nationalism viewed from social and historical perspectives.

Members

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President

  • Petru
  • NEGURA
  • sociologist &
  • president of PLURAL

Vice presidents

  • Andrei
  • CUSCO
  • historian
  • Diana
  • DUMITRU
  • historian
  • Vitalie
  • SPRINCEANA
  • sociologist

Members

  • Philippe
  • BLASEN
  • historian & historian of religions
  • Aurelia
  • BORZIN
  • sociologist
  • Carter
  • JOHNSON
  • political scientist
  • Octavian
  • MUNTEANU
  • archaeologist
  • Sergiu
  • MUSTEATA
  • historian & archaeologist

In November 2013, the biannual journal PLURAL. History, Culture, Society was founded. PLURAL fosters the publication of high-quality articles and reviews concerning topics relating to East- and Southeast-European history and society that have attracted little research interest. We promote a critical approach towards historical sources, going against certain enduring and entrenched myths and stereotypes, which are directly connected to politically biased historical interpretations. We also encourage an academic dialogue that transcends the established disciplinary boundaries. This dialogue should contribute, in the long term, to the creation of an open space for critical debates, thus stimulating a lively exchange of ideas and the development of innovative approaches in the field of East- and Southeast-European Studies.

We focus on the regional dimension, but we also go beyond the limits of our particular geographical setting, taking into account the European and global context. Our journal aspires to be an academic forum and meeting point for the new generation of scholars in the field of the humanities and social sciences.

As our title suggests, we cover a wide range of topics that do not only enhance the visibility and relevance of local scholarship in the social sciences and humanities, but also engage in the on-going cross-border and trans-national dialogue and exchange of ideas, research models and academic traditions.

Our board of editors comprises:

Editor-in-chief:

Sergiu MUSTEATA, Dr., Professor, Department of History and Geography, Ion Creanga State Pedagogical University of Moldova;

Board members:

Igor CASU, Dr., Lecturer, Faculty of History and Philosophy, State University of Moldova;
Andrei CUSCO, Dr., Associate Professor, Department of History and Geography, Ion Creanga State Pedagogical University of Moldova;
Diana DUMITRU, Dr., Associate Professor, Department of History and Geography, Ion Creanga State Pedagogical University of Moldova;
Octavian MUNTEANU, Dr., Associate Professor, Department of History and Geography, Ion Creanga State Pedagogical University of Moldova;
Petru NEGURA, Dr., Lecturer, Chair of Sociology and Social Work, Free International University of Moldova;
Valentina URSU, Dr., Associate Professor, Department of History and Geography, Ion Creanga State Pedagogical University of Moldova;
Philippe BLASEN, researcher.

The journal is affiliated with the Department of History and Geography of the Ion Creanga State Pedagogical University in Chisinau, Moldova. For further details, including submission guidelines, see the journal's web page.

Bursa PLURAL

A research fellowship in Moldova

In 2020, the PLURAL Forum decided to create a three-month research fellowship in Moldova. The first fellowship will be awarded in April 2021.

The grant is awarded every year to one MA2- or PhD-level student in the field of history, the social sciences, or other humanities. It is intended for persons under 35 years of age studying at universities in the EU (excluding Romania), EFTA, UK, US, and Canada.

The application should consist of a short narrative CV (maximum 1 page), and a research proposal (of maximum 1000 words). The CV should include the applicant's year of birth, institutional affiliation, current academic status (including the year of the enrolment into the MA/MA2/PhD program), and level of local language proficiency. The applicant should have at least an A2-level knowledge of one of the following languages: Romanian, Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz, Romani. The research proposal should focus on Eastern Europe, in particular on Moldova (including the Transnistria Region), Romania, and/or Ukraine. Topics relating to marginal(ized) social, ethnic, and religious groups, as well as to non-mainstream subjects are particularly encouraged. Topics may also cover more recent developments. The research proposal should specify the preferred period of research (three consecutive months at any time between June 1 and December 31). In the case of advanced PhD students, a list of publications and a relevant publication (article or review-essay in the field) should be attached to the application. The application should be submitted in English or French.

Applications can be submitted between January 1 and March 1. The selection committee will consist of the PLURAL Forum members. The selection will be based on the originality and the coherence of the research proposal. The applicant should show at least some background knowledge of the context of his/her intended research subject, and present his/her argument persuasively. In the case of advanced PhD students, his/her previous publication record will be taken into account. The successful applicant will be notified on April 30.

The fellow will be required to spend the three months in residence in Moldova. However, short research trips to Romania or/and Ukraine are allowed. In Chisinau, the fellow may benefit from the support of the local PLURAL Forum members. They will provide relevant logicistical and academic advice and assistance.

At the end of the fellowship, a report on the fellow's personal experience and research results should be sent to the selection committee. This report should be written in either English or French. It will be published in the PLURAL journal. PhD students are encouraged to submit an article in the field to PLURAL within a year after the end of their fellowship.

The grant amounts to EUR 1,800 net, payable in three monthly instalments of EUR 600. There are no additional allowances for international travel, medical insurance, accommodation, and any other living expenses.

If the coronavirus pandemic is not over by April 2021, the fellowship starting date will be moved to 2022.

Please send your applications to bursa@plural.md.

PLURAL Local Archives & Collections Research Prize

In 2020, the PLURAL Forum established a prize for original research articles based on archives and/or collections held in Moldova, as well as in the neighbouring regions and counties in Ukraine and Romania. The first prize will be awarded on March 31, 2021.

The prize is awarded every year to one MA2-, PhD-, or postdoc-level student in the field of history, the social sciences, or other humanities. It is intended for persons under 40 years of age, who are still enrolled in a MA2 or PhD programme or who have defended their PhD thesis within the last five years from the date of the beginning of the application period.

The author may apply directly or be nominated by a scholar familiar with the author’s research and academic background.

The application should consist of the following documents:

  • in case of a direct application, a short narrative CV (maximum 1 page), including the applicant’s year of birth, institutional affiliation, and current academic status (mentioning the year of enrollment into the MA/MA2/PhD/postdoc programme, and, if applicable, the date of thesis defence);
  • in case of a nomination by another scholar, a letter of recommendation, including relevant personal and academic details of the nominee (see above);
  • the article submitted for consideration. The article must have been published in an indexed journal or a collective volume printed by an established publisher, in the year when the application period begins or in the previous calendar year. The text must be written in English, French, German, Romanian, or Russian. The length of the article must not be less than 4,000 words and should not exceed 12,000 words. In both cases, the word count includes the footnotes, but not the bibliography or the appendices. The article must be based on primary sources (documents or artefacts) held in public or private archives and/or collections in the Republic of Moldova, the Region of Chernivtsi, the Region of Odessa (Ukraine), or the counties of Suceava, Botosani, Iasi, Vaslui, or Galati (Romania). Topics relating to marginal(ized) social, ethnic, and religious groups, as well as to non-mainstream subjects are particularly taken into consideration.

Applications can be submitted every year during a two-month period beginning on December 1 and ending on January 31. The selection committee will consist of the PLURAL Forum members. The selection will be based on the originality and the coherence of the article. The winner of the prize will be notified on March 31 and announced on this website and on twitter.

The prize amounts to EUR 250 net.

If the article was not originally published in English, the winner is given the opportunity to publish an English version in the PLURAL journal.

Please send your applications to prize@plural.md

Projects

Social projects

In November 2013, the PLURAL Forum engaged into a fruitful partnership with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) in Moldova. This partnership aims at carrying out social investigations and analyses through the independent media outlet run by the PLURAL Forum - www.platzforma.md.

In 2015/2016 the PLURAL Forum also benefited from a grant awarded by the US Embassy in Moldova, through the Program “Endowment for Democracy”. This grant funded a project consisting of a series of social investigations. The resulting articles were published on the independent platform www.platzforma.md from December 2015 to March 2016. These investigations, most of them published, filled a gap in the Moldovan public sphere. They enhanced public knowledge and provided crucial new information about certain marginalized groups in our society, e.g.: psychiatric patients, certain groups of women (mothers with small children, Roma women, and aged women), local workers employed in international textile factories, the homeless, and marginalized religious groups. Grant details: June 2015-March 2016: Endowment for Democracy Grants Program – US Embassy in Moldova. Project title: “Pleading for Democracy and Inclusion in Moldova” (S-MD700-15-GR-055); USD 6,500.

From September 2016 to August 2017, the PLURAL Forum was involved in another research project focusing on homeless people in Moldova. This project was made possible by the support of the OAK Foundation, an international NGO based in London, which is interested in promoting and consolidating a number of reforms and services specific to this field in Moldova. The research scrutinized the extent, the driving factors and the impact of homelessness in Moldova. The study was coordinated and supervised by Dr Petru Negura, who conducted interviews with homeless people and social work professionals, collected quantitative data and engaged with the relevant NGOs and stakeholders. Negura also analyzed the relevant legislation in the field. The project outcome consisted in a comprehensive piece of research that informed and supported the Oak Foundation's strategy on dealing with homelessness in Moldova. The total grant budget was USD 30,000.

Starting with February 2017, the PLURAL Forum received a grant from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) in Moldova for producing and elaborating a series of thematic dossiers to be published on the www.platzforma.md website. This series of thematic dossiers (4-5 articles/pieces per dossier) aimed to produce a comprehensive set of analyses, investigations, essays, and discussions focusing on the most significant social, political and economic topics in Moldova. For each dossier, a discussion was organised in a public location in Chisinau (Teatru-Spalatorie, the Zemstvo Museum, Propaganda Cafe, etc.), with the participation of the relevant stakeholders, including activists, experts, scholars, representatives of local businesses and local and/or national-level public authorities. The total grant amount was USD 12,000.

From September 2019 to February 2020, the PLURAL Forum carried out a national study of the wheelchair public service in Moldova, in partnership with the MUSE UK organisation, University College London (UCL) and the Free International University of Moldova. The aim of the study - Mapping of Wheelchair Provision and Usage in Moldova - was to conduct research on the current state of the wheelchair service in the Republic of Moldova. The study also aimed at identifying the gaps in the service and producing a set of realistic, context-specific, achievable recommendations in order to enhance the quality of the service. In particular, the study sought to improve the coordination, efficiency and transparency of the national service, so that its beneficiaries might lead more independent and inclusive lives within their community and workplace. The project was supported by the UK Embassy in Moldova with a grant of GBP 29,954.

Academic projects

In May 2011, the PLURAL Forum co-organized, in cooperation with the Department of World History at the Ion Creanga State Pedagogical University of Moldova, an international workshop on the topic of "Memory of the Second World War in Central and Eastern Europe". The workshop was an outstanding academic event, in particular due to its substantial results and to the original contributions presented at the conference. A collective volume, including the best papers, was published by Cartier in 2013, with our NGO's members serving as editors. This activity was supported by a grant of EUR 15,000 awarded by the Open Society Foundations (ReSET Program).

From June 2011 to May 2014, the PLURAL Forum, in collaboration with the Department of World History at the Ion Creanga State Pedagogical University of Moldova, initiated and developed a three-year project on “Social Mobility and Modernization in 20th century Eastern Europe”, in the framework of the Open Society Foundations' “Regional Seminar for Excellence in Teaching” (ReSET) Program. The project's format included three longer summer workshops (with a duration of approximately two weeks each) and three intermediary sessions. The project mainly targeted a group of academics holding junior teaching positions within university departments in the social sciences and the humanities. The geographical focus of the seminar included the non-EU East European countries (mostly covering the states of the former Soviet Union). The selection of participants was based on academic excellence, their involvement in the promotion of educational innovation in their home institutions, sufficient proof of research skills, foreign-language proficiency and their commitment to the values of open, participative and student-centered education. For the organization of six summer and winter school sessions, between 2011 and 2014, the PLURAL Forum and the Ion Creanga State Pedagogical University received a total grant of EUR 300,000.

From November 2011 to July 2014, the Plural Forum initiated and organised a regular Doctoral Seminar in Social Sciences in partnership with several academic institutions in Moldova and abroad. The Doctoral Seminar aimed to fill a gap left by the Moldovan higher education system. The doctoral programs in Moldova still lack a systematic curriculum (with lectures and seminars) for PhD students. The Doctoral Seminar offered Moldovan PhD students in the social sciences (history, sociology, anthropology, etc.) the opportunity to take part in a series of thematic and methodological seminars. In particular, it aimed at updating and improving the development of PhD-level research in accordance with the accepted international academic standards. The Doctoral Seminar was a pro bono / voluntary activity. For additional details, see the blog of the PLURAL Doctoral Seminar.

Media projects

In October 2013, PLATZFORMA (PZF) - Review of Social Critique, a new online platform of social analysis and criticism, was launched. The platform aims to become an online environment for reflection and critical analysis. By publishing high-quality and well-informed discussions and analyses of social phenomena and of certain issues neglected or distorted in the public sphere (i.e., inequality, vulnerability, oppression, identities, cultures, ideologies, etc.), PZF highlights the need for deconstructing the dominant patterns of understanding these phenomena and issues in our society. Moreover, PZF intends to broaden the public discourse in Moldova by including and supporting visions hitherto marginalized or ignored, and by hosting meetings and discussions between holders of different or opposing views. In 2014, the PLURAL NGO received a grant of EUR 2,500 from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) in Moldova for a series of 5 dossiers, composed of 5 articles each, focusing on various topics (including: educational reforms, European integration, the deportations from Bessarabia and Transnistria during the 20th century, the Transnistrian region, migrants and migration).

(c)MMXX