"Questions of Identity, Romanipe, and Romanianness during the Deportations of Roma to Transnistria, 1940-1944"
M. Ben Thorne received an M.A. in history from Indiana University and a B.A. in history and English literature from Guilford College in North Carolina. During his tenure at the Museum, he was a Ph.D. candidate in East European history at Indiana University. For his Raul Hilberg Fellowship, Mr. Thorne conducted research for his project, “Questions of Identity, Romanipe, and Romanianness during the Deportations of Roma to Transnistria, 1940-1944.”
Mr. Thorne is the recipient of several fellowships and awards including the Fulbright-Hays Directed Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship; Social Science Research Council Independent Dissertation Research Fellowship; Mellon Pre-Dissertation Grant; Sara and Albert Reuben Scholarship to Study the Holocaust; FLAS language fellowships; and several travel grants. He was selected to participate in the 2006 intensive reading-comprehension course Reading Yiddish for Holocaust Research sponsored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and Indiana University. In 2004, he participated in the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies’ symposium The Holocaust in Romania. Mr. Thorne has previously worked as an editorial assistant for the American Historical Review and has presented his research on the Roma, Romania, and the Holocaust at various conferences in the United States and Europe. He has language skills in Romanian, Hungarian, German, Yiddish, Polish and French.
During his tenure at the Center, Mr. Thorne studied the perceptions of self and “otherness” among Romanians and Roma in the early 1940s against the backdrop of a broader nationalist project, based in part on eugenics, to identify and excise a segment of the population construed as being a threat to the body politic. In particular, he explored the ways in which the Antonescu regime’s methods of identifying and deporting Roma posed questions of self-perception both to ordinary Romanians and to Roma, and the spectrum of identities evident in their responses. For his research, he utilized the Museum’s collection of deportation records of Roma from Romania and the many secondary sources on Romania and the Roma, as well as items from the Museum’s Photo Archive and the Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive.
Mr. Thorne was in residence at the Mandel Center from June 2 to October 8, 2008.