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This book studies the interactions of individuals in motion across the borderlands of East Central Europe. It benefited from another set of long interactions I was privileged enough to have, with very knowledgeable and generous friends and colleagues. Sorin Antohi, Diana Mishkova, Anca Oroveanu, Balázs Trencsényi and Marius Turda were, over the years, always willing to talk, react, help and enlighten me on various complicated historical bits and larger theoretical vistas.

Colleagues from Centre for Advanced Studies Sofia and Collegium Budapest, especially Kinga-Koretta Sata and Levente Szabó, taught me a lot about the intricacies of the entangled histories in general, and of the Habsburg Empire, of Hungary and Romania, in special. At the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin I was fortunate enough to talk to Roger Chickering and Dipesh Chakrabarty on the theoretical problems I stumbled on, while trying to understand the history of social sciences and state-building. The wonderful librarians from both the Wissenschaftskolleg and the Woodrow Wilson International Centre were amazing in finding obscure texts and books, and in guiding me inside a complicated bibliography that was amassing as I worked through my projects. While in Washington, D.C., Vladimir Tismăneanu provided generous help and important comments on my work on the interwar social scientists and their interesting post-war destinies. At New Europe College, in Bucharest, I was fortunate enough to befriend and benefit from the theoretical and philosophical hints and perspectives of Emilian Cioc.

My friends and colleagues from the University of Bucharest, Liviu Chelcea and Gabriel Jderu, put up with endless stories about strange nineteenth-century characters, helped me frame and gain some distance from them and, at the same time, made them more human, jocular and alive. Dumitru Sandu read parts of the book and encouraged me, repeatedly, to finish the manuscript.

Andrei Cușco, Lazăr Vlăsceanu, Matei Costinescu, Ileana Dascălu, and Norbert Petrovici slogged through the entire manuscript draft and gave me great feedback. Andrei Cușco also shared with me his amazing knowledge of the Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, and Bessarabian borderlands that play such an important part in my book. Andrei Sorescu was always supportive and kind enough to make me part of his extended knowledge of nineteenth-century socialism. Kathleen Parthé and Axinte Frunză helped me track down and understand some hard to find Russian texts and translations. Tomasso Giordani told me about other similar research projects on the creation of the social, and helped me take a glimpse into the history of Italian Marxism. Adrian Tătăran shared with me anarchist texts and journals and helped me see the wider picture of nineteenth-century anarchism. Cosmin Koszor was very helpful in pointing to me the larger history of nineteenth and twentieth-century scientific associations. Alina Cucu and Adrian Deoancă read parts of the manuscript, framed it in amazingly imaginative ways and encouraged me to go on with my research and writing.

Support came from the above-mentioned institutions but also from my home university (University of Bucharest), the Romanian Cultural Institute, and from a fellowship granted by the European Institute for Advanced Study at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Central European University. I want to thank Nadia al Bagdadi, the director of the Institute, and all the amazing staff, especially Éva Gönczi. In Budapest, Mihai Rusu, Tatjana Buklijas, Emese Lafferton, and Karl Hall helped me a lot in making sense of a huge area of history of science including medicine, public health, and bacteriology. I undertook the final assemblage of the book as a fellow of both the Centre for Advanced Studies Sofia, and New Europe College. I want to thank Katharina Biegger for engaging with my project and making me clarify and understand it better.

My thanks go to my editor at Brill, Alex Drace-Francis, not only for the editing part but also for the constant intellectual inspiration and the challenge his writings on Romania provided over the years. I thank also Brill’s anonymous readers for helpful comments and observations. Ivo Romein and Diethard Sawicki were always encouraging, efficient and prompt.