Romanian-born Serge Moscovici died at 89

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Romanian-born French social psychologist died on Sunday at the age of 89. He was the director of the European Laboratory of Social Psychology, which he co-founded in 1974 in Paris.

Moscovici was born in Br?ila to Jewish parents, who were grain merchants. After his mother abandoned him, Serge frequently relocated, together with his father, spending time in Cahul (now on R. Moldova territory), Galati and Bucharest. From an early age, Moscovici suffered the effects of anti-Semitic discrimination: in 1938, he was expelled from a Bucharest high school on the basis of newly issued anti-Semitic legislation. In later years, he commented on the impact of the Iron Guard.

Faced with an ideological choice between Zionism and communism, he opted for the latter, and, in 1939, joined the then-illegal Romanian Communist Party, being introduced by a clandestine activist whom he knew by the pseudonym Kappa. During WWII, he spent three years in a forced labor camp, but it was then that he learnt French all by himself and read a lot of philosophical works. Initially welcoming Soviet occupation, Moscovici grew progressively disillusioned with communist politics, and noted the incidence of anti-Semitism among Red Army soldiers.As the communist regime was taking over and the Cold War erupted, he helped Zionist dissidents cross the border illegally.

For this, he was implicated in a 1947 trial held in Timisoara and decided to leave Romania for good. He settled in Paris where, supported by a refugee fund, studied psychology at the Sorbonne. His multiple works and researches in the field placed him in the public eye as “the father of the social psychology”, with the social representations concept in the limelight.

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