Author:Monica Vasile (Humboldt University/ IRITHESys)
Paper short abstract:
The paper will analyze the value and meanings attributed to recently restored community-owned forests in rural areas of Romania, stressing on the role of emotional commitment enhanced through memory and historical symbolism.
Paper long abstract:
My paper brings into focus recent property reforms in the post socialist context of Eastern Europe. Land, forests and pastures were devolved into the hands of private owners, namely individuals, associations or municipality structures. In Romania, the whole process was characterised by a strong emphasis on restoring social justice through restitution of the 'same' land that was taken away by the communists.
The paper will analyze the value and meanings that people attribute to recently restored community-owned forests in rural areas of Romania, based on a fieldwork research pursued in a micro-comparative setting (10 villages).
The anthropological literature suggests that both rational self-interest and emotional commitments are needed in order to act properly in the economic field. In my case, the symbolic dimension is the one that keeps people interested and involved in the processes related to their forests. I will show that property in its collective forms might contain a very strong affective and symbolic dimension, based on the memory of former practices and the historical legitimacy that keeps the resource significant in people's mind and life, although mostly deprived of its material value.
The paper will deploy different types of narratives produced by different types of actors, like the "narrative of deprivation", the "narrative of collectiveness", the "narrative of continuity" and furthermore by showing the way in which these narratives might influence actions.