Accepted Paper:

Contested memories in a multiethnic context: forms of commemorations in Cluj-Napoca (Romania)  


Albert Zsolt Jakab (Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the social usage of memory and seeks to explore the multiple roles and functions that the figures and representations of (cultural) memory have played and continue to play in representing, mediating and manipulating collective memory and politics within the multiethnic context.

Paper long abstract:

Transylvania, annexed to Romania in 1920, is a place of continuous Romanian-Hungarian conflicts. There is always a domain of conflict between the Hungarian minority and the Romanian majority represented by the construction, the invention and commemorative use of the past. In my ethnographic and socioanthropologic analysis I focus on the place-making, memorial monuments and objects, the institutionalized uses of cultural memory and the interethnic relations and symbolic behaviors that stay behind it in contemporary Cluj-Napoca.

The system change of 1989 brought along not only a political fracture, but also one in the imagined past. On the social level resulted in the drama of diminuation of belief in the institutions and authorities. The past constructed up to that point naturally lost its political legitimacy. The period of time after 1989 proved to be one of the most productive regarding local construction of memory; show how great social and political changes reshape attitudes to the past, and reveal differences between the old system and the new. Reinterpretation of the public sphere and the space, its resettlement with past events is a permanent endeavor for dominant groups, and of those in formation. I would like to analyze more deeply the tendencies of past construction, the contested memories and contributes to identitary settings. What previously exposed component of the past was made invisible by the new system? What conflicts were revealed, what kind of identity strategies, legitimating processes and national discourses were put into motion by the construction of (new) memory?

Panel P26
Mediation and circulation of cultural memory in identity settings