The present project is proposing a multi-, inter- and trans-disciplinary model for different interaction types and varieties, which the ensemble of communicative codes and systems, social relations, “symbolic goods” (discourses, texts, works of art), institutions, practices, traditions and so on, constitutive at a given time, for what is called the Romanian cultural “identity”, has developed in its specific manifestation area, determinable from a geographic and historical point of view, through its natural intersection in the social and historical common place of the European civilization with that identity ensemble which comes under the broad concept of “German culture”.
The Underlying Concept of Culture
The theoretical impulse on which this endeavor is based derives from the thematic sphere of cultural studies and is connected to a key notion ofthis conceptual apparatus: “the contact between cultures.” The literary and cultural comparative studies, a product which is typical of the 19th century positivism, have developed a complex methodology, starting from the premise that the constituent elements of a certain cultural “identity”, established primarily in a “culture language”, contain their own historicaldynamics, being inevitably open to the contact with corresponding elements of other cultural “identities.” From here derives a long line of descriptors for some typical processes that the history of culture has registered and classified, as a consequence of a secular experience, as phenomena, such as “influence,” “reception,” “acculturation,” “amalgamation,” “assimilation,” “diffusion,” “exchanges,” etc. However, the horizon opened by the contemporary studies of cultural anthropology shows an initial deficit of this vision, according to which the traditional comparative studies build “gatherings” / “confrontations” between separate and supposedly homogenous cultural “units” / “monads”. Such a vision, nourished on the one hand by a scientific discourse inspired by the old ethnology, and delimitating the pre-modern, “natural” / primitive / retrograde societies from the modern, “civilized” / advanced, which are in a continual progress, but on the other hand guided by the possibilities through which the cultural differences have been politically, discursively and symbolically interpreted within the modern national state, where the individual and collective “inclusion” and “exclusion” on the criteria of language, religion and culture are being considered a natural “given fact”, sufficient to draw the border between ego and alter, between “self” and “foreign”, has fed an essentialist and unhistorical concept of history as an invariable “inward” entity and strictly marked (also spatially) by an “outside.”
As a matter of fact, similar to the constitution of modern nations as imagined communities, the “national” cultures have legitimized themselves holistically, through the myth of an original and “organic” “authenticity,” sheltering an initial sense, absolute and unique, allegedly preserved, according to Herder and his disciples, by the “popular” cultures. In order to guarantee the order and stability of such a construction as culture, a construction unstable par excellence because it transmits a human experience in motion, the society has organized “blockage” mechanisms, as Steven Greenblatt called them,meant to leave out what may suggest the (historical) variability of its underpinning norms and values ; the most convincing example is the selectivity with which the “national” states and movements have selected criteria (a certain language, a certain “founding” narrative, certain cultural practices and not others) through which one may support the “essential” and unhistorical character of culture through which they legitimize themselves.The great challenges of modernization, among which we find the technological progress and industrialization, the affirmation and assertion of capitalist production relations, urbanization, attended by the emergence of national consciousness and of the corresponding ideologies, have led more than once to intolerant policies and assumed homogenizing ones in relation to what was perceived as Alterity (or Otherness) and especially in geographically direct contact areas.
Well-founded in a movement connected to the so called cultural turnin the Humanities and stimulated especially by the reflection initiated by the postcolonial studies, this vision is countered today by a “constructivist” school of thought that understands the “cultural difference” as a product of different processes of symbolic construction, in other words as a relational and relative category, variable according to contexts and situations, “negotiable” and, at the same time, dependent on the power relations of the social ensemble; the boundary between what is seen as one’s “own”/ “inside”, respectively “foreign” / “outside” is presented as rather fluid, unstable, fluctuant. The concept of “cultural difference” that results thusly, has completely lost the traditional descriptive (passive) function in the ethnographic perception of discrepancies between the individual and the collective manifestations, and acts rather as a modeling (active) gear, cognitively and socially, with a “coveraging,” ordering and subjective explaining role of the “life world” (Lebenswelt), which, in an extremely radical formulation, could mean that the cultural differences do not exist in an “objective” way, but only as discursive expressions of the production of political, social and cultural signifiers. The “hybridization” of cultures analyzed by Homi Bhabha would result from a permanent dis-placement of cultural elements (practices, discourses, artifacts etc.), a dynamic of appropriating new signs, as well as of altering and renewing the significations ofthose already in place (rituals, symbols, behavioral manifestations etc.) in a certain social space: „Cultures are only constituted in relation to that otherness internal to their own symbol-forming activity“ (Bhaba in Jonathan Rutherford [ed.] : Identity, Community, Culture, Difference, London 1990, p. 210). Already at the level of each individual, the “hybridization” would constitute a reality of their “fragmented” belonging (patchwork) to different categories (ethnicity, social class, gender) and to competing categories, which make the “difference”, the Other co-exists with the Self within an identity, that is itself in a continuous process of reorientation and redefining, where any rigid anchorage in a given pattern is illusory. The multiple codifications of individual and collective identities from within denounce the appearance of coherence and “unity” of any cultural entity / community, an appearance that the institutions of the dominant political “powers” try to impose in its own “re-productive” interest.
From the Individual to the Collective and Vice Versa
The relation between the action of individual actors and the entities that these may build (groups, institutions) is determined in both ways: the social environment is the one which ingrains the sense of individual action, but, at the same time, only through this individual action may those “nodes” and “networks” be born, in order to structure the collective space of social practice, in which the actors enter a “system” regulated by interdependencies. This double determination is ideally projected in the concept of habitus, promoted by Pierre Bourdieu: “the mental program” that, for each individual, synthesizes the experiences accumulated in the social field in a “habitus,” predetermining their practices and representations, becomes at a collective level a common configuration of thought, which is accomplished through the actions of individual subjects in a moving social space – “built” as a metaphor of the objective physical space – and in the social fields associated to this; they are born in the daily contact that the social practice imposes upon the individuals and which, like a “field of forces,” influences their actions just as the interaction between them leads to the permanent reconfiguration of the collective habitus. Within a “cultural field,” as well as within other social fields (political, economic, etc.) a canvas of “power” relations is structured between different actors that are permanently fighting for legitimization and establishing a hierarchy, where the possession of symbolic capital represents the tie-breaker between those in the dominant position and those “dominated.” Insofar as the guiding marksaround which such virtual relational spaces are configured correspond to some specific social-cultural practices that may be found through codes, sign systems, certain languages and so on and the “power” relations between different categories of “dominant” and the “dominated” are materialized in a temporal more or less fixed (historical) framework– even without drawing precise borders between an “inside” and an “outside” – their geographical space becomes possible. The fluid boundaries of a “social production” space may be substituted by “regional” and “transnational” constructions – “unintentional” entities, as Milan Kundera called them – as well as that of “Central Europe” (Zentraleuropa) according to Moritz Csaky and/or of the “Balkans” as Maria Todorova’s research proposes.
According to these theoretical coordinates, one may justify the reservation of many researchers towards the strictly territorial concept of “national culture,” which means above everything else defining some homogenous “national” identities, protected by a political power embodied by the “national” state, where, as Miklas Luhmann noted, the language, culture and the statehood are intermingled with a historically determined political mission. The relevance of the so-called lieux de mémoire, fundamental identity-related clues to which an individual or a collective entity relates, cannot be reduced to a strict “national” one, because their codification proves to be multiple in the historical process, like a “palimpsest” – which corresponds to the pleas of post-structuralism and postmodernism in the wake of Michel Foucault, for understanding the cultural “identities” as an unstable, fluctuant, multiple and fragmented “mark”. Clifford Geertz’s warning that not the “coherence” must represent the evidence of a culture’s existentialist validity favors those “contextual” definitions of culture, such as Jürgen Habermas’s “public space” (Öffentlichkeit), Pierre Bourdieu’s “field,” Erving Goffman’s “frame,” definitions that include the older enunciations, derived from the cultural anthropology, for example that of Bronislaw Malinowski (“comprehensive binding agent of human behavior”, including “usage and consumption of goods, ideas and abilities, dogmata and unwritten laws”) or that of Geert Hofstede (“collective programming of the spirit that distinguishes a group or a category of individuals from another”). As aguiding, cognitive and social pattern of adaptation / confrontation of a community to / with its environment, the culture can be projected, as Moritz Csaky proposes, in a “communicational space” (Kommunikationsraum) – a “region” like Central Europe that, in spite of its geographic counterpart, is conceived here pragmatically as an “abstraction” without an ontological basis – that concentrates an entire ensemble of signs, symbols and codes, through which the individuals communicate verbally and non-verbally in a social context and according to a certain system of rules. In such a “space,” various constellations of differences meet, where the component elements / signifiers are perpetually moving back and forth and their interpretation and re-interpretation represent a continuous process of performative “negotiation” between communication partners. But on the other hand, even if such “communicational spaces” are ultimately conceived as “open”, hybrid and mobile, the differences between them must not be ignored. The “barriers”, themselves permeable, between these “unities” of “pluralities” would depend first of all, according to Csaky, on the different languages that determine the different cultural contexts, but they also exist on the scale of social differences that correspond to separate “communicational spaces,” or in different configurations of memory, depository of a collective historical experience that belongs to certain groups and categories of individuals and not to others.
Groups and Categories
With a direct reference to the metaphor of that third spacepromoted by Homi Bhabha, in which the cultures would be dissolved in a continuous process of the “translation” of meanings in such a way that its hybridity would depreciate any certainty of any given meaning, and the orientation in this infinite universe would become finally impossible, Michel Espagne did not fail to mention that this vision of a general “creolization” of culture cannot and should not dispute the reality (even if conventional) of some social structures / forms / configurations (people, nation, minority, etc.) that defines the collective existence of individuals at a certain time; the old subject of the “psychology of peoples” that is based essentially on the complex and ambiguous cultural memory from which the self-consciousness of a certain social group is nurtured in a given temporal sequence, could suggest, according to him, a beneficial equilibrium in defining culture.
The specific bonding agent of these groups is represented by the common inter-subjective references, behaviors, mechanisms and rules of understanding, whose existence is projected in an array of “spaces,” they themselves perpetually subject to reconfiguration through social “productivity” but at the same time anchored in a physical reality expandable through more and more complex couplings, from the dimensions of a place (city, metropolis) to a regional, state (national) and global (transnational) scale. Starting from the fact that the discussion regarding the existence of such groups (including those of “ethnicity” or “race”, still used in the daily Vulgate) as a given fact has been overcome along with the distance that the contemporary culturology has gained from the old homogenizing practices of “reification”, one may simultaneously admit that they have the gift to constitute, as categories of praxis, more direct forms of perception, explanation and representation of the social world; the subjective and interactive mechanisms of individual interferences from which this identity feeling of solidarity, of reciprocal attachment, of social or cultural belonging to a certain collective entity and not to another, as well as the functioning of the collective action, including that of the moment of contact between groups / collective entities, become this way more transparent and, consequently, intelligible.
In view of our project, we follow this “trans-cultural” approach of a common “communicational space”, in which the individuals and the collective entities are simultaneously “emitters” and “receptors” of cultural signs, symbols and codes and where, while they connect to each other in networks and “nodes”, the differences have not been annihilated, but they acknowledge themselves reciprocally. The concept of “cultural transfer” proposed in the nineties by Michel Espagner and Michael Werner, initially as an analytic tool of investigating different types of reciprocal cultural relations that have been long developing between the “French” and the “German” (linguistic and cultural space), has proved in the following decades to be very prolific in the field of cultural studies, as the deconstruction of “identities” deposited in the representation of European and non-European “national” cultures has revealed as open relational fabrics, where the “identity” is the result of a long and unconscious “creolization.”In modeling these processes of (peaceful and antagonistic) contact, the research of the networks through which these are working, has concentrated on the individual and especially collective intermediates (certain social groups), taking into account also the motivations (necessities, interests, social roles, etc.) that have determined the fluxes, sometimes at a micro level, of cultural “import” and “export”, with everything they brought for the appropriation and reconfiguration of “specific” contents and values. In front of the challenges induced by the spatial and temporal dimensions of this research approach, the history of culture had to resort to the concepts developed by the theory of communication, of discourse analysis, of anthropology and ethnology, art history, the history of ideas and institutions, and last but not least of translation studies; for that reason many have regarded the “transfer” as an operation of endless “transposition” / “translation”. This dynamic representation of culture that overcomes the linearity of the relation between two or more linguistic and cultural “spaces”, where the exchange of information, practices, symbols, objects, etc. produces permanent mutations of the specific codes of the collectivities that come in contact, this representation leads to the definition of the concept of “transfer” as a trans-cultural circulation of different cultural artifacts and their patterns, a circulation that means previously identifying the elements involved in the transfer as being “foreign”, exterior, hexogen to the system towards which they circulate and by which they are being absorbed.
The preferred object of transfer is, using a generalizing term introduced by Jürgen Osterhammel, “knowledge” (savoir, Wissen) transmitted not only through texts, discourses, publications, products of mass culture or through the “cultural” side of some essentially economic goods and techniques (production, distribution), but also directly through the immigration of individuals; in the transfer’s circuits enter also the juridical systems and institutions, including the regulations, procedures and forms of sociability connected to these. The processes that regulate the transfer develop in a succession of steps, starting with the selection of transferable elements, going through the proper transmission through individuals, groups, institutions (mainly schools) and ending with the reception, in which we may include different types of reaction, from imitation / acculturation to their creative appropriation / transformation. Ultimately, the networks that sustain the well functioning of the circulation between certain “spaces” involve temporal distances that exceed the chronology and are sustained by individual and collective intermediates (themselves marked by hybridity) and, last but not least, by the power and authority structures (not only symbolic) on which they rely. If we are to invoke this last aspect, which is very important in the social-political constellation regarding the cultures of the 19th and 20th centuries that are covering the “nation-state”, a convincing example for the effect that the power asymmetries provide in the cultural contacts is, for example, the asymmetric cultural transfer between cultural fields situated in an alleged “centre”, respectively at its “peripheries”: the criteria that would count in this case depend on an imbalance between two levels of symbolic capital, in other words “power” and prestige, as well as the diffusion of languages among which the transfer or their “literary character” (the number of works written in these languages absorbed by a certain “classical” or “universal” cannon). Thepostcolonial studies introduced a largely recurrent theme of the mechanisms of symbolic violence through which the self-proclaimed “superior” or “major” Western cultures have established the clichés of the Euro-centered discourse on the cultural alterity designated as “inferior” and “minor”.
We conceived the present project not as a “case study” meant to illustrate a certain theoretical construct. The fact that, as one will see, we intentionally appeal to the conventional use of some identity categories of praxis, in other words – according to Rogers Brupbaker – to categories linked to the everyday social experience (Romanian culture, German culture), and this keeping in mind the inadequacyrevealed by their analytical deconstruction, demonstrates that our priority is the investigation of the history of cultural facts which we have in view. Starting from the premises, fundamental for our endeavours, that the relationships which the Romanian culture established and maintained with the German one constitute, in our opinion, a “matter” insufficiently explored mainly in the sphere of concrete historical action, we are convinced at the same time that, reconstructing its complexity, it can by itself provide and enrich the theoretical reflection on the whole conceptual apparatus of “intercultural communication” circulating today.
The relationships established and maintained in time between actors and institutions to which can be attributed historically a “Romanian”, respectively a German cultural identity, especially in the social territory which coincides roughly to the one geographically delimited today by the spread of the Romanian language fall, however varied and different in magnitude and impact they seem, into the concept of “cultural impact.” A simple enumeration of the most important stages in their development, even since the first moments of the mutual discovery of the Otherness, illustrates basically almost all the ways, all fields, as well as all categories of (individual or collective) actors/intermediates through which the “transfer” process, as described by the theoretical studies, can develop.
From the spontaneous contacts between the vernacular populations and the successive groups of German speaking “colonists” who travelled to different zones of Central Europe in and outside the Carpathian area after the 12th century and until the economic role played by sites with urban character founded in the Middle Ages by Transylvanian Saxons in Transylvania, Moldavia and Greater Wallachia or the common resistance of the Romanian rulers and the Saxon towns against the Ottoman danger, the encounter of the two “cultures” meant closeness and acquaintance at the same time. Beginning with the incorporation of Banat and Transylvania, later of Bukovina in the Habsburg Empire, the German language became, through the Austrian army and administration, one of state authority; important for the intensification of the linguistic and cultural contacts with the Romanian population proved to be, among others, the new wave of German speaking “colonists” who settled down in Banat and Bukovina, the exception regime conferred to Romanians in the border regiments in the Carpathians or the possibilities opened up by the United Church for the Romanian clerics to study in the West. The Josephinian school politics, which programmatically favoured German, had a positive echo among the Romanian elite, who preferred it to the Hungarian language in Transylvania or to Polish in Bukovina. No less did the elites in the Romanian principalities contribute as well to a cultural closeness which was made unavoidable by the relationships with Austrian political and military factors, book circulation, translations, travels, the import of German teachers and the more and more frequent studies of young boyars from Moldavia and Greater Wallachia in the Central European schools. The regional typology differences in the German cultural presence in the geographical space inhabited by Romanians were maintained and deepened in the 19th century, given the political and social evolutions which accompanied the modernisation process. If in the provinces which were part of the Habsburg Empire (but also in Bessarabia as constituent of the Russian Empire) the German speaking communities built into territorial and linguistic enclaves their own cultural fields differentiated according to their social (urban/rural) and religious (Protestant/Catholic/Mosaic) profile, specifically (including politically) related to the cultural fields of the other ethno-linguistic communities in the Principalities and, after their union, in the Romanian state, the German language and culture was considered more and more a vehicle for rapid modernisation and for the connection of the Romanian society with the standards of the European civilisation. The election of Karl of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen as ruling prince, from 1881 onwards king of Romania, has in this sense a symbolic value for the “catalytic” effect, as Lucian Blaga named it, of the German culture: not only the (secret) alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary, but also the involvement of the German and Austrian capital in the development of the Romanian economy, as well as the indirect influence through numerous Romanian intellectuals educated in Central European schools and universities, has consolidated a strong “Germanophile” tendency in the Romanian politics and culture before World War I. Romania’s entering the war in 1916 on the side of the adversaries of the Central Powers is due to the fact that national considerations prevailed.
In order to examine the multitude of content and formal functional connections between the elements of the two cultural “identities”,we opted for a time interval which overlaps the period of democratic consolidation and cultural opening to the Otherness of the Romanian society after World War I. The year 1918 marks the dramatic ending moment of the conflagration, in which Romania fought Germany and Austria-Hungary; forced to conclude, in May 1918, the separate peace of Bucharest in the conditions of the enemy’s occupation in the South of the country, the Romanian state benefited fully of the military failure of the Central Powers of October 1918 in order to unite with Transylvania, Banat, Bukovina and Bessarabia, provinces inhabited by a population with a Romanian majority, but also by an important German speaking minority. The year 1933 is associated with the instauration in Germany of Hitler’s regime which, through its political and ideological offensive, which targeted among others the revision of the peace treaties and the reconfiguration of the influence zones, affected dramatically the entire system of the European balance; long term consequences of these mutations were reflected in the accelerated destabilisation of the connections between the actors of the inner political field and, indirectly, of the socio-cultural fields in Romania.
Establishing the chronological limits of our research involves another preliminary clarification regarding the project’s conception and methodology. Romania’s “unification” after World War I with the provinces which were before 1914 part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Empire: Transylvania, Banat, Bukovina, Bessarabia, materialized discursively and practically in a considerable territorial/spatial alteration. If we have already agreed that the “cultural transfer” processes develop between “social” spaces whose limits are variable and do not coincide at all with those of a “national” and even less with a state entity, the rightful interrogation is outlined regarding the dimensions of the virtual (social, linguistic, cultural) spaces between which or within which the contacts and the “cultural transfers” between individuals, collective entities, institutions with aseemingly preponderant “Romanian” and/or German cultural “identity” functioned in all their diversity.
The distinction which we consider relevant in respect to the time threshold (with all its political consequences) represented by the year 1918, is that between an “imperial” moment and a “post imperial” one: we can consider grosso modo that a comprising “communication space” / “public space” / “cultural field” having as distinctive sign the use of the Romanian language was constituted only in the modern age from a multitude of cultural fields of narrower dimensions – functional even after their reunification in a common one – included separately in three imperial, multi-linguistic and multicultural political conglomerates: the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Empire, the Russian Empire. Although on both sides of the borders between the first two, on the Carpathian line, the public spaces of manifestation for the cultural production in the Romanian language (repressed and almost inexistent in Bessarabia) have aligned themselves, starting with the 19th century,to the ideologies with national finality, the contexts and the evolutions were sensitively different: if in the Principalities of Moldavia and Great Wallachia, reunited in a single state after 1859, the cultural fields took shape and emancipated on the background and in competition with a lieu de mémoire and a trans-cultural field of “Balkan” dimension, considered by Maria Todorova the identity heritage of the Ottoman and even of the Byzantine Empire (in the spirit of Nicolae Iorga’s Byzance après Byzance), in Transylvania, Banat and Bukovina they existed in the “communication space” corresponding to the Central European multi-identity region, related to the different contexts and requirements of the Hungarian political and cultural centralism and, respectively, of the Austrian specific “colonialism” of the Habsburg Monarchy’s peripheries. We have already seen that the same distinctions operate also in the functioning manner of the contacts with the German cultural fields: searching for prestigious Western models, the cultural fields of the Principalities and later of Romania appeal to massive cultural transfers from the “metropolitan” cultural fields around Berlin, Vienna and Prague, but also around smaller (university) centres; for the Romanian cultural fields of the Central European “communication space,” “dominated” in relation to the one of the (German and/or Hungarian) Centre, in the equation of the partnership with the German ones enters, besides the cultural space of the Viennese modernity, the local/peripheral German speaking cultural fields of Transylvania, Banat and Bukovina, “dominated” as well by the same Centre.
If for the Romanian social ensemble the prestige of the German language and culture remains generally unchanged, contrary to the resentfulness produced by the experience of the war, the censorship, which cuts in starting with year 1918, alters radically through the new power circumstances the relationships between a cultural field of the Romanian language, freed from the old barriers related to the previous state limits and interested in imposing a dominant and “majority” “national” culture, and the different German speaking collective entities – fallen abruptly from their position as dominant cultures to the condition of “minorities” – with which it related until the war broke out. With respect to the post-Habsburg cultural heredity (more vigorous than the post-Ottoman-Balkan one), which continues to persist in the local German speaking cultural fields both in their traditional affiliation with the Central European multicultural region and in the effort to preserve its “identity” autonomy, the official cultural politics go as far as to force, in the name of the desideratum of national homogeneity, a change in the meaning of the more and more intense cultural, including institutional transfers (in the educational system, legal system, etc.), from the new “centre” Bucharest towards the multi-linguistic “peripheries” of “Greater” Romania. Under these circumstances, may we consider that starting with 1918 there appeared the premises for the delineation of a new “communication space” of cultural pluralism corresponding to the “social space” produced by that network of economic-social relationships whose construction accompanies the institutional re-setting of the “united” Romanian state? The ample analysis we have in view for the present project can give an answer to such a work hypothesis.
The “frontier” project we propose takes into consideration the registering, deepening, ordering and interrelating by interdisciplinary teams of historians – including of historians of Romanian law and education –, Germanists, specialists in cultural studies of (as much as possible) all the elements which make up the so varied mosaic of the presence of the German language and culture in the territories of the Romanian state after 1918. Our goal is to assemble a complete and at the same time differential image of all the domains in which, in the new political, social and cultural configuration of “Greater” Romania, these elements manifested themselves actively and relevant for the evolutions at that time. Our review will take into consideration not only the cultural realities of the Old Kingdom where, apart from the negative perception of the former German and Austrian occupiers, the German culture still represented an essential factor of Europeanization and modernisation, but also those from the new provinces, with an important German speaking population – itself very differentiated including from a linguistic (dialectal), social and religious point of view. For a more transparent systematisation of the extremely vast material, the investigation will be directed on two main research levels, corresponding to these premises: every identified thematic nucleus will be treated in monographic manner, having in view the time period 1918-1933, according to the evolutions of the social-historical background, – in which the hegemonic ideology of national homogenisation played a considerable role in the wording of the educational and cultural public discourses and policies –, the continuities, developments, all kinds and all meanings of cultural transfers, quantitative and qualitative transformations, individual and collective determinations, the connections within the cultural fields, as well as those which transcend their frontiers.
The project’s first section will start with an imagological research of the representations of the former adversary powers Germany and Austria in the whole Romanian territory after 1918. The consequences of the national propaganda’s offensive, especially that set against the former Habsburg domination, will be examined later by mirroring the statute reserved to the German language and culture in the Romanian secondary school (at the level of syllabus, number of departments, personnel) and university education (with a focus on German studies); a special study will be dedicated to Bukovina, the only region where German had a favourable position through the province’s affiliation with the Austrian “half” of the Habsburg Empire, and where, despite the rapid “Romanisation” of the whole secondary school education, as well as of the University in Chernivtsi was introduced, German persisted as supranational everyday communication language. The Romanian world’s access to the German culture in the third decade of the 20th century will be followed, among others, though the translations of German scientific and fictional literature, through the explicit affiliation of great Romanian intellectuals with the German culture and the massive recourse to the German scientific bibliography in top academic and cultural publications, through data regarding the intense circulation of the Romanian students to universities in Germany and Austria (see the cases of Lucian Blaga, Nae Ionescu, Tudor Vianu, Dan Barbilian, Lucrețiu Pătrășcanu etc.), through the presence of the German repertoire on the theatre and cinema posters, etc. Not in the least, with reference to what happened in Romania after 1933, from a special attention will benefit the manner in which the ideological import functioned, from the extreme right to the extreme left, from the corresponding milieus in Germany and Austria.
Starting from the analysis of the manner in which Romania’s constitutional, legal and institutional background after 1918 was prepared (or not) to deal with the challenge represented by the living together de facto of the Romanian culture – supposedly dominant in an assumed “national” and “unitary” state – with the cultures of the minorities, in this case with those which spoke German, at the beginning of the project’s second section all aspects regarding the regional and zone (rural/urban) spread, as well as the social “preference” of using German language as mother tongue will be catalogued; as relevant for the “habitus” of the German speakers in the time frame we have in view will be considered also their option between the “literary” language (Hochdeutsch) and the numerous local dialectal forms, which will also constitute the object of a special investigation from the linguistic geographical perspective – including a synchronic offcut of the different interferences between the varieties of the German spoken by the minority population and the “surrounding” languages (Romanian, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Yiddish etc.). There will be registered and listed especially the “channels” of maintaining and propagating German within the “cultural fields” of the German speaking minorities: the (Protestant and Catholic) church, the private education (with the used teaching programmes, some of them imported from the German cultural space), the press, the publishing houses, the minorities’ cultural associations and institutions (such as folk and theatre assemblies), scientific societies and magazines, etc., examining the effort of conserving their own cultural “identity” and memory, as well as the opening to “neighbouring” cultural milieus.
A special attention will be given to the specific cultural “production” accomplished between 1918-1933 in German and propagated through the particular circuits of the German speaking cultural fields in Romania. At the level of the individual discourse, the priority investigation trail will be that of identity reflection, on the basis of which there will be examined (including through case studies) typical profiles of a common or particular (Transylvanian Saxon, Banat Swabian etc.) “German” self-consciousness, in or not in connection with the national/nationalistic ideologies and the myths of cultural/race superiority, but also, on the other hand, the identity dilemmas of the German speaking Jews (especially in Bukovina). We will also be looking closely into aspects regarding the “popular” culture, followed by the covering, in the corresponding chapters, of subjects related to folklore (texts, music, traditions and customs, costumes etc.) and its cultivation, as well as to the “high” culture, mainly the literature written and published in German in the regional cultural centres Timișoara, Sibiu, Brașov, Chernivtsi, etc. There will be taken into account the fact that the identity’s stake is associated in these cases also with a certain ideological option: the literature’s value scale with identity message starts from occasional texts, some of them written in dialect – a type of Heimatdichtung which covers all German speaking enclaves – and goes up to the fictional literature which is owed to some authors representative for the provincial, traditional and conservatory bourgeois elites, for which the German language and culture constitutes an isolation mark of the national and local specific. A special attention will be given also to that intellectual group in connection with urban milieus more “open” to the relationship with the German cultural metropolis and close to the avant-gardes, which will opt for German as a reference to a democratic and cosmopolitan culture, integrated in a European circuit. The relationship with the German linguistic and cultural space of the actors on the German speaking cultural fields in Romania has to be studied also on a larger scale than the literary and artistic ones: the circulation of ideas and characters towards and from Germany and Austria implies the persistence of a certain “image” of the Centre in the collective mentality of the German speaking population in Transylvania, Banat, Bukovina, etc., a (positive or negative) attitude towards the recent imperial past, but also a symbolic affiliation – not without political connotation – with the “metropolitan” German culture. A separate study will be dedicated to the ideological and political infiltrations in the name of “Pan-Germanism”, promoted by political groups and state instances in Germany within the minority groups of “ethnic” Germans in Romania.
The responsibility for the study’s two main divisions will be assigned to the group of researchers of “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University for the former, and respectively to the group of researchers from the “Babeş-Bolyai” University for the latter, which does not exclude the possibility that some subjects associated with one of the two divisions are assigned to some researchers from the corresponding group. The communication between the two teams will be permanent, ensured through the two coordinators, but especially through two workshops a year, organized successively in Iaşi and Cluj, in which there will be discussed all problems related to the bibliography and the research particular aspects / rhythms / progress / difficulties.
The first twelve months will be dedicated to documentation and the clarifying of some aspects which require the exploitation of archive and library stocks in our country and abroad (București, Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Chernivtsi, Chișinău, Vienna, Gundelsheim etc.). Every researcher engaged in the project, who will be allocated documentation tasks and specific work in the archives, will report the accomplished activities to the coordinators at the end of each trimester. After the review of this first stage, done during the third workshop, every member of the teams or interdisciplinary formed group will be allocated – on basis of scientific affinity and experience – actual work themes, which implies in the second year the deepening of the allocated field, and in the third year the actual writing of the allocated studies. Also in this period reports will be made to the two coordinators once every three months, while the organised workshops will ensure the communication and complementarity between researchers and researcher groups, including with a view to avoiding any overlapping. The last year will be reserved to successive and mutual revisions of the studies – by member groups of both teams under the supervision of the two coordinators – and the final elaboration of the volumes which will result from this research.
The final workshop will coincide with a conference with international participation on the project’s subject, meant to synthesise and disseminate the research results.
Results and impact
The project will materialize in the publishing of a massive volume with historical-encyclopaedic character, in which there will be published, grouped on thematic chapters, the studies which resulted from the systematic, interdisciplinary and multidimensional exploration of an episode from the Romanian culture’s past, symptomatic for the genealogy of a present in which its belonging and contribution to the European culture constitutes an indisputable certainty.