Chorographies of Memory:
Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work
in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest

A...
Contents
List of Figures.....................................................................................................
List of Figures
Fig. 2.1 Scaffolding on Victoria Street...........................................................55
Fig. ...
Fig. 4.1 10,000 lei, post-communist paper banknote from 1994..................112
Fig. 4.2 1 leu (RON), post-communist pla...
Abstract
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance
Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Buc...
Declaration
No portion of the work referred to in the thesis has been submitted in
support of an application for another d...
Copyright statement
i.

The author of this thesis (including any appendices and/or schedules
to this thesis) owns any copy...
Acknowledgements
My doctoral research was funded by a School of Social Sciences
Studentship, an Overseas Research Student ...
P!dure$, Ioana Popescu, Dorel Rusti, #tefan Sîrbu, C!lin Torsan, George Turliu,
and Ciprian Voicila …and to the memory of ...
CHAPTER 1: Introduction

Opening
In October 2007, during the final stretch of my fieldwork, I attended the
premiere of “Am...
She spent the rest of her life in a working-class block of flats in Bucharest, with
a series of proletarian jobs. Her mono...
of “structural nostalgia” (1991, 1997), where reminiscence patterns draw upon
structured and romanticised ideals of social...
had provoked him to reach beyond the clichés depicted in the play, and instead
of judging the past, or declaring whether c...
interests of certain power structures and operates within particular groups—
from peasant settlements to women’s movements...
(Foucault 1977: 161). It is necessarily transient and contingent (Canefe 2004;
Delich 2004; Neyzi 2004; Todorova 2004), in...
hegemonic notions of cultural heritage (Koonz 1994; Sherman 1994), or
commodify and commercialise memory (Gillis 1994; Nor...
signalled a fundamental shift in the “late-modern” age

5

from viewing

recollections as transparent, objective, and disp...
“obsessions with the past” (Huyssen 2003: 6), accompanied by the “historical
emotion” of nostalgia (Boym 2001: xvi), the “...
discourses in politics, religion, mass media, academia, and the arts. This
designation, however, does not assume a loss of...
memories mobilised in political discourses, commercialised as commodities
and brands, materialised in public monuments and...
reading, shopping, and cooking,” giving them subversive or alternative
meanings (ibid 40).
The everyday has, of course, be...
commonplace features and happenings of local regions, preferring to analyse
ordinary people rather than elite or royal lin...
months between October 1999 and December 2000 when I had a Fulbright
grant to research Romanian ethnographic museums, and ...
interactions with this group (mainly anthropologists who were also writers,
artists, and musicians) became an important pa...
As I explain in Chapters 2 and 3, my investigations of Bucharest’s
urban landscapes and household interiors were influence...
marginal urban spaces highlighted their function as “little disruptions” in the
current social order (Foster 1993: 161). A...
granted. The written statements I received often contained subtler, more
contemplative accounts and reminiscences than ver...
journals8 and museum exhibitions after field expeditions to “exotic” places.9
Although I do not reproduce their blatantly ...
Vicissitudes of Memory
Memory studies cover an enormous field; in anthropology alone, the
concept of remembrance work is m...
How, then, does one go about analysing memory? As Fentress and
Wickham ask (1992: 2), “Do we hunt it with a questionnaire ...
recollection as the act of picturing of images in one’s mind.12 This metaphor
has remained in present-day conceptualisatio...
experiences of memory and the imagination. Using this medium to approach
the affective dimensions of social experience, ra...
attempted to merge a Foucauldian concept of the body as “imprinted by
history” (1977: 148) with a Benjaminian idea of memo...
CONTEXTS:
Post-socialism / Post-communism13

As Gross observes (2000: 11), it is impossible to analyse the
significance of...
point: Romania’s acceptance into the European Union. As my research
spanned the months immediately before, during, and aft...
legacies—the post-socialist period could also just as legitimately be called a
post “pre-socialist” period, or a post “Ott...
you think the transition is over by now?” Several people noted that Romania
seemed to be in a different sort of transition...
and democracy (see Berdahl 2000a; Hahn 2002; Kideckel 2002; Verdery 1999).
As Verdery argues (1996: 16), the “fall” of soc...
country’s

supposed

Eastern/Balkan/communist

move

away

identity,

from
and

a
towards

predominantly
a

more

Western/...
discourses of modernisation. One November day as I walked through
Bucharest’s University Square, I was handed a brochure e...
investors, giving Romanians some hope over the next few years as their
economy skyrocketed to one of the fastest-growing i...
own televised political offensives, which according to many public figures
confirmed that contemporary Romanian society wa...
mobilisations of memory to identify the perpetrators of communist crimes and
seek retribution, or to educate future genera...
This observation reinforces the notion that most discussions of
remembrance

work

are

inevitably

value-laden

activitie...
ways in which it may move between inadvertent and deliberate evocations, and
take on commemorative and non-commemorative f...
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
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Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest
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Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest

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This thesis explores processes of remembrance work in contemporary Bucharest, while considering memory’s relationships to cognitive, discursive, sensory, material, and visual realms. Through writing and film, it draws attention to memory’s social, political, corporeal, and immaterial trajectories. This thesis posits memory as both entity and activity, continually constituted through physical and mental processes, in material objects and spaces of the imagination.
Focusing on the current EU accession-era context, I address how changes in Romania’s global framework intersect with remembrance practices at local, individual levels. By analysing Bucharest residents’ lived experiences, recollections of the past, and anticipations of the future, I seek to unravel complex dynamics of contemporary post-socialist “transition.”
I explore the active, contingent ways that personal memories weave in and out of social and ideological rhetoric, often taking on unexpected, idiosyncratic forms. Rather than viewing the boundaries between individual and collective memory and between official and unofficial commemoration as exclusive barriers, I interpret them as sites for engagement and interaction. I follow memory’s presence through objects, discourses, and spaces, and trace its movements between overtly commemorative and inadvertently memorial realms. My attention to arenas where memory is less obvious or visible— ordinary city landscapes, disregarded personal storage spaces, and commonplace interactions around money and food—sets my thesis apart from literature that disregards remembrance work outside explicitly commemorative contexts.
My film Lumina amintirii (In the Light of Memory) problematises notions that memory is a straightforwardly visual phenomenon, and that it may be represented literally through visual means. The film incorporates creative shooting and editing techniques to reflect fragmentary, haptic, multi-layered experiences of recollection. Transcending film’s representational capacities, I mobilise its affective, evocative modes of operation, to draw viewers into more emotionally intimate and analytically complex understandings of memory.
Central to my work are imaginative experiments I devised to provoke “felt” memories in my collaborators and to enable me to grasp their sensory and corporeal implications. These methodological innovations define my fieldwork, my film-work, and my writing as dynamic, relational processes shaping—rather than merely reflecting—my research.

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Transcript of "Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest"

  1. 1. Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest A thesis submitted to the University of Manchester for the degree of Ph.D. in the Faculty of Humanities 2010 Alyssa R. Grossman School of Social Sciences
  2. 2. Contents List of Figures....................................................................................................3 Abstract..............................................................................................................5 Declaration.........................................................................................................6 Copyright statement..........................................................................................7 Acknowledgements............................................................................................8 Chapter 1: Introduction....................................................................................10 Chapter 2: Urban Landscapes..........................................................................47 Chapter 3: Forgotten Interiors.........................................................................78 Chapter 4: Money Events..............................................................................110 Chapter 5: Affective Tastes...........................................................................144 Chapter 6A: Lumina amintirii (In the Light of Memory) [Film, 40’]............168 Chapter 6B: Memory and the Visual.............................................................169 Chapter 7: Concluding Remarks....................................................................193 Bibliography...................................................................................................203 Filmography...................................................................................................232 Appendix A: Memory Objects.......................................................................233 Appendix B: Memory Meal Invitation (Romanian).......................................239 Appendix B1: Memory Meal Invitation (English).........................................240 Appendix C: Memory Meal Responses.........................................................241 Final word count: 61,041 2
  3. 3. List of Figures Fig. 2.1 Scaffolding on Victoria Street...........................................................55 Fig. 2.2 Skyscraper on Mihalache Boulevard.................................................55 Fig. 2.3 New thermopane in old house............................................................56 Fig. 2.4 Shop window, Luterana Street...........................................................57 Fig. 2.5 Neon advertisements in Victoria Square............................................59 Fig. 2.6 “New home. New habits”..................................................................60 Fig. 2.7 “Living in a block isn’t what it used to be”.......................................60 Fig. 2.8 Armenian Street: “The street where I banged up Dad’s car”….........61 Fig. 2.9 Hyacinths in Dan’s courtyard, Berceni district..............................63 Fig. 2.10 Replacing the cobblestones..............................................................64 Fig. 2.11 National Theatre (1930s).................................................................71 Fig. 2.12 Novotel with reconstructed National Theatre façade.......................71 Fig. 2.13 Hunger Circus, Rahova district........................................................73 Fig. 2.14 Hunger Circus-turned-mall, Vitan district.......................................73 Fig. 3.1 Advertisement in Tabu Magazine………..........................................84 Fig. 3.2 Tania and Marius in their living room..............................................88 Fig. 3.3 Inside the bench/storage space...........................................................89 Fig. 3.4 Tania’s collection of knitting needles............................................92 Fig. 3.5 Zoltán in his basement storage room...........................................95 Fig. 3.6 Chamber of Horrors, Peasant Museum basement..............................99 Fig. 3.7 Marx/Engels/Lenin statue, Peasant Museum courtyard...................102 Fig. 3.8 Busts of Lenin, Chamber of Horrors................................................104 Fig. 3.9 Transporting Lenin from the Chamber of Horrors..........................105 3
  4. 4. Fig. 4.1 10,000 lei, post-communist paper banknote from 1994..................112 Fig. 4.2 1 leu (RON), post-communist plastic banknote from 2005.............112 Fig. 4.3 50 lei, communist banknote from 1966...........................................118 Fig. 4.4 1,000 lei, post-communist paper banknote from 1991....................121 Fig. 4.5 2,000 lei, post-communist plastic banknote from 1999...................122 Fig. 5.1 “Super sensations from 1964. In a bigger bar” billboard.................156 Fig. 5.2 “Surf DERO. The fragrance from the best years” advert................157 The images in this thesis are mine, unless otherwise specified. 4
  5. 5. Abstract Chorographies of Memory: Everyday Sites and Practices of Remembrance Work in Post-socialist, EU Accession-era Bucharest. Alyssa R. Grossman Ph.D. thesis, University of Manchester This thesis explores processes of remembrance work in contemporary Bucharest, while considering memory’s relationships to cognitive, discursive, sensory, material, and visual realms. Through writing and film, it draws attention to memory’s social, political, corporeal, and immaterial trajectories. This thesis posits memory as both entity and activity, continually constituted through physical and mental processes, in material objects and spaces of the imagination. Focusing on the current EU accession-era context, I address how changes in Romania’s global framework intersect with remembrance practices at local, individual levels. By analysing Bucharest residents’ lived experiences, recollections of the past, and anticipations of the future, I seek to unravel complex dynamics of contemporary post-socialist “transition.” I explore the active, contingent ways that personal memories weave in and out of social and ideological rhetoric, often taking on unexpected, idiosyncratic forms. Rather than viewing the boundaries between individual and collective memory and between official and unofficial commemoration as exclusive barriers, I interpret them as sites for engagement and interaction. I follow memory’s presence through objects, discourses, and spaces, and trace its movements between overtly commemorative and inadvertently memorial realms. My attention to arenas where memory is less obvious or visible— ordinary city landscapes, disregarded personal storage spaces, and commonplace interactions around money and food—sets my thesis apart from literature that disregards remembrance work outside explicitly commemorative contexts. My film Lumina amintirii (In the Light of Memory) problematises notions that memory is a straightforwardly visual phenomenon, and that it may be represented literally through visual means. The film incorporates creative shooting and editing techniques to reflect fragmentary, haptic, multi-layered experiences of recollection. Transcending film’s representational capacities, I mobilise its affective, evocative modes of operation, to draw viewers into more emotionally intimate and analytically complex understandings of memory. Central to my work are imaginative experiments I devised to provoke “felt” memories in my collaborators and to enable me to grasp their sensory and corporeal implications. These methodological innovations define my fieldwork, my film-work, and my writing as dynamic, relational processes shaping—rather than merely reflecting—my research. 5
  6. 6. Declaration No portion of the work referred to in the thesis has been submitted in support of an application for another degree or qualification of this or any other university or other institute of learning. 6
  7. 7. Copyright statement i. The author of this thesis (including any appendices and/or schedules to this thesis) owns any copyright in it (the “Copyright”) and she has given the University of Manchester the right to use such Copyright for any administrative, promotional, educational, and/or teaching purposes. ii. Copies of this thesis, either in full or in extracts, may be made only in accordance with the regulations of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester. Details of these regulations may be obtained from the Librarian. This page must form part of any copies made. iii. The ownership of any patents, designs, trade marks and any and all other intellectual property rights except for the Copyright (the “Intellectual Property Rights”) and any reproductions of copyright works, for example graphs and tables (“Reproductions”), which may be described in this thesis, may not be owned by the author and may be owned by third parties. Such Intellectual Property Rights and Reproductions cannot and must not be made available for use without prior written permission of the owner(s) of the relevant Intellectual Property Rights and/or Reproductions. iv. Further information on the conditions under which disclosure, publication and exploitation of this thesis, the Copyright and any Intellectual Property Rights and/or Reproductions described in it may take place is available from the Head of School of Social Sciences (or the Vice-President) and the Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences, for Faculty of Life Sciences, for Faculty of Life Sciences’ candidates. 7
  8. 8. Acknowledgements My doctoral research was funded by a School of Social Sciences Studentship, an Overseas Research Student Award, and a North American Foundation Award from the University of Manchester. During my fieldwork, I received additional financial assistance from the Romanian Cultural Institute in Bucharest. A Europa Fellowship from the New Europe College in Bucharest helped me complete this thesis. I wish to thank my supervisor Sarah Green for her invaluable insights and constant support, and for encouraging my work from the very beginning. Many thanks to Andrew Irving, my co-supervisor, for his useful suggestions and for continually pushing me to grapple with new ideas. Stef Jansen offered constructive research guidance, and filled in as supervisor while Sarah was on sabbatical. Weekly research seminars at Manchester and the New Europe College in Bucharest provided stimulating environments in which to develop and discuss my writing. I appreciate Paul Henley’s and Sue Brook’s expert editorial advice on my film and their steadfast help throughout the filmmaking process. Gary Kildea offered wise counsel and unwavering encouragement as I struggled to find my way through my film. Ileana St!nculescu and Artchil Khetagouri provided much moral and technical support; their documentaries and our conversations were an inspiration. I am especially thankful to Selena Kimball for our many years of artistic and intellectual collaboration, for creatively challenging disciplinary conventions, and for engaging me on so many levels. In Bucharest, Alina Ciob!nel made time when I sought her professional and personal advice, and has been a true friend. My kitchen table discussions with Zoltán Rostá" were always so enjoyable, and taught me much about everything. Ioana Vlasiu, Nicu"or and Fotinica Gliga, Marius and Tania Gomoiu, Cristina Crinteanu, Adrian Vasilescu, Irina B!descu, Elena R!dulescu, Paul Drogeanu, and Ruxandra Catinca R!dulescu offered much kindness and greatly assisted my research. With Eugenia Brenda, Sorina Chiper, C!t!lin D. Constantin, Dan Diojdescu, Diana Georgescu, Domnica Macri, Claudia Popescu, and Lucian Stratulat I shared many thought-provoking conversations. I am extremely grateful to the Fulbright Commission of Bucharest for granting me a fellowship in 1999-2000; this helped set my research in motion. Ioana Iieronim, Mihai Miroiu, Barbara Nelson, and Corina Danaila-Guidea were particularly generous with their resources and time, and have continued to involve me in Fulbright-related activities in Romania. Friendships made at, and through the Museum of the Romanian Peasant enriched my fieldwork in imaginative and inventive ways—thanks to #erban Anghelescu, Ana Birta, Adina Br!deanu, Ioana Daia, Daniela Gherghina, Ruxandra Grigorescu, Gabriel Hanganu, Kazimir Kovács, Cosmin Manolache, Maria Mateoniu, Vintila Mih!ilescu, Roxana Moro"anu, Lila Passima, Monika 8
  9. 9. P!dure$, Ioana Popescu, Dorel Rusti, #tefan Sîrbu, C!lin Torsan, George Turliu, and Ciprian Voicila …and to the memory of Horia Bernea and Irina Nicolau, for cultivating the spaces for these connections to grow. I wish to thank my parents, Mary MacArthur and Richard Grossman, for their love and support, and for copy-editing the final version of my thesis with fine-tooth combs. I am especially grateful to Mark Bingley for seeing me through the ups and downs of all of it, and for cooking all those delicious meals, especially during the final stages of writing. 9
  10. 10. CHAPTER 1: Introduction Opening In October 2007, during the final stretch of my fieldwork, I attended the premiere of “Amalia Takes a Deep Breath,” a one-woman play at a small, independent theatre in Bucharest. The play consisted of monologues by the fictional character Amalia, spanning her life from when the Romanian communist regime was instituted in 1947, through the 1989 Revolution,1 to the contemporary post-socialist “transition” era. It was followed by an open debate entitled “Romanian communism: between living memory and cultural memory.” The play’s references to the past were similar in tone and subject matter to stereotypical discourses of recollection in the local media and other public spheres. Yet the post-performance discussion revealed a more intricate, multifaceted picture of memory and its operations. As I consider below, the performance and debate together provide a framework for many of the issues explored in this thesis. They offer a lens for ethnographically examining how commemorative activities in present-day Bucharest both conform to and challenge broader theoretical classifications. They demonstrate how individual and collective memories, as well as “official” and “unofficial” practices, are often deeply intertwined. Amalia’s story included commonplace narratives about youth, education, work, family, relationships, and death, with her personal experiences positioned against the backdrop of broader and more exceptional social, historical, and political forces. Born into a bourgeois family, Amalia had a carefree childhood until the state nationalised and confiscated her house. 1 There is much debate about whether the events that took place in Romania in December 1989 constituted a spontaneous, popular revolt against Ceau"escu’s communist dictatorship, or a preengineered coup organised by officials from international states. Although the latter theory has strong evidence to confirm it, to call it a “so-called” or “stolen Revolution” (as it is often labelled) fails to acknowledge the very real and courageous participation of many ordinary citizens in these momentous events. While I keep this controversial history in mind, I use the term Revolution (without quotation marks) throughout my thesis. 10
  11. 11. She spent the rest of her life in a working-class block of flats in Bucharest, with a series of proletarian jobs. Her monologues conjured up what it was like to be a young communist Pioneer, to wait in long queues for food, to maintain a household in the midst of controlled shortages of heat, water, and electricity, and to hunger constantly for greater access to the “outside” world. Descriptions of everyday events were coloured by references to politics and propaganda, such as in this ironic comment by Amalia at the age of twenty: Thank you for teaching me what to speak and how to speak—beautiful words such as “division of labour,” “multilaterally developed socialist society,” “agricultural co-operative,” “class struggle,” “monolith,” “five-year plan,” “industrialisation,” […] “three-day queue,” “censorship,” “Chernobyl,” “edible chicken claws,” “Dacia 1300,” “eight square meter luxury studio with toilet and shower,” “evening TV news” – and to forget ugly words such as “passport,” “Cocacola,” “chocolate,” “King,” “psychoanalysis,” “Greek Catholics,” “Mercedes,” “oranges,” “Europe,” “freedom,” “me,” “God” (Nelega 2005: 22-24).2 The play presented post-Revolutionary Romania as an unmanageable ruin: chaotic, impoverished, and desperate, with people struggling to repair the “damage” from 45 years of communism. In the early ‘90s, at the age of 55, Amalia found employment as a janitor at Otopeni airport. While scrubbing the toilets, she observed, “Sometimes it’s hard to take a deep breath, because now that we have liberty, and the borders have opened, lots of foreigners come and go, but shit still smells like shit” (Nelega 2005: 39). The story ended in the early 2000s, with Amalia on the verge of death in a retirement home, babbling incoherently about a past that now seemed to her like a “dream.” Amalia’s narratives of the past resembled those I had encountered time and again during my visits to Romania over the last decade. Such repetitive and recognisable discursive patterns, as Green describes in her own fieldwork on the Greek-Albanian border (2009: 1), may be interpreted as performances of certain stereotypes and ideologies, indexing particular social and political positions. As she notes (ibid 4), they serve as a counterpart to Herzfeld’s notion 2 Some of these references are, in fact, anachronisms, presumably unnoticed by the playwright. Amalia would have been twenty in the early 1960s, which would place this statement long before the Chernobyl disaster, the prevalence of chicken claws in Romanian butcher shops during meat shortages, or the production of the Dacia 1300 line of cars (all commonlyreferenced features of the communist 1980s). Yet the anachronism significantly reveals how individuals’ memories (those of the playwright, in this case) do not always follow “unidirectional movement[s] from past to present to future” (Schwarz 2003: 141), as many institutionalised discourses often attempt to do. 11
  12. 12. of “structural nostalgia” (1991, 1997), where reminiscence patterns draw upon structured and romanticised ideals of social solidarity. The more conventional recitations of cultural memory I encountered in my fieldwork tended to follow similar lines, at times assessing the communist past as a period of stability and security, when the state provided its citizens with education, jobs, and housing, and people bonded together in times of hardship. At other times the past was cast in a moralistic light, pathologised as unhealthy and damaging, judged as an “aberrant” interruption of “normal” community life, its political and social impacts positioned within frameworks of victimisation.3 Yet as Green observes (2009: 14), such predictable, public recitations necessarily co-exist with idiosyncratic, personal recollections. In the debate following the play, the spectators’ remarks confirmed but also contradicted Amalia’s narratives. The commentary was lively, sometimes contentious, and by no means consistent or unified. Particularly noticeable were the rifts between generations, sparked when an older audience member pointed out the irony that Amalia was played by a young actress who undoubtedly shared very few memories with the very character she was supposed to embody. Another spectator asked whether anyone under the age of thirty could have understood the play at all, without having been a “victim” of the recalled events. A student in his early twenties interjected, saying he considered himself a victim of capitalism, not communism. There were audible sniggers of disbelief throughout the room. “Things like censorship may have gone on before,” the young man insisted, “but they still happen now, only in different ways.” Not just the younger generations expressed a need for more nuanced critiques of the past. As one spectator stated, “Some of us suffered from communism. Others benefited from it. Naturally the past will be remembered differently by different people.” One middle aged woman commented how communism should not be viewed as a homogenous historical experience, as Romania’s communist leaders had followed different agendas, and even Ceau"escu’s own policies had been inconsistent over his four decades of rule. As the evening came to a close, an elderly man observed that the discussion 3 The 1950s and the 1980s in particular tend to be categorised as periods of intense political repression and hardship (Kligman 1998; Verdery 1991a, 1996). I often heard about the “three F’s” of communism: frica, frig, !i foame, or “fear, cold, and hunger.” 12
  13. 13. had provoked him to reach beyond the clichés depicted in the play, and instead of judging the past, or declaring whether communism was good or evil, to reflect about more fundamental, existential human experiences such as “life, death, and salvation.” As this conversation indicates, the audience members demonstrated a highly reflexive awareness of the dynamics of remembrance work in Romania’s public sphere. Even the debate’s bifurcated title, “Romanian communism: between living memory and cultural memory,” points to growing local concern not just for discussing a particular past, but also for examining the ways in which this past currently is being discussed. While this audience consisted primarily of urban intellectuals and artistic elites, who undoubtedly had a more heightened consciousness of public memory work than other segments of the population, their contributions brought the evening closer to incorporating the multiple, conflicting, and reflexive remembrance activities I had been encountering in the messy, informal processes of my fieldwork. Dichotomisations of Memory (1): Individual vs. Collective My research seeks to soften two major dichotomisations perpetuated by much of the related literature: individual vs. collective, and official vs. unofficial, forms of memory. Most 19th century investigations of memory, focusing on its biological and psychological properties, neglected the role of social relations in processes of remembrance. When Halbwachs (1992 [1925]) introduced the concept of collective memory in the 1920s, he was one of the first to suggest that remembering was not just an individual, intellectual means of retrieving information, but a socialised activity, consisting of constructions and revisions of the past adhering to the “totality of thoughts” of larger groups or the “predominant” ideas of society. According to Halbwachs, networks such as families, religious orders, social classes, and generational cohorts all utilise shared sets of logic to recall and reproduce the past (Lowenthal 1985). Subsequent research has drawn upon this concept of “collective” or “social” memory to analyse the ways in which remembrance work functions in the 13
  14. 14. interests of certain power structures and operates within particular groups— from peasant settlements to women’s movements to national communities— contributing to constructions of personal and political identity (Fentress and Wickham 1992). This definition of the “collective,” however, seems too simplistic and all-encompassing for contemporary analyses. Even when referring to a specific association of people, a group does not necessarily comprise a fixed or enduring entity. Neither are individuals limited to mutually exclusive collectivities; they may be members of multiple groups simultaneously, or possess marginal, atypical, or dissenting positions within a group. Nor does a “group mentality,” no matter how powerful, automatically eclipse individual agents’ understandings and expressions of their own experiences. It is more effective to identify the influences of the collective as shared or social “frames” of memory (Goffman 1986, cited in Misztal 2003: 91; Gross 2000: 81; Irwin-Zarecka 1994), implying that recollections may be simultaneously individualised and coloured by the “prevailing customs, conventions, and institutions of one’s time and place” (Gross 2000: 83). The majority of participants in the post-performance discussion, for example, could identify with the topics in the play, whether they had lived through these events or learned of them second-hand; these feelings enveloped us all into a provisional yet discrete space of collective memory. At the same time, the varied comments reflected diverse generational, social, cultural, and national experiences, but also different personalities and temperaments. Any commonly held recollections circulating in the theatre undoubtedly carried distinct connotations for each individual. In this thesis, I contest Halbwach’s portrayals of social memory as allpervasive and determinative, and individual memory as subservient to the interests of a larger group. I interpret “social memory” or “collective memory” as societal frameworks that provide certain “structures of recall” giving us “memory cues” (Gross 2000: 133), but do not completely control the contents or operations of these memories. They may enable certain groups to feel a “unity and particularity” of identity (Assmann 1995: 132). But this identity must be seen as plural, involving numerous intersecting and competing systems 14
  15. 15. (Foucault 1977: 161). It is necessarily transient and contingent (Canefe 2004; Delich 2004; Neyzi 2004; Todorova 2004), involving paradoxes and ambiguities, with any broader consensus accepted for the sake of “convenience and solidarity” (MacDougall 1994: 268-9). Such a shared body of knowledge, representations, and commemorations of the past is never settled. Rather, it is continually updated, depending on the shifting values and goals of individual citizens and the state. Dichotomisations of Memory (2): Official vs. Unofficial Just as memories are intricately bound up with social dynamics, they are also often deeply entangled in political and institutionalised contexts. While many discussions of memory tend to treat “official” and “unofficial” remembrance practices as separate realms, the combination of formalised performance and impromptu discussion in the Bucharest theatre pointed to the enmeshed nature of these arenas (also see Jansen 2002: 77). The production was professionally staged and formally organised by a cultural institution, but the spontaneity of the debate gave it a less “scripted” air. Yet even though Amalia’s memories and the spectators’ recollections were grounded in separate discursive registers, it was impossible to cleanly divide the recited monologues from the spontaneous commentaries. By agreeing with certain narratives, and questioning others, the theatre-goers simultaneously engaged with stereotypical, “dominant” accounts, considered each others’ more idiosyncratic, individualised recollections, and generated alternative ones of their own. Taken in its entirety, the evening illustrated the complex ways in which memories filter in and out of ideological rhetoric and personal narrative. In this sense I position my own work against studies of the politics of memorialisation which focus exclusively on formal, public discourses, underlining state and institutionalised roles in inventing and sustaining traditions linked to social and national identities (Hobsbawm and Ranger 1983). Such analyses evaluate how official commemorations demonstrate hierarchies of power, class, race, or gender (Davis 1994; Zerubavel 1994), reinforce 15
  16. 16. hegemonic notions of cultural heritage (Koonz 1994; Sherman 1994), or commodify and commercialise memory (Gillis 1994; Nora 1989; Wieseltier 1993). Others point to “anti-monument” movements that counter institutionalised memories through alternative interventions (Boym 2001; Young 2000), or through the “re-appropriation” of state authorised spaces or landmarks (Barris 2001; Rozentals 2008; Stratford 2001; Verdery 1999). Many such investigations regard institutionalised and state-directed memorialisations as spaces of resistance, with individuals challenging standardised interpretations and attributing new significance to old commemorative forms (Crapanzano 2004; Edkins 2003; Wanner 1998; Werbner 1998). While such approaches may contribute towards broader understandings of the power relations integral to any memorial practice, they tend to perpetuate black-andwhite models of “true” and “false” traditions (Mizstal 2003: 61), or simplify the act of official commemoration as a mere “cheat, something which ruling elites impose on the subaltern classes” (Samuel 1994: 17). Such enquiries also raise key issues connected to ongoing debates about the distinctions between “history” and “memory.” For centuries, both processes were regarded as equivalent and interchangeable routes to “truth.” In the preliteracy age, the oral transmission of memory was the sole means for storing and accessing knowledge about individual identities and cultural traditions (Gross 2000: 1-2). Ancient Greek theorisations of memory (Casey 1987: 14) cast it as a scientific avenue into “empirical” reality (Aristotle), as a secular “faculty of knowing” (Plato). Such positivistic models prevailed in much subsequent research. The bourgeoning presence of documents, archives, and museums in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries secured the positions of memory and history within modernist paradigms of realism and objectivity (Misztal 2003: 42).4 However, the recent fixation with memory in the social sciences and humanities, often referred to as the “memory boom” (Berliner 2005: 197; Boym 2001: 61; Cattell and Climo 2002: 6; Radstone 2000: 8), 4 Notable exceptions to this trend include Walter Benjamin’s and the French surrealists’ understandings of memory, which I will explore in greater detail below. 16
  17. 17. signalled a fundamental shift in the “late-modern” age 5 from viewing recollections as transparent, objective, and dispassionate records of the past, to regarding them as more subjective phenomena (Misztal 2003: 46), unstable and unreliable (Gross 2000: 4). These approaches highlight memory’s “equivocations and ambivalences concerning truth” (Radstone 2000: 7-9), its “contestatory […] and subversive qualities” (Fabian 2007: 77), its lack of critical distance and analytical rigour (LeGoff 1992: xii), its “personal” and “emotional” elements (Archibald 2002: 80), along with its ties to fantasy, subjectivity, and the imagination (Johnson 1991: 76; Pardo 1991: 53). Although I support the ways in which such perspectives embrace the contingencies, indeterminacies, and particularities of the processes of memory, I take issue with their tendency to separate “true” memories from those “manufactured” in the interests of political ideology or national identity. LeGoff, for example (1992: xi), views memory as the “raw material” of history, more “dangerously subject to manipulation” than history because it functions in the realm of the “unconscious.” In his monumental study of symbolic constructions of the French past, Nora (1989: 12) claims that society’s obsessions with archiving has transformed “living” memory, or unspoken and unselfconscious traditions, reflexes, and habits, into a “reconstituted object beneath the gaze of critical history.” In Nora’s eyes, these contrived “sites of memory” are the result of positivist and nationalist reconstructions, detached from reference points in living reality. Such positions rely on extremely restricted definitions of history and memory. On one hand, they simplify the idea of an “historical reality” (Nora 1996: xvii), overlooking evidence that the “historical imagination” incorporates numerous subjective and phenomenological influences more akin to the realms of memory than many academics would care to admit (see critiques by Assmann, in Alloa and Goppelsröder n.d.; Papailias 2005: 5; Samuel 1994: 339; Schwarz 2003: 141). They also tend to describe memory discourses as symptoms of a monolithic “modernity” where increasing instabilities of time and space under the alienating effects of late capitalism generate new 5 Gross (2000: 155) defines this term as referring “roughly to the period since 1950 […] in the West, in which most of the ideals, values, and aspirations of the last three centuries have been exhausted without being transcended.” 17
  18. 18. “obsessions with the past” (Huyssen 2003: 6), accompanied by the “historical emotion” of nostalgia (Boym 2001: xvi), the “effacement” of memory (Connerton 2009: 87), “cultures of forgetting” (Gross 2000: 109), and structural amnesia (Huyssen 2003: 21). These perspectives undervalue the potential for memory (and forgetting) to diverge from nationalist or political agendas, and to be just as strongly influenced by local, generational, popular, linguistic, or individual factors. They additionally underrate the presence of uncalculated (and sometimes even inadvertent) remembrance sites and practices occurring in unofficial, private, or transient spaces. I am concerned with how “telling the past” may be a “highly political” and contested activity (Natzmer 2002: 161), a “site for struggle over meaning” (Hodgkin and Radstone 2003: 5) where people strive to meet certain needs of the present (Cattell and Climo 2002: 16). But polarising the private and the political on a large scale may only wind up preserving structures of power and domination, and neglecting the ways in which people often challenge and transform those relations in everyday ways (Ludtke 1982: 47). As Fabian argues (2007: 96), the “politics of memory does not begin when memories are being used and contested but when presenting memory as collective makes it usable and contestable.” I move away from reproducing the stark dichotomies of history and memory, from viewing modes of remembrance as either dominant or subordinate. My work gravitates towards a more processual and interactive investigation of the dynamic and contingent ways that ordinary people are interpreting, perceiving, remembering, communicating, and questioning elements of their daily lives. Although I subscribe to the “collapsing of personal and public” domains (Hodgkin and Radstone 2003: 8), and view the line between official and unofficial realms as blurred and ambiguous (Ballinger 2003: 21), I still acknowledge distinctions between them. Such boundaries need not be seen as barriers, but rather sites for their engagement and interaction. I use the term “cultural memory” to refer to realms of institutionalised or public remembrance work (Assmann 1995), including both first-hand and indirect experiences (Misztal 2003). These memories materialise primarily in institutions such as libraries, museums, schools, archives, and monuments, and permeate 18
  19. 19. discourses in politics, religion, mass media, academia, and the arts. This designation, however, does not assume a loss of personal agency or a subordination of individual, private recollections to collective, authoritative ones, but rather an overlapping and permeability of these dimensions (Canefe 2004: 78; Fentress and Wickham 1992: ix). In this vein, I employ the phrase “sites of memory” not as Nora (1989) defines “lieux de mémoire,” or formalised spaces of memorial heritage that have replaced “living” memory, but rather as a broad range of locations where official and unofficial forms of remembrance work may occur. I regard the interchangeable terms “communicative memory” (Assmann 1995), “non-commemorative memory,” (Misztal 2003: 69), “oppositional memory” (Gross 2000: 134), and “counter-memory” (Boym 2001; Fabian 2007; Foucault 1977) as distinct from cultural memory. According to Assmann (1995), communicative memories are not always deliberately commemorative; they tend to occur in non-specialised, spontaneous contexts, through jokes or gossip, in waiting rooms, at the dinner table, in passing conversations. In Foucauldian terms (1977: 146), counter-memories challenge the search for origins, teleologies, and fundamental truths about the past. They dispute perceptions of time as an “unbroken continuity that operates beyond the dispersion of forgotten things,” revealing instead the “unstable assemblage of faults, fissures […] accidents, and deviations” that make up people’s lives. They are identifiable through approaches resembling Benjamin’s notion of “historical materialism,” reading the intersections of past and present as dialectical, non-progressive “constellations,” legible only at certain moments, and detectable not through authoritative master-narratives, but by sifting through overlooked cultural forms and devalued fragments of ordinary life (Pensky 2004: 77-83). The Everyday Unremarkable settings and incidental happenings of day-to-day life were key focal points of my fieldwork in Bucharest. I did encounter cultural 19
  20. 20. memories mobilised in political discourses, commercialised as commodities and brands, materialised in public monuments and museum exhibitions, and exploited in literary, artistic, and academic works. I preferred, however, to delve into the less obvious communicative memories residing in casual exchanges, informal narratives, household objects, and unremarkable landscapes outside of official or institutionalised spheres. These remembrances wove in and out of banal conversations that I participated in and overheard; they materialised in the regular paths I traversed throughout the city. Often inadvertently invoked, sometimes only fleetingly acknowledged or recognised as memory, they nonetheless formed a perceptible backdrop to my daily routines. By focusing on ordinary spaces such as city landscapes (Chapters 2 and 6), domestic interiors (Chapter 3), and interactions around commonplace artefacts such as food (Chapter 5) and money (Chapter 4), I investigate realms where the political is inextricable from everyday settings and activities. I regard politics as more than the mere imposition of impersonal superstructures onto people’s personal lives (see Gardiner 2000: 9). My attention towards everyday aspects of remembrance work pursues a “micropolitics” of daily life (Burawoy and Verdery 1999: 14; Koshar 1994: 215), revealing how Bucharest residents are currently negotiating and redefining the structures in which they live. Investigating the relationship between individual experience and larger social forces may show how Foucauldian apparatuses of governance and power operate at ground level, but it can also highlight people’s roles as creative agents taking charge of and influencing such processes (see de Certeau 1984; Gardiner 2000; Mirzoeff 1998). As Gardiner writes (2000: 16), it is the very “‘messiness’ of daily life, its unsystematized and unpredictable quality, that helps it escape the reifying grip of nomotheitic social sciences and technocratic planning.” According to De Certeau (1984: 34), subjects do not unconsciously or passively absorb the habitus of their culture, or “cohere with the constructed, written, and pre-fabricated space through which they move.” On the contrary, they often are highly aware of the “infinitesimal procedures” and “tactics” they can use to transform, invert, and manipulate ordinary activities such as “dwelling, moving about, speaking, 20
  21. 21. reading, shopping, and cooking,” giving them subversive or alternative meanings (ibid 40). The everyday has, of course, been the primary focus of anthropological attention from the discipline’s beginnings. Many contemporary ethnographic accounts, however, tend to regard the everyday as a means to an end, as an avenue for understanding deeper structures, principles, and belief systems. My research challenges such a perspective. I borrow from the work of sociologists such as Benjamin and Simmel, philosophers such as Lefebvre and De Certeau, and artists/ethnographers such as the French surrealists and the British mass observationists, all of whom focus less on such a-temporal generalisations and more on the textures, qualities, and particularities of everyday life itself. Such alternative strategies of research and interpretation have proven more conducive to capturing the sensory, fragmented, and impressionistic qualities of the mundane than most conventional anthropological approaches (Highmore 2002). Though my own practices varied widely, I utilised particular procedures and techniques from the above sources, to inspire my fieldwork processes as well as the written and visual articulations of my findings. Chorography “Chorography” refers to a process of regional mapping (Casey 2004: 261). First coined by Pomponius Mela in 44 C.E., it became known as a narrative genre of human and cultural geography (Glick, et al. 2005: 186). In the 17th century, a group of British scholars revived the practices of chorography, re-establishing it as a short-lived yet significant school of “antiquarian-historical” study (Mendyk 1986: 480). Their works describe not just cities and towns, but also characteristics of the land, its flora and fauna, and its human inhabitants. Their preferred methodology was “perambulation,” wandering around and visiting places (both in person and through documents), gathering impressions of architectural forms, landscape features, artefacts, and historical events, as well as collecting regional anecdotes, poetry, legends, customs, even etymologies of local words (ibid 468). They focused on the 21
  22. 22. commonplace features and happenings of local regions, preferring to analyse ordinary people rather than elite or royal lines of descent (Helgerson 1992, cited in Samuel 1994: 46). Just as important as the physical proportions of landscapes are the ways they are lived in and perceived by their inhabitants. As opposed to charting a topographic site, which by Cartesian, metric dimensions may be interpreted as empty or “vacuous,” a chorography encompasses an inhabited region, where “the body imports its own implaced past into its present experience” (Casey 1987: 194). My thesis similarly endeavours to chart diverse emotional and imagined geographies. As my analyses of Bucharest’s public and private landscapes demonstrate (Chapters 2, 3, and 6), I am concerned with people’s embodied experiences of local realms, and the relationships between place and perceptions of the present, memories of the past, and projections of the future. In my discussions about literal and perceptual constructions of the city (Chapter 2), and interpersonal interactions around money (Chapter 4), I explore the impacts of the passage of time upon space, which other “topographical” studies of the past tend to neglect.6 I also embrace the artistic sensibilities of the early chorographers, employing my own experimental and innovative research methods to access the sensory dimensions of remembrance work (Chapters 3 and 5). Field Methods Although each of my chapters details its own methodologies, I provide here an overview of the theoretical frameworks underlying my varied practices. My doctoral fieldwork occurred during the fifteen months between August 2006 and December 2007, the primary time frame informing the writing in this thesis. My experiences in Romania, however, date back to 1997, when I first travelled there for a month as a tourist. This experience and my subsequent visits over the next decade shaped my own repertoire of memories of the country’s post-Revolution history. Particularly significant were the fifteen 6 For example, see Fabian’s (2007) critique of Zerubavel’s Time Maps (2003). 22
  23. 23. months between October 1999 and December 2000 when I had a Fulbright grant to research Romanian ethnographic museums, and was based at the Museum of the Romanian Peasant in Bucharest. I went back in 2004 and 2005 to make two short ethnographic films as part of my MA at the University of Manchester’s Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology. I also returned to Bucharest after my fieldwork, with a Europa fellowship from the New Europe College, where for six months I attended weekly seminars and continued writing-up my thesis. When I arrived in Bucharest in 2006 for my doctoral fieldwork, I was fluent in Romanian, and enjoyed an extensive network of social and professional contacts, which helped connect me to a wider sphere of individuals and institutions. This personal history greatly facilitated my ability to settle into the daily rhythms and routines of fieldwork. While my perceptions inevitably filtered through my outsider’s perspective, my own memories of Romania’s previous decade amplified my understanding of my collaborators’ recollections, and deepened my appreciation of the complexities of the phenomenon of memory itself. Although I had not experienced Romania under Ceau"escu, my presence there in the late ‘90s and early 2000s gave me a closer acquaintance with people’s descriptions of the communist past, as many people agreed that it was not until 2003 or 2004 that Bucharest began to undergo drastic and more distinctly “post-socialist” transformations. As its literal and symbolic contours continued to rapidly change, I was also faced with the challenges of unlearning what I thought I already knew about the city, and was constantly revising many of my expectations about living there. Because of my previous experience collaborating with the Museum of the Romanian Peasant, I took as my fieldwork “base” one particular office at this museum, shared by about a dozen staff members in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. This setting was a hub of social, literary, artistic, and anthropological activity, with food, drink, and music often stemming from the big, round table in the middle of the room. Everyone divided their time between the office’s three computers; nobody seemed to have a fixed schedule; outsiders were constantly stopping by to chat. While the bulk of my present research does not connect to the museum’s official policies or practices, having such regular and close 23
  24. 24. interactions with this group (mainly anthropologists who were also writers, artists, and musicians) became an important part of my programme, helping me to meet other Bucharest residents of all ages from a wide array of professional backgrounds. Other people I had known over the years, such as my former landlady and her relatives, parents of friends, and colleagues’ acquaintances, expanded my contacts beyond predominantly intellectual spheres. Rather than targeting specific groups or categories of people to observe or follow, I let my daily activities and personal connections drive my fieldwork. As I describe in Chapter 6, for example, my decision to film in Ci"migiu Gardens was inspired by the fact that I lived just a few minutes away from the park. This proximity had led me to consider it a familiar extension of my own living space, with the park taking an affective place in my own repertoire of memories about the city. As with studies of everyday life, researching the topic of memory requires a departure from traditional fieldwork practices. Many of my activities involved a material and corporeal engagement with field sites and collaborators going beyond the scope of participant observation. In order to supplement my intellectual understandings of a past that I had not experienced, I had to facilitate my own visceral and emotional recollections “by proxy,” or “knowing through someone else’s accounts” (Casey 1987: 81). I improvised certain experiments, actively provoking my own and other people’s memorial capacities using sensory stimuli such as food (the “memory meal,” described in Chapter 5), material artefacts (Chapters 3 and 4), and interactions with my surrounding landscapes (Chapters 2 and 6). These activities led me to treat such objects and places not as records or reminders of the past, but as “inducers of reminiscence” (Casey 1987: 110), to set further processes of recollection in motion. Exploring remembrance work through filmmaking additionally gave me access to ideas and emotions (as well as methods for communicating them) that I otherwise would not have encountered. As my own memory was simultaneously triggered through these activities, I gained a more embodied knowledge of my collaborators’ recollections, which enhanced my empathic understanding of the objects and narratives that were meaningful to them. 24
  25. 25. As I explain in Chapters 2 and 3, my investigations of Bucharest’s urban landscapes and household interiors were influenced by the surrealist custom of flânerie, which could be interpreted as a specifically urban version of the “perambulations” of the British chorographers. The French surrealists considered their home city of Paris a “complex, unstable organism” with marvellous and banal qualities, a “mysterious, unsettling, and intriguing place” to explore as flâneurs (Walker 2002: 114). They often roamed its neglected corners, searching for connections between “architectural form, psychic charge, and social mythology” (Foster 1993: 170). Benjamin (1999) was also an advocate for using flânerie to interpret the historical and psychological significance of city streets, shopping arcades, and interiors of dwelling spaces (Rice 2004: 278). As flâneurs typically engage in the deliberate act of undirected wandering, absorbing the sights, sounds, and smells of “metropolitan modernity, with its myriad cross-cutting interactions, its momentary shocks, and its fleeting impressions” (Frisby 1984: 100), it is logical to liken such behaviour to that of an anthropologist in the field. As Frisby notes (ibid 97), the flâneur’s practices of “reading, recording, extracting, ordering, reconstituting, deciphering and the like” are comparable to ethnographic activities. While my own adoption of flânerie involved a higher level of emotional involvement than the term customarily implies, my explorations of Bucharest similarly veered towards its disregarded, undervalued spaces as I scoured the “cultural detritus” of the city (Foster 1993: 159) for “wish images” (Benjamin 1999), social histories, and communicative memories. Rather than regarding such a practice as a form of “salvage ethnography,” or part of an anthropological, imperialistic longing to hoard and dissect decontextualised fragments of “disappearing” objects, memories, and cultural traditions, I maintain that piecing together such traces of the past may also be a holistic, constructive process of interpretation. The surrealists themselves were less concerned with salvaging society’s ruins than with awakening a “revolutionary desire” to recover and reclaim what capitalist culture had deemed oldfashioned, irrelevant, or useless (Foster 1993: 165). Valuing such trivial phenomena as flea market trinkets, outmoded architectural structures, and 25
  26. 26. marginal urban spaces highlighted their function as “little disruptions” in the current social order (Foster 1993: 161). As Benjamin observed (1999: 205), gathering these remains and reconstructing them through new, creative forms may contribute to deeper understandings of the “epoch, the landscape, the industry, and the owner” from which they have come. My fieldwork practices also drew upon certain information-gathering techniques of the mass observation movement, a British sociological association formed in the 1930s. This movement’s founders—an anthropologist, a journalist, and a poet—employed paid and amateur researchers alike to collaborate with the “man in the street” in order to compile information about everyday habits and social behaviours (Madge and Harrison 1939: 10). Combining artistic and scientific sensibilities, they used experimental methods of data collection they called “continuous observation” (echoing the surrealists’ “automatic writing” techniques), and kept diaries of “dominant images” from day-to-day life, such as gestures, symbols, and daydreams. In addition to my anthropological field notes, I kept mass observationstyle personal diaries, recording impressionistic descriptions of people, images, thoughts, and experiences. I also kept collections of news clippings, photographs, copies of letters I had written from the field, and random scraps that had accumulated in my pockets at the end of each day. My fieldwork extended beyond more conventional activities of semistructured interviews and participant observation to encompass seemingly trivial or inconsequential situations, such as waiting for the bus, buying stamps at the post office, listening to the radio, or walking through the park. This approach led to the unsettling but curious feeling that I was constantly doing fieldwork at every moment, yet at the same time never really “doing fieldwork.” I remained open to memories wherever and whenever they might surface, rather than anticipating them in particular contexts. Whenever I organised activities to provoke people’s memories and discussions about the past, I asked my interlocutors to write brief statements reflecting on these events (see Appendices A and C). This practice evoked the mass observationist penchant for using questionnaires and written self-evaluations to stimulate people to reflexively articulate elements of their lives they normally took for 26
  27. 27. granted. The written statements I received often contained subtler, more contemplative accounts and reminiscences than verbal elicitations alone. “Imageric” Writing Depicting the everyday through writing “in a way that doesn’t destroy it” (Highmore 2002: 39) is no easy task, particularly when one is situated within traditional academic paradigms that privilege and reward detached, jargon-filled analyses. In the wake of the “writing culture” debates from the ‘80s and ‘90s, anthropologists concerned with producing engaging and innovative texts still struggle to find alternative models that nonetheless fulfil disciplinary requirements and conventions. Stewart offers an inspiring example of “narrativizing a local cultural real” (1996: 3) in her ethnography of an Appalachian coal-mining region. Using ethnopoetic notation, narrative interruptions, and lyrical descriptions, she constructs a written account that serves as an “allegory of the cultural processes it is trying to re-present” (ibid 7). DeSilvey (2007: 404) writes about processes of recollection using associative leaps and poetic descriptions, what she calls “writing through the grain of things.” Similarly, Pesmen’s ethnography of the Russian “soul” (2000a: 16) incorporates textual layering, evocative language, and shifts in narrative direction as alternatives to typically Western academic tactics of calculation and precision, echoing the transcendental, elusive, contradictory, and surrealistic qualities of her subject matter. The surrealists themselves were notorious for appropriating scientific discourses for their own ends in their writing, paintings, and films (Kelly 2007). Their subversive manipulations of ethnographic and documentary modes of realism aimed to “shake up settled ways of thinking” (Breton 1969 [1930]: 152) by simultaneously utilising and destabilising claims to academic and scientific authority.7 They had a particularly charged relationship with the discipline of anthropology, producing their own controversial versions of ethnographic 7 See Bate (2004); Cardinal (1986); Kelly (2007); Stoller (1992); Walker (2002); and Williams (1981) for discussions of the surrealists’ subversions of scientific paradigms. 27
  28. 28. journals8 and museum exhibitions after field expeditions to “exotic” places.9 Although I do not reproduce their blatantly “audacious”10 antics in my own texts, their playful and irreverent questioning of conventional representations of reality has influenced my research, informing the spirit with which I approached my fieldwork, film-work and the writing-up process. The actual writing in my thesis does not directly incorporate the radical games of the surrealists, or even the more subtle experimentations with language found in the work of Stewart, DeSilvey, and Pesmen. It rather seeks to emulate the early British chorographers’ vivid and expressive prose, gravitating towards a cultivation of language’s “imageric and sensate” qualities (Taussig 1992: 8). Following Benjamin, I employ language to engage and transcend the intellect, conjuring up not only ideas, but also mental and figurative pictures (Weigel 1996: 148). Through such evocative language, I wish to “[hail] the body of the reader” (Farquhar 2002: 290) to empathically relate to the material in ways that my own body was “hailed” during my fieldwork. I have endeavoured to develop a language of ekphrasis, using the “thought-images” of my prose not only to provoke the vivid, sensory experiences of fieldwork, but also to connect to the visual and corporeal “bodyspaces” of recollection. I combine storytelling techniques with analytical processes in order to construct my arguments and assemble the contextualising fabric of my thesis. As Jackson argues (2002), building upon the ideas of Arendt and Benjamin, stories often serve as a form of social critique, fusing external and internal worlds as well as private and public narratives, reshaping the past as they are reinvented and retold. I consider such alternative approaches to academic writing conducive to generating imaginative, sensory, and affective insights into the processes and products of my ethnographic investigations. They also seem especially appropriate tactics when dealing with the subject of memory. 8 For example, Documents (edited by the surrealist/anthropologist Michel Leiris), and Minotaure. 9 See Mileaf (2001) for descriptions of two surrealist “counter-colonial” exhibitions in Paris, which criticised anthropological practices by ironically juxtaposing and comparing “tribal” and “European” objects. 10 “Audacity, audacity, and still more audacity!” was Andre Breton’s motto (Rosemont 1978: 122). 28
  29. 29. Vicissitudes of Memory Memory studies cover an enormous field; in anthropology alone, the concept of remembrance work is mobilised in multiple and often contradictory ways.11 As Fabian notes, memory is an “omnivorous, insatiable concept” (2007: 139) so ubiquitous, it seems impossible to pin down. In the face of such semantic elusiveness and ambiguity, I find it more interesting and productive to explore what memory does, rather than determine what it is. I investigate how memories actively move between places, people, and artefacts, rather than studying their existence as passive, stored impressions (Casey 1987: 272). Although memories themselves have no palpable existence, their presence tends to involve the bodily senses and provoke visceral, emotional responses (ibid 310; Misztal 2003: 16). They are often realised in discourse, both in spoken language and in written texts (Casey 1987: 116), but they may also manifest in physical gestures, activities, and rituals; in inanimate objects, edifices, and landscapes; or in the detritus of material ruins and remains. While Teski and Climo maintain that memory is a “territory of ethnographic investigation that lies beyond space and time” (1995: 1), I would argue that memory lies at the heart of space and time. Casey notes that there are few occasions in which we are not “steeped in memory” (1987: ix); yet at particular places and at certain moments, the past comes more sharply into relief against the present (Benjamin 1999: 462). Remembrance work often escalates in the extended aftermath of crisis or social instability, or as a reaction to spatial and temporal dislocation (Cattell and Climo 2002; Connerton 2009; Edkins 2003; Huyssen 2003). But despite its situated relationship to time, space, and materiality, memory still remains an invisible product of the imagination (Fentress and Wickham 1992; Gourgouris 2002: 324). 11 Berliner aptly observes (2005) that anthropological literature ought to employ more precise, responsible, and “matured” uses of the notion of memory. 29
  30. 30. How, then, does one go about analysing memory? As Fentress and Wickham ask (1992: 2), “Do we hunt it with a questionnaire or are we supposed to use a butterfly net?” Its very presence paradoxically implies an absence of what is being recalled. Different individuals often possess very different recollections of the same past. Some memories might seem fixed and clear, while others have vague and hazy overtones; yet they all inevitably undergo revisions and transformations over time. Memories may be deliberately summoned, or they may unexpectedly surface, triggered by particular odours or tastes or sounds. People, places, and situations are conjured up in fleeting and fragmented mental constellations. Even if the proper equipment did exist, and memories could somehow be captured, how would an anthropologist manage to evaluate something so invisible, immaterial, and intangible? As Pesmen argues, the Russian concept of dusha or soul (2000a: 9) both “is and is not a thing.” I propose that memory has similar propensities, though it will never serve as a substitute for a material object itself. It may manifest in physical entities, but it is also a “shifting focus of beliefs, practices, discourses,” a way of “being in the world” (ibid 9). My thesis attempts to account for such alternating and inconsistent qualities and behaviours: intertwining substance and process, the objectified and the imagined, the aesthetic and the ideological, the poetic and the political. Observing its relationships to visual, material, and sensory realms provides a means to locate and analyse the phenomenon of memory, and particularly to investigate the (often overlooked) remembrance work occurring within everyday, less explicitly commemorative contexts. Memory and Visuality The relationship between memory and the visual is far from straightforward. The ancient Greek concept of “ars memoria,” or the art of memory, originally attributed to the poet Simonides in 500 BCE, defines 30
  31. 31. recollection as the act of picturing of images in one’s mind.12 This metaphor has remained in present-day conceptualisations of remembering. The popular notion of “flash-bulb” memories as photographs capturing frozen moments in time is reinforced by frequent media usage of images to evoke and “re-enact” episodes from the historical past. Particularly in the current technological era, when computerised and electronic images expose us to visual phenomena we might not otherwise encounter, our memories are increasingly “supplemented, shaped, structured, and recomposed” by such imagery (Cooke, et al. 1992: 23). Nora has observed (cited in Gillis 1994: 15) that modern memory “relies entirely on the materiality of the trace, the immediacy of the recording, the visibility of the image.” Even as recently as the 1990s, LeGoff (1992: 89) insisted that imagistic technologies have “revolutionised” memory, giving it a “precision,” a “truth,” and an ability to “preserve time” like never before. Contemporary visual theorists have problematised such assumptions on several grounds, which I discuss in Chapter 6. In my film, Lumina amintirii (In the Light of Memory), my efforts to visually address memory through motion and time conform to a Bergsonian “non-archival” understanding of memory (Burton 2008) as a “moving continuity” of simultaneous permanence and change, as opposed to a static essence lodged in matter (Guerlac 2006: 161). For Bergson, the past manifests in the present through bodily movements and actions, but its visual representations exist only in the imagination (ibid 125). My decision to incorporate film as an analytical instrument and interpretive medium in my thesis similarly draws less upon film’s powers of representation and more upon its abilities to transcend its own visual properties and operate in emotional, sensory, evocative realms (Crawford 1992; MacDougall 1994; Schneider and Wright 2006). In Chapter 6, I build upon arguments that the eye is a conduit for the rest of the body, and that mimesis is not just a visual experience but a physical one as well. I suggest that the camera’s mechanical “eye” can transcend sight and sound to offer a uniquely “tactile and habitual” consciousness, not only of the external world (Taussig 1992: 11), but also of the internal, visceral 12 Casey (1987); Fentress and Wickham (1992); LeGoff (1992: 66); Misztal (2003: 30); Weigel (1996: 148); Yates (1966). 31
  32. 32. experiences of memory and the imagination. Using this medium to approach the affective dimensions of social experience, rather than considering it a mere “pictorial” means of illustrating ethnographic information (see Ruby 2000), has led me to introduce new kinds of knowledge practices into my research. Memory and Sensoriality Investigating memory’s sensory properties is an integral aspect of my thesis. Memories make us feel as well as think (Watson 1994: 8), provoking a synaesthesia of sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound (Casey 1987: 31). Fentress and Wickham (1992: 47) divide memory into two categories: “semantic” and “episodic.” While semantic memory is theoretical and abstract, recalling its object through symbols and words, independent of personal experience, episodic memory is more subjective and concrete, recognising its object through movements, images, and sounds. According to these authors, episodic recollection, which is personal, sensory, and connected to the body, underlies all other forms of memory; it is an active and dynamic force, rather than a passive storage system or a repository of information. Connerton argues that “personal,” “cognitive,” and “habit” memories similarly may become “sedimented” in individuals and communities through bodily practices and rituals (1989: 72). Table manners, facial expressions, and talking with one’s hands are all examples of embodied cultural attitudes and behaviours that convey and sustain memories through physical means by drawing upon a “currency” of remembered gestures (ibid 3). This concept brings to mind Bourdieu’s notion of habitus, or culturally internalised and “embodied dispositions of social order… progressively inscribed in people’s minds” (1984: 471). As habitus operates “below the level of consciousness and language” (ibid 466), I found myself accordingly searching outside the realms of discourse and narrative in order to locate, identify, and analyse remembrance practices. By investigating the interface between the physical world of ordinary objects, interior spaces, exterior landscapes, and everyday behaviours, demeanours, and performances, I have 32
  33. 33. attempted to merge a Foucauldian concept of the body as “imprinted by history” (1977: 148) with a Benjaminian idea of memory as tangible “bodyspace” (Weigel 1996: 153). Rather than interpreting “habit” memories as direct expressions of a larger community’s “master-narratives” (Connerton 1989: 70), or Bergsonian “habitual” memories as consisting merely of passive, automatic motor mechanisms (Gross 2000: 42), I examine the ways in which commemorative practices, discourses, sites, and objects are constantly produced and creatively revised, taking on unexpected, idiosyncratic forms. Such a perspective attributes more innovative and unstable capacities to memory than both Connerton and Bergson imply. Instead of reducing the act of remembering to a mere “cerebral process,” a “mental operation” (Halbwachs 1992 [1925], cited in Gross 2000: 82), or even a social, political, or historical construct, I explore its embodied, cognitive qualities, and how these sensory and social elements may or may not interrelate. In a phenomenological line of inquiry, remembering operates as a fundamental form of existing, a sensing of physical movement and space, a Heideggerian being-in-the-world (Casey 1987: 259). If we accept the proposition that physical and corporeal modes of perception precede mental and intellectual ones (Casey 1987; MacDougall 2006), then the body becomes of “centralmost concern in any adequate assessment” of memory (Casey 1987: 147). In seeking to acknowledge these embodied experiences of memory, I also wish to move beyond a phenomenological approach by tracing the ways in which visceral qualities of recollection play themselves out through personal associations, social relationships, and historical and political configurations. By looking at communicative memories within specific contexts, and at a particular period of time, I hope to add my own insights into the corporeal and cognitive capacities of memory, and contribute to discussions about people’s lived experiences, perceptions of the past, and expectations of the future during Bucharest’s current moment of post-socialist “transition.” 33
  34. 34. CONTEXTS: Post-socialism / Post-communism13 As Gross observes (2000: 11), it is impossible to analyse the significance of memory as an abstract concept; its full meaning is always dependent upon the “what” that is remembered. It was not my original intention to confine my research solely to memories of Romania’s communist period; in fact, I deliberately remained open to other personal and political recollections. Yet in a country that until two decades ago endured over 40 years of communist-authoritarian regimes, it is not surprising that much of the current remembrance work is heavily weighted towards this element of the past. As the material traces and ideological remains of communism wear away, the era becomes more distant in people’s minds (Crowley and Reid 2000: 18), inspiring the desire to prevent this experience from passing into oblivion. In Romania’s current climate, when new “European” regulations are coming into effect and impacting people’s daily lives, the activation and deployment of memory (including its offshoots of nostalgia, forgetting, and projections of the future), take on additional socio-cultural meanings and forms. Provisionally demarcating this temporal terrain as “post-communism” may serve as an effective tool for examining how such large-scale events are played out in small-scale, on-the-ground ways. As one friend noted to me after I returned from the field, Romanians tend to use December 1989 as a reference point, distinguishing the “communist” and “post-communist” eras, and dividing historical time into periods “before” and “after” the Revolution. The fact that this turning point is lodged in the minds of those who lived through it and of those who now live in its wake points to the significant and enduring impacts of these processes on people’s everyday lives. On January 1, 2007, I witnessed another key turning 13 The period between 1947 and 1989 in Romania is often categorised as “socialist” in Western academic texts, and “communist” in local popular and academic discourses. After coming into power in 1965, Ceau"escu distanced his own policies from broader Soviet agendas, developing his own arbitrary, authoritarian, quasi-Marxist style of rule. Because this era is described as both “socialist” and “communist,” I use the terms loosely and interchangeably. However, I favour the term “socialist” when engaging with broader theoretical discussions, and “communist” when referring to Romanians’ particular evaluations of their own past. 34
  35. 35. point: Romania’s acceptance into the European Union. As my research spanned the months immediately before, during, and after this occasion, I was able to gauge how this broader cultural moment served as a conceptual springboard towards anticipations of change in the country’s future, again seen against the backdrop of this “before” and “after” history. With hindsight, the two decades following the 1989 Revolution may be conceptualised as a discrete phase of post-socialist, pre-EU flux marked by distinct political, cultural, economic, social, and material transformations. As was the case in many other Eastern European countries, postrevolutionary Romania was characterised by a rapid collapse of certain social and economic institutions and a withdrawal of particular state surveillance mechanisms (Humphrey and Mandel 2002: 3). Yet some scholars have critiqued the sweeping label “post-socialist” for its connotations that the socialist or post-socialist periods could be uniform across national boundaries or constant over time (Berdahl 2000a: 3). Others have rejected the category altogether, claiming it describes societies as what they are not, rather than as what they actually are (Kideckel 2002: 115). Sampson (2002: 298) has suggested the phrase “post post-socialism” to express the point when the “shock of the new” has worn off, and people have begun adapting to largescale political and cultural changes, such as the appearance of technocratic and cultural elites, or the integration of communities into new global frameworks. However, there is still a significant body of current literature that continues to use the term “post-socialism,” with the understanding that the broad transformations in social institutions, political organisation, and systems of meaning may play out in multiple and contradictory ways, and that the word itself may even develop other implications over time. As Verdery argues (Hann et al. 2002: 16), preserving the concept within academia may engender new critical perspectives similar to those emerging in post-colonial studies, such as turning people’s attention towards how socialism helped shape certain images of the West. By describing Romania as “post-socialist,” I do not wish to reduce its current identity to one that is simply trying to “shake off” the legacy of its former political regime. Contemporary Romania is the product of numerous 35
  36. 36. legacies—the post-socialist period could also just as legitimately be called a post “pre-socialist” period, or a post “Ottoman” period, and so on, back into ancient history. In my own experience, the post-socialism of twelve years ago when I first visited Romania was distinct from the post-socialism during my Fulbright grant two years later, which was radically different from the various post-socialisms of my subsequent visits between 2003 and 2009. While I have reservations about the term, I nevertheless view it as a critical marker of Romania’s contemporary social and political configurations that are deeply connected to its current productions of memory. It may be an artificial construct that does not capture the nuances of people’s experiences across time and space, but I consider it an academically justifiable one. Socialist and communist systems have existed in both ideology and practice; they have had very real impacts upon individuals and communities; and they have not been entirely eradicated or replaced (Hann, et al. 2002: 12). I have deliberately qualified this term with the supplementary words “EU accession-era” in my title. Situating this particular moment of postsocialism within the period of Romania’s accession into the European Union highlights the role that new, evolving dynamics play in eliciting and shaping people’s memories, and calls attention to future realms of possibility, rather than using the past as the sole reference point. It also situates the current phase of post-socialism within a concrete, historical context, encouraging more precise definitions of the related concept of “transition.” “Transition” I wish to avoid interpreting Romania’s “transition” as an undifferentiated, twenty-year block of time following the 1989 Revolution. Over the course of my fieldwork, I noticed a marked change in people’s assessments about the state of Romania’s supposed transition. In 2006, when I explained to people that I was researching constructions of memory in the contemporary period of transition, nobody questioned my use of this phrase. In 2007, many people began to respond with comments such as, “Really, don’t 36
  37. 37. you think the transition is over by now?” Several people noted that Romania seemed to be in a different sort of transition from before, one that was more related to EU accession than to the end of Ceau"escu’s regime. Were such perceptual shifts triggered by Romania’s actual entry into the EU, or by the accumulation of many smaller changes over the last two decades? Did people’s different responses to my research explanation over time provide evidence of the transition’s transition? While in theory it is feasible to discuss the implications of a cultural or historical revolution, in practice it is impossible to isolate discrete social processes, or delineate concrete boundaries around a particular era. Such frames become arbitrary, artificial forces having little to do with people’s dayto-day experiences. Lampland notes (2000: 210) that “drawing a sharp line between socialism and the post-socialist period violates the complex flow of memory, continuity, family, politics, and culture in which people live their lives”; the same could be said for the shift between the late post-socialist and EU-membership eras in Romania. At the same time, the concept of transition still translates into palpable feelings and experiences that are recognised by those who are living in its midst. As Pelkmans observes (2003: 121), “transition ideology” has been so ingrained in contemporary post-socialist discourses, ideals, and behaviours that people’s own invocations of transition sometimes belie existing evidence that little in their lives has actually changed. The idea of transition, he argues, must therefore be analysed as the constantly reconfigured space existing between real and imagined processes of change (ibid 132). Transitology theorists have tended to evaluate the shifts from socialist to capitalist systems as evolutionary, teleological progressions. 14 Many anthropologists have warned against interpreting the recent transformations in Eastern Europe as the inevitable collapse of monolithic, totalitarian models leading to a “free” neo-liberal future, or the “magic” solutions of development 14 The Romanian sociologist C!t!lin Zamfir (2004: 18) distinguishes such upheavals from “normal” processes of social change, defining Romania’s current transition as the deliberate act of “returning” to a condition that had been “interrupted by the communist experiment.” The American political scientist Michael Mandelbaum (1996: 9) describes transition as a “westward” process, describing the free market as a “natural” development that springs from “what is basic, almost biological, human nature.” 37
  38. 38. and democracy (see Berdahl 2000a; Hahn 2002; Kideckel 2002; Verdery 1999). As Verdery argues (1996: 16), the “fall” of socialist regimes was less due to inherent deficiencies in their organisation, and more about the dynamics of their historical encounters with a particular type of capitalism. Though the new market economy has benefited certain classes, it also has brought poverty and exclusion to others (ibid 16). As people are faced with incorporating postsocialist reforms into their lives, evidence of preserving or returning to “old” socialist practices should be recognised as deliberate and strategic negotiations of the present-day context, rather than as chaotic or confused inabilities to let go of an outdated past (see Burawoy and Verdery 1999; Creed 1999; Dunn 1999; Hann 2002; Humphrey 2002). In this vein, I analyse Romania’s “transitions” as less connected to the abrupt end of large-scale structures and institutions, and more about smallscale “evolutions, hybrid societies, [and] adaptations” (Verdery 1999: 1) within the “incremental acts” of daily life occurring among individuals and local communities (Hann 2002: xi; Lampland 2000: 209; Humphrey and Mandel 2002: 1; Watson 1994: 4). Such a perspective allows for alternative interpretations of the operations of time, forsaking attention to the “high points” in historical development in favour of the “actual intensities and creations of life” (Foucault 1977: 161). Transition is a ubiquitous process existing at every moment in every society, and only “after the fact” can we begin to examine what exactly has been transitioned from and to. Yet even when using hindsight to reconstruct what has already happened, refusing a “certainty of absolutes” about historical development challenges the dangerous assumption that anyone can be sovereign over the past (Foucault 1977: 153), thereby opening up the possibility for alternative power dynamics and unexpected patterns to emerge in the future. The EU Accession-era Romania officially became the 26th member state of the European Union on January 1, 2007, an event widely touted as a crucial step in the 38
  39. 39. country’s supposed Eastern/Balkan/communist move away identity, from and a towards predominantly a more Western/European/capitalist one. The accession “event” in and of itself served as an impetus for widespread reflexive evaluations of Romania’s current status in the world, a kind of “commemoration of the present” which generated a ripple-effect of reflections about the past, and both hopeful and cynical speculations about the future. Rather than being an overnight transformation, however, it has consisted of an ongoing, subtle set of shifts in mentality and incremental day-to-day reforms. With the twentieth anniversary of the Revolution in December 2009, evocations of the past became increasingly commonplace, routine, and sometimes even obligatory in certain contexts. Against these broader backdrops, I was curious how such changes in Romania’s global framework intersected with remembrance practices at local, individual levels. In the months leading up to the accession, debates in everyday conversations and in the media drew upon people’s memories of recent history, and postulated about what EU membership might mean. For example, many of my friends worried that urban open-air markets would be forced to close for “sanitary” reasons, or that peasants would be prohibited from slaughtering their pigs the “traditional” way with a knife, and be required to use more “modern” and “humane” methods such as lethal injection. While some people expressed reservations about losing their “cultural identity” and local “customs” to a larger, anonymous Europe, most were enthusiastic about the prospect of integration, as they hoped it would allow them to leave behind difficult times and attain superior standards of living coupled with a higher international status. The prospect of EU membership also stimulated public dialogue (locally and internationally) about Romania’s need to “reform” its justice system, its public administration, and its broader “culture of corruption.” People often attributed bureaucratic inefficiency, incompetency, and dishonesty to the “communist illness,” advocating a return to the moral standards of Romania’s pre-war, “properly European” heritage. In the autumn of 2006, I came across a fair bit of political propaganda on EU membership that overtly drew upon nationalist sentiments and 39
  40. 40. discourses of modernisation. One November day as I walked through Bucharest’s University Square, I was handed a brochure entitled, “Romania in Europe,” featuring a message from Prime Minister C!lin Popescu-T!riceanu. His text compared the upcoming EU integration of 2007 to the unification of Greater Romania in 1918, 15 describing this event as the country’s “first modernisation,” when Romania regained its “national dignity,” and EU accession as a “second modernisation,” another “fundamental national project” (Popescu-T!riceanu 2007). The Prime Minister urged Romanians to start thinking and behaving as “European citizens,” and promised that there would be a “rapid increase” in local standards of well-being (ibid). Another leaflet explained that membership would provide billions of Euros in funding opportunities, and grant Romanians the same rights as other EU citizens for travelling and residency within the member states (Romanian Foundation for the Promotion of Community Development 2006). “To be European,” it stated, “does not mean the uniformisation of customs and culture, but rather to believe that what unites the European people is more important than what divides them” (ibid). Considerable rifts flared up, however, during the period immediately prior to accession, particularly among Romanian politicians. While it was widely acknowledged that most current government officials were either excommunists themselves, 16 or had close ties to the former nomenclature or secret police, Tr!ian B!sescu’s election to the Presidency in 2004 represented a symbolic break from such a legacy. Many people regarded B!sescu’s background as a Merchant Navy captain as a confirmation of his personal and political distance from the communist regime (though this of course is debatable), and they were drawn to his charismatic, down-to-earth personality. He was also the first post-communist leader to open up the country to foreign 15 At the end of WWI, the territories of Transylvania, Bukovina, and Bessarabia were annexed to the Romanian Old Kingdom (Wallachia and Moldavia). This unified region was referred to as “Greater Romania” until 1940, when some of these territories were lost to the Soviet Union, Hungary, and Bulgaria. Romanian nationalists often evoke this inter-war period as a glorious era when the country possessed its “rightful” dimensions. 16 The National Democratic Salvation Front, headed by Ion Iliescu, was the first party to take a major leadership role after the Revolution, though it consisted primarily of former communist bureaucrats. These individuals were often referred to as “communist dinosaurs,” or as I was told many times over the years, “They’re the same guys, now just wearing different hats.” 40
  41. 41. investors, giving Romanians some hope over the next few years as their economy skyrocketed to one of the fastest-growing in Eastern Europe (Ben Rockwell, personal communication, 1 February 2007). B!sescu’s decision to deliver a public condemnation of Romania’s communist past just weeks before the accession, however, had serious repercussions, both for his personal and professional reputation, and for the broader dynamics of remembrance work in Romania’s public sphere. Drawing upon findings from the Final Report of the Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania,17 B!sescu denounced the regime to the Romanian Parliament as “illegitimate and criminal,” and introduced a set of proposals for state-funded projects to officially commemorate the “victims of communist terror and repression”18 (B!sescu 2007: 6; Smith 2006). Amidst a cacophony of boos, whistles, and applause filling the Parliamentary chamber, his speech concluded, “I thought that we would be able to forget about communism, but it didn’t want to forget about us. As such, the condemnation of this past is a priority of the present… All I want is to pave the way for democracy in Romania and our national identity with a clean slate” (B!sescu 2007: 6). The President’s statement proved to be highly controversial. Many Romanians expressed appreciation that an elected official finally had made a formal, public apology, and had called for atonement for past grievances. A significant number of Romanian politicians, however, were outraged at B!sescu’s gall to question their present-day credibility by “naming names” and publicising their connections to the previous regime. They reacted with their 17 In March 2006, B!sescu appointed Vladimir Tism!neanu, a political science professor at the University of Maryland, to direct a team of interdisciplinary researchers for this Report. According to one of the members of this Commission, they were given seven months to produce a coherent synthesis of the “methods and institutions of totalitarian communism,” documenting particular individuals’ roles in the “crimes and abuses” perpetuated during that period (Cristian Vasilescu, personal communication, 19 June 2009). 18 These plans included raising a new monument in Bucharest to honour these “victims”; setting aside a national day of commemoration; founding a new museum (a “place of memory”) containing archival documents essential to understanding communism; preparing a series of university conferences to present the contents of the “Final Report” detailing the former government and Securitate members’ “crimes against humanity”; creating an Encyclopaedia of Romanian Communism; awarding twelve grants per year to young scholars interested in studying aspects of the communist dictatorship; and developing the first textbook on Romania’s communist past to be taught in schools throughout the country (B!sescu 2007: 6). 41
  42. 42. own televised political offensives, which according to many public figures confirmed that contemporary Romanian society was “even more loaded with residual communism” than it previously had seemed (Blandiana 2007: 6). The response among intellectual circles was divided. Democracypromoting institutions defended B!sescu’s actions, praising the Final Report’s “well-researched” and “scientific” foundations. In February 2007 the Group for Social Dialogue (GDS) published an appeal signed by 65 scholars who blamed the growing “political crisis” on the defensive reactions of politicians who felt threatened by the President’s recent initiatives. They urged Romanian citizens to stop allowing “political rubbish accumulated during the transition years” to be “shoved under the rug of history” (GDS 2007). Others lamented that the chaos in Romania’s Parliament was particularly shameful when legislators should have been adhering to the more “civilised” codes of the European Union (Ciucu 2007: 5; #imonca 2007: 4; Vasilescu 2007: 3). Still other critiques emerged, blaming the President for focusing too much on the repressions and injustices committed under communism, and for not conveying a more balanced picture of the past (Cristian Vasilescu, personal communication, 19 June 2009). Existing rivalries between B!sescu and Prime Minister T!riceanu intensified, and in April 2007, the Romanian Parliament voted to suspend the President, on the pretext of violating the Constitution for an unrelated reason. A public referendum for his impeachment was held in May 2007, but nearly 75% of the electorate voted to keep him in office. The longer-term political repercussions of these events are complex, and extend beyond the scope of my thesis, but I describe these dynamics in order to outline the political context of Romania’s flourishing culture of recollection in 2007. As I already have mentioned, such political discourses may influence those existing in everyday realms, but they are also challenged by them. Together, they formed a dense and complicated web of remembrance work in Romania’s public sphere that may be traced back through the past two decades. As Georgescu has observed (2009), the 1990s were dominated by a “first memorial wave,” documenting the injustices of the past and confronting them in a “morally responsible” manner. This earlier period featured 42
  43. 43. mobilisations of memory to identify the perpetrators of communist crimes and seek retribution, or to educate future generations on avoiding similar “traumas” in the future (see Blandiana 1999: 311, Constantinescu, et al. 2000). The subsequent decade evidenced a “second memorial wave,” hosting more diverse and “polyphonic” forms of public recollection (Georgescu 2009), involving “reflective” forms of nostalgia (Boym 2001) and memoiristic essays exploring individuals’ personal experiences of the past. Literature,19 films,20 plays,21 and museum exhibits22 demonstrated slightly more individualised and multifaceted responses to everyday life under totalitarianism, supplementing the clichéd references to the past already flooding Romanian newspapers, cultural journals, research projects, 23 scholarly publications,24 television shows, websites, 25 and commercial arenas.26 Yet as Georgescu has suggested (2009), the majority of these cultural and intellectual discourses still contained moralistic overtones, subscribing to and perpetuating public frameworks of cultural memory emphasising the need to overcome Romania’s “damaging” and “unhealthy” past. 19 Cernat, et al (2004, 2005); Ernu (2006); Istodor (2007); Manolache, et al (2007); Manolescu (2008). 20 A fost sau n-a fost [12:08 east of Bucharest] (2006); Amintiri din Epoca de Aur [Tales from the Golden Age] (2009); California dreamin’ (nesfâr!it) [California dreamin’ (endless)] (2007); Cum mi-am petrecut sfâr!itul lumii [How I celebrated the end of the world] (2006); Hârtia va fi albastr" [The paper will be blue] (2006); and 4 luni, 3 s"pt"mâni !i 2 zile [4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days] (2007). 21 Dinulescu (2005); Mihailov (2008); Nelega (2005). 22 „Metamorfoza unei metropole: ‚Micul Paris’” [“Metamorphosis of a Metropolis: ‘Little Paris’”] exhibition at the “Sala Dalles” art gallery in Bucharest (2006); „Epoca de aur: între propagand" !i realitate” [“The Golden Age: Between Propaganda and Reality”] exhibition at the National History Museum in Bucharest (2007); Dacia 1300: my generation (2003), a video installation by #tefan Constantinescu at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest (2007). 23 “Remembering Communism,” a three-year research project involving academics from Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria, headed by Maria Todorova and Stefan Troebst (2006); the “Urban Remembrance and Memory of Europe” (URME) project, involving collaborators from seven Central and East European cities, initiated in Bucharest (2006); “Regimes of Representation: Art and Politics beyond the House of People [sic]” conference at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest (2007); „Comunismul a fost condemnat: ce urmeaz"?” [“Communism Has Been Condemned: What’s Next?”], a colloquium organised by the Civic Alliance in Bucharest (2007); a call for papers on the “Politics of Memory in Postcommunist Europe,” for the Fifth Yearbook of the Bucharest Institute for Communist Crimes and the Memory of Romanian Exile (2010). 24 Anghelescu, et al., eds. (2003, 2005); Câmpeanu (1994); Constantinescu, et al., eds. (2000); Mih!ilescu (2006); Neculau (2004); Sandqvist and Zahariade (2003). 25 http://www.rememberingcommunism.org/; and http://www.latrecut.ro/ are two of the more popular ones currently in operation [accessed 01 February 2010]. 26 I observed images of Ceau"escu on billboards and in television advertisements, used to market products from chocolate to mobile phones to laundry detergent. 43
  44. 44. This observation reinforces the notion that most discussions of remembrance work are inevitably value-laden activities. Romanian assessments about how the past should or should not be addressed intersect with wider debates about whether the act of remembering may have positive, regenerative qualities, or unhealthy, dysfunctional ones. As Gross observes (2000: 32), after the rise of “modernity” in the 17th century, historians and philosophers began to view the act of remembering as an inability to live fully in the present, rather than as a grounding or creative force. Yet Gross falls into similar patterns of weighing out the “value of memory” in relation to the “value of forgetting” in contemporary society, asking, “Should we late moderns be advised to remember our past or forget it?” (ibid 137). While I refrain from asking such questions in my own thesis, identifying and delineating current discussions about memory work in the context of postsocialist, EU accession-era Bucharest illuminates dynamics that are specific to a particular framework, leading to deeper understandings of the social and political configurations of one small segment of the world’s “late-modern” population. Summaries and Conclusions Rather than concentrating on the norms of recall perpetuated through official, cultural memories, my thesis leans more towards evaluating the substance and significance of unofficial, communicative memories. While the performance and debate of “Amalia Takes a Deep Breath” illustrates that official and unofficial modes of remembrance work are often inextricable, my thesis is less concerned with institutionalised, state-directed practices. Although it is important to acknowledge that remembrance work does fall along dividing-lines of social class, generational cohort, and national and political affiliation, or may be commodified, politically mobilised, or exploited in artistic, literary, and academic discourses, I have chosen to highlight memory’s appearances within ordinary objects, spaces, and landscapes, and the 44
  45. 45. ways in which it may move between inadvertent and deliberate evocations, and take on commemorative and non-commemorative functions. My attention to mundane realms points to the importance of everyday material practices in and of themselves, rather than viewing them as a means to access underlying social structures and processes. Such a perspective is less about making moral pronouncements or uncovering fundamental “truths” about the past, and more about delving into its varied interpretations, into its nebulous, sometimes disjointed, and often contradictory qualities. It posits memory not as a mere enduring trace, but as a dynamic and active social force. It also takes into account that this topic often involves a reflexive attention towards the practice of memory research within mnemonic communities themselves, as Romanians are increasingly attentive to how memories are continuing to surface in their own lives. While memory may be interpreted both as a cultural process and an historical artefact (Cattell and Climo 2002: 12), it is essential to consider its corporeal properties as well. My thesis draws attention to the particular and concrete operations of memory itself: its methods of appearing and disappearing; its relationships to the visceral and the visual; its sensory aspects and incarnations; its varied materialisations in everyday life. My approach is not a purely phenomenological one, however, for I view these embodied experiences as part of memory’s broader trajectories through varied social, political, and historical contexts. By addressing such experiences through writing and film, I explore these processes on individual, corporeal, and sociocultural levels. By instigating situations in the field that provoked and generated “felt” memories in my collaborators and in myself, I treat my fieldwork as an active and contingent space, which instead of being dictated by pre-established hypotheses, as in most other anthropological projects, itself plays a key role in shaping the textures and dimensions of my research. Chapter 2 explores urban, exterior landscapes of Bucharest and the ways in which people have constructed and reconstructed the city over time. Chapter 3 analyses neglected and forgotten collections of objects within domestic and private interiors. Chapter 4 investigates Romanian money as a material object and as an element of everyday practice invoking strong 45

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