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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.