"Europa regina", Sebastian Munster, 1570

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Europe_as_a_queen_map.JPG#filelinks (accesed 9th Jun 2013)

Problematic Aspects in the Historiography of Romanian Architecture

“All [of these countries] seem to be governed by the same principle of the identity crisis, of the conflictive absorption of contradictory cultural waves, of a provincial model, low-keyed, but haunted by failure and lack of perspective. All seem to struggle between the majoritarian indifference and the elite’s schizophrenia, all seem to have something in common, but none of them knows the others, as if they were under a common curse: resonating with distant and disdainful centres instead of relating to ignored brothers.” Sorin Alexandrescu, Identitate în ruptură /1/ Architectural historians do not speak very often about how and why they write, about their narratives and the reasons behind them. This statement is especially valid for cultures like mine, where the discipline is quite young and has been exposed to frequent disturbing pressures that have left it confined within its own original contradictions and limitations. The recent colloquium Current Issues of Central and East European Architectural Historiography, held in Bratislava /2/ incited me to reflect upon our architectural historiography for at least two reasons. On the one hand, I am not the only one to believe that the CEE context is more than an administrative geography of vicinity, distinct from Western Europe. In many respects and in parallel moments, countries in this area had comparable evolutions “at the crossroad of cultures”, sharing a similar ethos, obeying analogous influences and common constraints. We can assume the existence of a common cultural dimension that underlies and joins in a peculiar manner what we restrictively and jealously call each of our “national” architectural developments. Or, as long as our researches remain enclosed within the arbitrariness of political borders, each of us separately lamenting our “provincialism”, this dimension will stay hidden and insufficiently explored. On the other hand, in Romania today, the emergence of a new generation of historians certainly marks a turning point in our historiography. I could assume that announcing these new approaches might stimulate cross-border collaborations, thus contributing to the construction of a comparative research milieu interested in gauging with proper methodological tools the cultural potential of this area. That is why I decided to skim through the Romanian experience, offering some snapshots meant to call into question certain problematic aspects of our historiographic tradition, along with some of the recent attempts to overcome them….

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