About the project

Using and reusing antiquity in the last hundred years represents one of the major cultural specificities of Central-Eastern Europe and one of the crucial elements in the so-called historical wounded identities of the region. Romania is a particularly good case study within this macro-regional phenomena, classical antiquity representing one of the founding myths of ethnogenesis and of contemporary forms of Romanian nationalisms. The topic represents an important aspect of contemporary international metahistorical analysis and research approach on archaeological thought and can be integrated in an international research focus which was rarely used in Romanian and generally, in Central-Eastern European context.

Metahistory, the notion of Hayden White represents one of the novelties in the 20th century historiography, a useful tool of operation which allow us to analyse the intellectual or „knowledge” production and their often problematic interconnectivity with popular history and political memorialisation and instrumentalisation of the ancient past.  The using of the ancient past (late La Tène and Roman periods: 1st century BC-3rd-4th century AD) to maintain and constantly shape local and glocal national identities is one of the key specificities of Central-Eastern Europe. With this historiographic approach, countries such as Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Greece show a regional pattern in modern, nation-building projects and shaping the local cultural identities on the level of the individual and imagined macro-communities, such as nations.

Analysing the common features of these countries, one can observe some of the key elements which will consist also the central features of my research: 1) the semi-perypheral nature of these countries in continental history 2) the intense interconnectivity between the Western and Eastern political, cultural and religious influences 3) the woundedness in historical self-identities and nation-building narratives 4) the concious and permanent use and instrumentalisation of ancient, classical past in the nation-building narratives and metahistories during the 20th and 21st century 5) the essential role of Orthodox religion and religious institution in the above mentioned nation-building process and instrumentalisation of the ancient past. These five essential features contextualize Romania within a larger, glocal region and historical perspective. The project aims to be the first comprehensive work focusing on the role of metahistories of classical antiquity used in the textual narratives (manuals, theological works, official statements), space sacralisations (churches, pilgrimage sites, memorial places) and visual narratives (statues, iconographies) of the Romanian Orthodox Church in the period of 1918-2018 (between the foundation of modern Romania and the centenary celebrations). The major questions of the project reflect the methodological approaches of religious studies, which is the major disciplinary category of my project.

Project financed by the Pastorales Forum, Vienna (2022-2025)