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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

European integration, transnationalism and identity in the Transylvanian city of Sibiu, Romania
by Hasegan, Teodora C., Ph.D., State University of New York at Binghamton, 2010, 255; 3413149
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation argues that the European Union (EU) is one of the transnational actors which caused the transformations in the societies of this region. In response to the membership in the European Union, postcommunist states, societies and economies in Eastern Europe are undergoing unprecedented change and are in a process of re-definition and re-evaluation. This dissertation focuses on those aspects of network formation in Sibiu city in Transylvania region in Romania that shape the political and social reality of the EU as an emerging transnational society in the wider context of globalization.

The European integration process relies in part on programmes initiated by the European Commission. They form particular kinds of networks which test how different cultures can be brought together and what is the result of such an enterprise. One of these programmes is the European Capital of Culture (ECC). In 2007, Sibiu city in Romania was named ECC (together with Luxembourg and the Greater Region). The status of European Capital of Culture was simultaneous with Romania’s accession to the EU in 2007. Thus, the events taking place in Sibiu were given great symbolic and political importance in Romania. The political and social transformations that took place in Sibiu have been increasingly influenced by the transnational political economic forces that the local residents had to negotiate, especially given the multiple transnational political allegiances they held. Romania’s integration into the EU did not simply reiterate Sibiu’s complex historical interactions with international agents. This dissertation argues that the accession to the European Union introduced an alternative model of sociopolitical governance which gave a greater emphasis on decentralization and the infusion of resources into civil society. Thus, civil society became an alternative platform through which the Romanian institutional landscape could be transformed and a more entrepreneurial approach to socio-cultural involvement introduced (Chira).

The European Capital of Culture was one of the main catalysts for an intensification of NGO activity. This dissertation looks at culture as a strategy advancing European integration from ‘below.’ It argues that related to and supporting the role of civil society is the renewed concern for revitalizing local traditions, which are seen as necessary in affirming Romanian national identity in the context of European Union. At the same time, traditions strengthen regional identities. The connections between subsidiarity (a concept which stresses the significance of the local and regional levels in general), cultural diversity and European legitimacy have been identified as key aspects of EU cultural policy (Pantel 1999). Subsidiarity is seen by the EU as achievable by giving a voice to civil society, especially in subnational levels. This dissertation aims to analyze how the European Capital of Culture programme—which is part of European Union cultural policy (Shore 1993)—represents an instrument through which a gradually increasing amount of power has been transferred to regional authorities and to diverse non-state actors. This resulted in a growing involvement of the representatives of local public administration and of citizens.

This dissertation is organized around three main themes in the context of Sibiu European Capital of Culture. The first one focuses on the definitions of Europe at local and national levels in Romania. It looks at the transnational networks which create a transnational European public space. The second theme reviews the trend towards decentralization and regionalization in Romania as seen in the Sibiu European Capital of Culture programme and wider effects in Romania due to European integration. The third theme explores heritage and debates on what it means to be European in Sibiu which is happening at the same time as an increase in the civic mobilization and the trend toward decentralization in Romania. To sum up, this dissertation is about the relation between cultural policies, political decentralization and identity building in the context of European integration in Romania. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wilson, Thomas M.
Commitee: Holmes, Douglas R., O'Hearn, Denis, Smart, Pamela G.
School: State University of New York at Binghamton
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/08, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology
Keywords: European integration, Identity, Romania, Sibiu, Transnationalism, Transylvania
Publication Number: 3413149
ISBN: 978-1-124-13254-9
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