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Postcolonial Readings of Romanian Identity Narratives

Onoriu Colăcel

The book offers a view of national self-identification in the literary culture of twentieth century Romania with a special focus on the postcolonial paradigm. Romanian identity narratives downplay the colonial setup of the country’s past and the colonial past goes unmentioned in the country’s historiography and popular culture. However, the postcolonial paradigm helps readers grasp national self-identification in modern Romanian culture. The author analyses how Anglo-American reporting on interwar Romania and later Romanian historical fiction establish notions such as hybridity and cultural overlap as conducive to the making of modern Romanian culture.
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1. The Romanian Quest for Identity: Culture-bound Storytelling and Postcolonialism


1.1. Identity versus Identification in Narrative Reporting on National Feeling

In the borderlands of Western civilization, particularly in Eastern Europe, an unlikely relationship is recorded in the language of public narratives. The literary language and some of the stories it conveys are a testimonial to the association that develops between the notions of ‘postcolonialism’ and the making of nations. The ‘culture-bound’ character of such meanings has everything to do with the attempt to assert the separate and continuous existence of peculiar properties defining, for instance, the Romanian identity. Now and again, the narrative negotiation between the demands for a national self, tailored to local desires, and the heritage of a global, essentially, colonial past surfaces in the national ,selfidentification of post-colonial1 modern literary cultures.

Nationalism itself is associated with the values of a peculiar worldview, manifest in a characteristic behaviour. Ironically, this is quite appropriate from the perspective of various strands of nationalism studies2 that suspect the rhetoric of nationalism of being self-serving rather than self-sacrificing. It is safe to say that, functionally, the conduct prescribed by devotion to one’s country is strangely similar to other learnt behaviours. Nonetheless, the worldview of a culture or another is restricted to some meaningful values and beliefs that shape easily recognisable public discourses and even social agency. Everything makes sense when employed to help with a pervasive question, always around since the advent of the “modern Europe of nations” (Dainotto, 2007: 139). This viral question goes right...

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