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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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4. The American Take on What Natives Want


My choice of US-marketed books about early 20th-century Romania is meant to prove that the native establishment51 internalized the colonial frame of reference largely exemplified in the previous chapter.

Of course, some Western nations formally extended political aid to the Romanian principalities, as a means to counter the influence of regional powers as early as the Napoleon III52. This led to the set-up of a symbolic link between the natives’ young literary culture (almost exclusively focused on nation-building) and the tradition of the French nation state, as recorded in European-languages literatures. Therefore, the early 20th-century overlap between the Anglo-American and the Romanian public languages of identity is a stage in the previously established relations of control and influence the French/the German/the Austrians had with specific Romanian principalities. For all intents and purposes, the West was conceptualized by the indigenous public culture in opposition to the Ottoman and the Russian hold of the Romanian principalities.

Furthermore, it turns out that the language some Romanians share with the British and the Americans is more than a means of expression. Instead, it has everything to do with the Anglo-American53 endorsement of the Romanian way of seeing neighbours, enemies, friends, etc. The exchange comes across as the proof that the good fortune of the indigenous society is attainable only by acquiring the narrative knowledge of delineating national characters by means of the adversarial rhetoric colonial nations use in the first place. Correspondingly, Romanian self-identification is built on stereotyping...

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