Reconstructing cultural identity: a Transylvanian case
Alina Ioana Branda (Babes-Bolyai University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper aims to analyze specific ways of reconstructing self historical and cultural identities, after repetitive traumas, focusing on the case of a Transylvanian Jewish community.
Paper long abstract:
The "Romanian Chapter of Holocaust" and the Transylvanian one, following a period of anti-Semitic laws exposed the Cluj Jews to limit experiences and triggered deep anxieties and traumas. Then, the social changes in Romania (the communist regime installed and the belonging to the Soviet Block) caused other individual and community traumas: the deprivation from social and educational functions of the community (as a specific historical structure, having for Jews the role of the State, compensating, at that time, its non existence), through different decrees, ordinances, laws in 1948, 1949, aiming at nationalizing hospitals, medical centers, orphanages, Jewish schools. This process affected enormously Jewish communities all over Romania, loosing those parts of institutions contributive to processes of identity construction and representation. On 11-th of August 1949, the imposed unification of the neolog, orthodox and Sephardic communities in Romania continued the aggressive campaign of the Romanian totalitarian state against Jewry. The post totalitarian period configured other specific problems: the emigration to Israel and other countries continued, the property restitution disadvantaged the Jews, and in general terms, non citizens and non residents of Romania. The goal of my paper is to analyze the strategies of identity self reconstruction, as they are present nowadays among the Cluj Jewish community members, after all these internalized traumas. The paper is the result of the fieldwork I have been conducting in Cluj in the last years. Semi structured interviews and life histories have been extremely useful in my analysis.
Intimacy of social memory and the construction of self-identity linked to the Holocaust and forced migrations in the current interconnected world