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The constitutive other: topical and tropical phanariot in modern Romania

[journal article]

Chioveanu, Mihai

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Abstract Few episodes in Romania's history are as heatedly debated, disputed, and instrumentalized for political, ideological, educational, and entertainment ends, as the Phanariot Century. The bulk of scholarly studies notwithstanding, for most Romanians this period represents the paradigmatic "Dark Age" of decadence, and the icon of the "Ancient Regime" of their national history. Due the univocal nature of the topic, the too strong and restrictive focus on aspects that are not necessarily essential and illustrative, the abused and misused Phanariot was gradually turned over the last two centuries into a trope. Reflecting on the above matter, my intention is to analyze in the nexus created by text and context a particular set of written works and historical events relevant to the process of shaping Romanian modern historical culture and national identity. My aim is to reconstruct the conflict flanked by the antithetical role models of the Good Romanian and Evil Phanariot. In this sense, I will trace and analyze the emergence and evolution of the specific, anti-Phanariot discourse. My focus is on the origins of the theme, its dynamic, and frequency, the way it was used, abused, and misused by the Romanian elites during the 19th and the 20th century. My emphasis is not on political and social themes but rather on issues closer to cultural history, with the Phanariot as a literary artifact making my chief attention. Inspired by Hayden White's "archeology of ideas", I will consider and analyze only some of the most representative and popular representations of the Phanariot. Consequently, the final result will consist in a collection of artifacts that might illuminate the reader on the complex cultural pedigree of a constitutive, in many respects fictional, otherness.
Keywords nationalism; cultural identity; myth; elite; national identity; cultural history; historical development; Romania
Classification Cultural Sociology, Sociology of Art, Sociology of Literature
Document language English
Publication Year 2009
Page/Pages p. 213-227
Journal Studia Politica : Romanian Political Science Review, 9 (2009) 2
ISSN 1582-4551
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works