Ethnography in Romania: Hegemony, Project and the Myth of Structuralism

Alexandru Iorga


This article is the second in a series of texts about ethnography in
Romania. In the previous paper, I discussed the tangled history of ethnography and other social sciences, pointing out that the hegemonic project of interwar sociology in Romania had a significant impact on the development of ethnography as a scientific discipline2. I highlighted the fact that ethnography – understood in its broader political context was (i.) guided by the shadows of the past, (ii.) and
its main role was to discipline and patrimonialize popular culture, and (iii.) it was neither synchronous nor ground-breaking in relation to other comparable cases in Europe. In what follows, I focus on the institutionalized ethnographic research agenda and on the various meanings of such research by discussing its relationships with other social sciences in the context of the national development
of ethnography as a distinct branch (e.g. from anthropology) since its very beginning.
Secondly, I argue that institutionalized ethnographic practice in Romania
during the communist period and immediately after the fall of the communist regime significantly lacked reflective assessments and development of a theoretical corpus. I focus on the research practices developed in the context of the decades long project of the Romanian Ethnographic Atlas (REA), and its impact on the
current status of the discipline.

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