Publication Date

April 2012


The last country God created was Romania. Realizing that he still had a lot of riches left over from the other countries, He let Romania have more natural treasures than anybody else. Seeing this, Saint Peter asked in surprise: "My Lord, why are you giving this country more riches than you've given to any other?" "Don't you worry," said the Lord, "Just wait 'till you see the people I will put in charge of those riches!..."

Whether Saint Peter was eventually satisfied with Romania's condition, we do not know. What this paper does investigate, however, is what God meant by his promise: exactly what kind of people did he end up putting in Romania? Questioning the deity is a complicated (if not risky) enterprise; instead, this study turns its inquisitive gaze on the Romanians themselves. Who do they, themselves, think God put in Romania? Or, more to the point, what does the Romanian narrative of national identity look like and how has it changed over the recent decades? Mapping the coordinates of a phenomenon as complex and, oftentimes, ambiguous, as the Romanian identity discourse is an inherently perilous proposition: no amount of description and interpretation (however skillful and innovative) can achieve a complete account of an entire weltanschauung. As a result, this paper limits itself to offering a fragmentary, partly digested story about the manner in which the perceived, informal Romanian national idea (i.e., "Romanianness") is put together. I use the word "informal" to differentiate a perceived "Romanianness" from the formal, heavily ideological, elite-originated notion of"Romanianism."

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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