Russian Old Believers' heritage and traditions in Romania - bridging the past and future
Clopot, Cristina Elena
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This thesis focuses on the heritage and traditions of the Russian Old Believers community in Romania. The study begins with an examination of the limited recognition of the 19 officially recognised ethnic groups in the country. Analysed in connection with the history of Old Belief, the study then considers (a) the narratives developed around heritage, (b) the manner in which different forms of heritage are included in Old Believers’ lives and traditions and (c) the representation of that heritage. The theoretical framework is underpinned by a multi-disciplinary structure that draws on heritage studies, anthropology, ethnology and folklore. Methodologically, the study was designed as an interpretive multisited ethnography that combines extensive fieldtrips, interviews, observations and archival material. While acknowledging the challenges of UNESCO’s conceptualisation of heritage, the thesis relies in part on the organisation’s interpretation as a framework for analysis. The examination considers the representation of Old Believers in the media and in museums as well as the use of heritage and traditions in tourism activities. The data tracks the accelerated pace of change in the post-socialist period and the effects this brought on existing heritage processes. The relative success of revitalisation efforts is evaluated in parallel with the disruptions in lifestyle patterns by processes such as globalisation and migration. In conclusion, the study outlines the importance of both religious and secular heritage for identity-work and community-building.