CENTRE FOR ADVANCED STUDY SOFIA

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Cosmin Minea

Cosmin Minea recently defended his PhD thesis in the Department of Art History at the University of Birmingham (December 2019), titled 'Old Buildings for Modern Times: The Rise of Architectural Monuments as Symbols of The State in Late 19th Century Romania'. His research considers the European-wide networks of architects and intellectuals involved in creating, restoring and promoting historical monuments, heritage sites and a sense of national cultural identity in late 19th century Romania. He has been a teaching assistant and he is currently a visiting lecturer at the University of Birmingham, convening in 2020 the module ‘Political Art', where he considers some of the many ways in which art played a visible political role from the nineteenth century to the present. He has been a research fellow at a number of institutions, including Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology, Institut national d'histoire de l'art, Paris, Leibniz Institute for European History in Mainz, New Europe College, Bucharest. His MA thesis, defended in 2014, at Central European University in Budapest received the ‘Hanák Prize' for the best dissertation in the History Department.

The Promotion and Use of Roman Antiquities in 19th Century Romania

My proposed paper describes the international archeological missions and study of the Roman antiquities in 19th century Romania. If medieval monuments connected Romania with the idea of Byzantine culture, the Roman remains played a special symbolic role as proofs of the Latin origin of Romanians. Nevertheless, what was an endeavour of great significance for the national identity of Romanians (unearthing and study of archeological remains) was also essentially a transnational, collaborative discipline. Since Wallachia and Moldavia united to form Romania in 1859, foreign specialists were actively involved in shaping the material heritage of the country. The very first archeological mission in the state of Romania, in 1865, was a French one, while the most active 19th century Romanian archaeologist, Grigore Tocilescu (1850-1909), conducted his studies of Roman monuments together with German and Austrian archaeologists. At the same time, Italy and Rome in particular were taken as reference points for the excavation and study of antiquities. My paper will therefore describe the entangled transnational networks of intellectuals who, through archeological missions and the study and display of artefacts, contributed at building a Romanian national identity. Drawing from the main argument of my entire PhD Thesis, the paper will state that the discovery, restoration and promotion of archeological sites, albeit seen as a work of national significance, was done across nation-states and nationalities, involving the input of artists and intellectuals from many European countries. At the same time, my analysis of the entanglements between Western and Romanian artists and intellectuals offers new arguments for the broader relevance of Eastern Europe and can contribute to de-peripheralize the region within wider studies of European heritage.

 

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