To the Concept Foundation, Bucharest
The Cultural Policy sub-component
of the Arts and Culture Network Program
1. Project title
ECHINOX - A Multicultural Cluster -
2. Project summary
Our project applies to the specific multicultural context of Transylvania. With the “two-wave” European integration of the Eastern countries, with Hungary inside the European Community and Romania outside of it, the gap between the two cultures is at the risk of widening. Our aim is to create a program of media and cultural means (a set of on-line, traditional paper and book form reviews) that bring together young cultivated Romanian, Hungarian and German people from Transylvania. Its starting point is the multicultural university “Babes-Bolyai” in Cluj (UBB), and it is meant to irradiate from the local to the regional zone and then to the whole of Europe.
3. Situational analysis and connections with cultural policy issues
European integration implies as a preliminary step regional integration. However, given the “two speeds” of development of the ex-communist Eastern countries, Hungary and Romania are likely to fall into two different zones, separated (even if temporarily) by deeper political and juridical borders (the visa regime, for example). Besides diplomatic and economic cooperation, culture and education are a fortunate way to widen larger contacts between individuals and communities. As Transylvania is a privileged space of multiethnic cohabitation, it is reasonable to start a collaboration program from its very core, the city of Cluj.
Governmental policies do not meet the global requirements of such a task. This is why public and private initiatives are needed. Our project is to join an NGO, The Echinox Cultural Foundation in Cluj, with an established institution, “Babes-Bolyai” University in Cluj, in a multicultural project that goes beyond the specific educational academic activity. The two partners complete each other. On the one hand, “Babes-Bolyai” University has a sound practice and a reputable tradition of multilingual teaching, which draw together Romanian, Hungarian and German people. On the other hand, since its very creation in 1968, the Echinox review has published texts in all the three languages, to which it has added, in the last decade, pages in French, English and Italian.
We target a specific public, students and the academic staff, because they are the most effective purveyors of innovative ideas. Due to its multi-linguistic aspect, the message of cultural cooperation between young students and scholars is supposed to spread in circular waves: from the university core in Cluj, to the main urban centers in Transylvania, then through the borders between Romania and Hungary, and finally to the Western countries.
The long-term aim of the project is to amplify an already existing institutional place of scientific and cultural dialogue between people from Transylvania, Romania, Hungary and the Western countries.
The short-term aim of the project, for which we submitted this sponsoring proposal, was to develop the already existing structure of the Echinox review into a multilayered activity. This objective has been completed. Starting with 2001, the Echinox Cultural Foundation is editing three different media forms:
- An on-line review. We created a website that reflects the whole activity of our Foundation. Its e-address is www.lett.ubbcluj.ro/~echinox.
It was designed by Cristina Varga.
It has several main pages:
- a page for on-line publishing of the Echinox review
- a page for on-line publishing of the Echinox journal
- a page for the Histogram of the Echinox. We present the history of the Echinox group from its birth in 1966-7 until today. We also include a dictionary with short CVs of the over 150 student-members of the editorial board.
- an archive page, which contains the e-edition of several back issues, and an Index that allows a complex search (by name, by literary species, by date, by issue) into the whole collection of the review
- a description page of the Foundation, with its members and its functioning statute.
- a page for an “electronic café” that comprises:
- a Debate Forum for launching and discussing up-to-date problems, as topics for genuine and spontaneous contacts between young people from Romania, Hungary and all the web community;
- an on-line café for electronic publishing of individual works and for offering free opinions about them;
- an advertising page for announcements concerning the current activity of the Foundation (conferences etc.);
- a page for e-mail contacts with all the members of the editorial board.
The website has been launched on the internet and registered at some of the main research engines (yahoo, google, alltheweb, webcrawler etc.).
- A classical paper review, the Echinox Review. It is a review with issues published every other month, conceived as a mirror of the cultural problems of the moment. It offers samples of creative writing and views about the latest evolutions in the majority and the minority literatures, it provides translations from one language to another, it sketches a panorama of the recently published books. While the on-line review is open to spontaneous dialogues, the paper review is dedicated to elaborate creative and educational dialogues, stimulating the standard literary abilities of expression.
Its director is Horea Poenar, assistant professor in literary theory at the Faculty of Letters. The editorial board, which functions as an “editing school”, comprises mainly students from the Babes-Bolyai University.
- A book-form review, the Echinox Journal. It is a bi-annual journal, consisting of thematic issues of about 250 pages each. It publishes academic studies, in a scholarly shape, dedicated to research topics. It is a multi-linguistic periodical, with texts in Romanian, English, French, Hungarian, German, or Italian. We envisage it as a means of spreading and making known local scholarship to the Western public. We already sent about 50 courtesy copies of our first volume at worldwide libraries, universities and research centers, inviting them to subscribe.
The journal is directed by Corin Braga and Stefan Borbély, associate professors in comparative literature at the Faculty of Letters.
We conceive these three publications as a concentric cultural device, able to spread in radial waves from Cluj to Transilvania, to Romania, to Eastern and then to Western Europe. The on-line review stimulates spontaneous creativity and the dialogue on “the spur of the moment” of a large (on-line) public; the Echinox review addresses a more specific public, students in the humanities, stimulating an educated dialogue; the Echinox Journal publishes the scholarly results of academic research work performed by MA and PhD students or the university staff and academic researchers. Jointly, they represent a three-level collaboration between ethnically different people living in the same area.
The project brought together several governmental and non-governmental institutions. These are: The Echinox Cultural Foundation (ONG); The Center for Imagination Studies at the Faculty of Letters in Cluj (Excellency Research Center); The Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj; The Romanian Association of Comparative Literature; The Dacia Editing House in Cluj. Combining individual interests and efforts with institutional logistics and financial means provided a strong momentum to the whole project and amplified its impact on the public.
5. Participants and target groups
We can talk about three kinds of participants: the working team, the contributors, and the public.
The working team comprises the executive directors (Corin Braga, Stefan Borbély, Horea Poenar), the editorial boards (about 25 students), and the computer specialists (the web-designer, the page-constructors etc.)
The list of contributors we managed to attract features worldwide professors and researchers (Richard Rorty, Victor Neumann, Virgil Nemoianu, Suzanne Travers, Edward Kanterian, Claude Karnoouh, Christian Moraru, Tomas Varnagy, Paul Cornea, Mircea Martin, Horváth Andor, Monica Spiridon, Ion Bogdan Lefter, Augustin Ioan, Nicoale Mecu, etc.) and local students and junior researchers.
The public is targeted at different levels. The electronic review targets the on-line Romanian, Hungarian and German communities. It is also accessible to the whole web community.
The Echinox review addresses students and people interested in literature and culture. We publish each issue in 700 copies. 200 copies are distributed freely, as courtesy copies, to different persons and institutions, in Romania and abroad. The remaining 500 copies are distributed all over the country, through a commercial selling system.
The Echinox Journal focuses on academically trained public (researchers, academic staff etc.). We publish it in 700 copies also. 200 are offered freely to different persons and institutions: contributors, university staff, cultural personalities, literary and scientific reviews, editorial boards, research centers and institutes, libraries (including Washington, Harvard, Paris, Rome, Budapest, Vienna, London, Germany, Israel). The other 500 copies are sold through the commercial distribution network of the Dacia Publishing House.
6. Media coverage
We had a good public and media impact.
In September 2001, the first volume of the Echinox Journal, on “Postcolonialism & Postcomunism”, received the Prize for the Best Romanian Review at the National Book Fair in Oradea.
Some main national cultural and literary reviews dedicated us several articles, which ranch from information presentations to case studies. For example: Ion Bogdan Lefter et alia, in Observator cultural, 61, 2001 and 86, 2001; Ion Pop, in Romania literara, 29, 2001; Cezar Paul-Badescu, in Dilema, 445, 2001; in Vatra, 6-7, 2001; in Calende, 1-2-3-4, 2001, in Cuvantul libertatii, 3546, 2001. Some other presentations will be published in reviews from Canada and Belgium. (Please see attached photocopies)
We should also notice a good public reception which reached us by informal ways of communication (oral praises, personal contacts, phones, e-mails etc.).
7. Follow-up activities
The grant we were awarded was intended just to help us start the new three-folded formula of the Echinox. Of course we shall continue editing the Echinox review and the Echinox Journal. We identified several sponsors who are willing to help us.
The Echinox website will be soon completed and totally functional. The Echinox review will be published with the help of the Babes-Bolyai University, which finally agreed on a formula of collaboration. The Echinox journal will be published volume by volume, finding in each case a sponsor for the topic we want to discuss. We have resources for another two issues, and we have promises or hopes of sponsoring from several institutions, such as the Community of the Romanian-Germans from Germany or the Sindan Cultural Center. On the other hand, the Echinox journal is also a publishing organ of the Center for Imagination Studies in Cluj, so that it could raise funds from there too.
8. Additional information or explanation
The Echinox review has functioned in a unique formula: since 1968, it has gathered in its editing board the most gifted individuals from each generation of alumni from “Babes-Bolyai” University. It has formed what could be termed a school, whose members amount to more than 200 persons now living in Romania, in Hungary and abroad. Many of them are today well-known writers of the Romanian (Ion Pop, Ion Vartic, Mircea Baciu, Mihai Barbulescu, Iulian Boldea, Ioana Bot, Ion Buduca, Ruxandra Cesereanu, Dumitru Chioaru, Al. Cistelecan, Aurel Codoban, Sanda Cordos, Ion Cristofor, Dan Damaschin, Nicolae Diaconu, Mihai Dragolea, Dinu Flamand, Ioan Grosan, Emil Hurezeanu, Vincentiu Iluttiu, Al. Th. Ionescu, Marius Iosif, Ruxandra Ivancescu, Marius Lazar, Virgil Leon, Liviu Malita, Andrei Marga, Stefan Melancu, Virgil Mihaiu, Ciprian Mihali, Ioan Milea, Ion Mircea, Ioan Moldovan, Ion Muresan, Vasile Musca, Mircea Muthu, Nicolae Oprea, Aurel Pantea, Laura Pavel, Ovidiu Pecican, Gheorghe Perian, Marta Petreu, Al. Pintescu, Petru Poanta, Virgil Podoaba, Adrian Popescu, Ioan Simut, Aurel Sorobetea, Traian Stef, Lucian Stefanescu, Mircea Ticudean, Eugen Uricaru, Alexandru Vlad etc.), of the Hungarian (Asztalos Ildikó, Balló Aron, Balogh András, Boér Géza, Bretter Zoltán, Egyed Péter, Gaál György, Hodor Adél, Horváth István, Kereskényi Sándor, Keszthelyi András, Lörincz Csaba, Magyari Tivadar, Néda Zoltán, Németi Rudolf, Rostás Zoltán, Sántha Attila, Szöcs Géza) and even of the German (Georg Aescht, Helmut Britz, Bernd Kolf, Peter Motzan, Klaus Schneider, Maria Schullerus, Anton Seitz, Werner Söllner) cultures. Their emotional relationship with Echinox may function as a powerful logistic means of enhancing the effects of our activity.
Cluj, November 25, 2001 Corin Braga