Proposal summary page
The ROMANIAN-EUROPEAN RESEARCH CENTRE for the STUDY
of COLLECTIVE IMAGES, STEREOTYPES and PREJUDICES
REINFORCEMENT OF THE ASSOCIATED CANDIDATE COUNTRIES RESEARCH CAPACITIES
FP6 thematic area addressed:
Citizens and Governance in a knowledge-based society
The Centre for Imagination Studies from Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, the oldest and the largest university in Romania, conducts a research programme on Romanian collective images, stereotypes and prejudices.
The aim of the ROMIMAG project is to improve the research capacities of the Centre, to strengthen its material basis, to enlarge the topic of research at a national level, within the frame of the consortium of the main Romanian universities, and to integrate Romanian scholarship into European research. The research topic, addressing the thematic area Citizens and Governance, will also assist with Romania’s integration into the EC, as it offers an ecological study of the Romanians’ shared ideas, exposing their clichés and misconceptions towards ethnic, gender or religious minorities, as well as towards other European nations.
The ROMIMAG project envisages three sets of activities:
1. Integrating Activities. ROMIMAG will assemble in a research network Romanian scholars who are now working separately. It will also integrate Romania into a European network of similar centres (CRI-GRECO), through exchanges, translations, conferences, symposia, etc. Its final goal is to extend itself from a national (ROMIMAG) to a European FP6 programme (EURIMAG), addressing the images, the stereotypes and the prejudices of all the inhabitants of our continent.
2. Developing a Joint Research Program focused on Romanian collective representations. Based on cultural studies, this interdisciplinary approach consists of ten Workshops (Self images; Images of Eastern and Western Europe; Gender; Historical; Literary; Media; Socio-political; Religious; Visual Arts Representations).
3. Dissemination activities: oral, written and electronic publication. When accomplished, this research will provide the Romanian citizens and public and, more specifically, the NGOs, the civil society, the public institutions and the decision-makers with an analysis of the main trends of Romanian mentalities.
B.1. Objectives of the proposed project
The aim of the ROMIMAG project is to improve the research capacities of Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, Romania, and more specifically of its Centre for Imagination Studies, to strengthen its material basis, to enlarge the topic of research at a national level within the frame of the consortium of the main Romanian universities, and to integrate the specialists from Cluj and Romanian scholarship in general into the European research.
The ROMIMAG programme concentrates on three classes of objectives:
I. Integrating Activities.
II. Research, Teaching and Training Activities.
III. Dissemination Activities.
B.1.1. Integrating Activities
The central objective of “Integrating and Strengthening the European Research Area – Reinforcement of the Associated Candidate Countries’ Research Capacities” is addressed by a set of practical-administrative Integrating Activities:
a. Networking with other research centres in Member States and Associate Candidate Countries. Babes-Bolyai University has a consortium agreement with the other main universities in Romania (Bucharest, Iasi, Timisoara), which allows them to organise joint research and teaching activities. In the ROMIMAG programme, the Centre for Imagination Studies collaborates with similar Centres from these universities and from other universities in Romania (cf. B.4.2 National partners). It will also collaborate with a network of similar centres from Eastern (Bulgaria, Poland, Slovenia, Hungary) and Western (Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Switzerland) countries (cf. B.4.3 European partners). The Centre for Imagination studies is also a member of the CRI-GRECO network (Centres de recherches sur l’imaginaire – Groupe de recherches coordonnées), which has more than 35 laboratories worldwide. Community funding will enable it to participate in the joint activities of this network.
b. Study visits of the researchers from the Centre to other institutions in MS and ACCs and vice-versa, in order to prepare cooperative activities and/or joint RTD proposals. The Centre for Imagination Studies envisages an extension of its joint research programme on collective images, stereotypes and prejudices from a national (Romanian) level to a European level. In order to do this, it will organise a symposium assembling representatives from Centres and Universities in almost all the European countries (cf. WP2). In this symposium, the participants will be invited to join in a network of excellence and to begin the actions for submitting a proposal to the 6th Framework Programme. A draft of this envisaged European programme (called EURIMAG) has already been sent to the partners of the Centre for Imagination Studies in the ROMIMAG programme.
c. Hosting scientists (teachers and researchers) from abroad for teaching, training and research activities. The Centre for Imagination Studies envisages a conference series programme in which it aims to invite ten foreign academics and researchers per year, for a period of three years, to give conferences on the main tendencies and the latest methodologies in the field of the collective representations addressed by the ROMIMAG programme (cf. WP3).
d. Training for post-doctoral researchers and PhD students. The Centre for Imagination Studies has conceived a Senior and Junior Researchers Mobility programme, designed to send scientists form the centre to laboratories abroad, for specialised training. It will so offer the opportunity for 3 MA students, 3 PhD students and 3 academics per year to carry out a three-month research stage in one of the partner centres from Eastern and Western Europe (cf. WP4).
e. Workshops, conferences and seminars meant to disseminate and to enforce the results of the ROMIMAG research. Each of the 10 workshops of the ROMIMAG joint research programme will organise a common seminar open to the public, and a series of conferences (at the initiative of the workshop coordinators), in which they will present a series of talks and papers on the work done by their respective teams (cf. WP1).
f. Hiring of new young researchers to reinforce human potential. In order to stimulate young researchers’ activity and integration into national research, as well as to avoid “brain drain” phenomena, the Centre for Imagination Studies will offer a package of at least 3 assistant researcher positions to the students integrated in the ROMIMAG programme. They will be chosen from the best students currently enrolled in the MA and PhD programmes of the Centre (cf. WP14).
g. Upgrading and renewal of S&T equipment. In order to strengthen its material basis, the Centre envisages at least two activities: a Documentary Sources programme, focused on the acquisition from Western bookshops of a series of volumes that will constitute the scientific library of ROMIMAG network, at the disposal of all the senior and junior network researchers (cf. WP6); and a Durable equipment acquisitions programme, which will offer the Centre the possibility of constructing a digital campus for the electronic dissemination of the ROMIMAG research results (cf. WP7).
B.1.2. Research, Teaching and Training Activities
The objectives of ROMIMAG Integrating Activities are complemented and completed, on a theoretical level, by a Joint Research Programme aiming at establishing a global and comprehensive picture of the Romanian collective images, stereotypes and prejudices concerning the representation of the self and of the others (minorities, neighbours, different European countries, Europe as a whole).
The research subject tackles several topics of the thematic area “Citizens and Governance in a Knowledge-based Society”: New forms of citizenships and cultural identities (European Citizenship and multiple identities; Cultural dialogue and the European Society); Options and choices for the development of a knowledge-based society (Social trends in the knowledge-based society and their implication for quality of life; Social cohesion in the knowledge-based society).
ROMIMAG aims to outline the panorama of the cultural perceptions that Romanians hold about themselves, about their neighbours and about Europe. The image of the self and the image of the others represent core concepts in defining national and group identity, as well as in understanding and assessing responses to complex political issues, such as the construction of the European Community. A successful European integration relies not only on correct economic and political approaches, but also on the good management of collective representations. An “ecological” study of these shared ideas and images should be able to isolate and expose the common stereotypes, clichés, covert misconceptions and prejudices against ethnic, gender, sexual and religious minorities, and against other European nations.
This study of collective representations and misconceptions is of special importance in candidate countries like Romania, which have emerged from a totalitarian political and social system and do not have as yet an established tradition concerning a theoretical consideration and the public instruments of democracy. Moreover, this study is of special interest in the Balkans, a strategic zone of Europe, particularly vulnerable to nationalistic manipulations because of its extremely composite ethnical texture. In order to keep under control and, eventually, to render innocuous the hazards of majority/minority and national outbursts and clashes, social and humanistic sciences should provide politicians and public organisations with analyses of the constellations of images that inform public mentalities, as well as with surveys of the mechanisms and directions of their evolution.
In its current activity, the Centre for Imagination Studies already runs 4 such research programmes (cf. B.4.1 Presentation of the coordinator). A Community funding will enable the ROMIMAG network to enlarge this activity to 10 thematic workshops. Based on cultural studies, this interdisciplinary approach encompasses the main fields of social sciences and humanities.
The workshops are:
Workshop 1. Romanians’ Self-Images
Starting from Romanticism until the first half of the twentieth century, ideologists and philosophers have been trying to identify what they thought to be the essence or the Platonic quintessence of a people, of a nation or of a race. This approach has been thoroughly criticised, especially after the nationalistic ideologies lead to catastrophes such as the Holocaust and the Second World War. In our post-modern era, we know that the idea and the image of a people is a problem of collective representations. Each group and nation has a specific, sometimes incoherent and polemical, image of itself. To offer just an example, Romanians hold about themselves two contradictory images: that they are a very hospitable, welcoming and generous people, and that they are a chauvinistic, primitive and retractile people. Each of these images encloses a very complex constellation of conscious and unconscious reasons and motives that would need a subtle psychoanalysis of the collective mentalities. In order to better understand themselves and maybe to improve their civic and political behaviour, groups and peoples should bring to light the unspoken motivations of their self-representations, to discharge their potential aggressiveness and violent tendencies. This workshop will target from multiple conjugated perspectives the images that different social and professional groups which form the Romanian society have about themselves and about their nation. It will also investigate the different images that Romanians have about national minorities (Hungarians, Gypsies, Jews, etc.) and the correspondent images that these minorities hold about the majority.
Workshop 2. Romanians’ Images of the Others 1 (Romania and the Balkans)
Together with the image of the self, the image of the others is an important element in the construction of the individual and of group identity. This workshop focuses on the representations that Romanians have elaborated about their national neighbours from the ex-Communist countries of South-Eastern Europe. The Balkans provide a very rich material for the work of historians, sociologists and cultural researchers. Situated at the crossroads of several continental empires (Rome, Byzantium, Ottoman, Habsburg, Tsarist and Soviet), this geographical space harboured a veritable ethnic and cultural melting pot, where different religions and civilisations hybridised in the most unexpected ways. However, the complexity of the Balkans has hardly ever been understood in its real and intrinsic implications. For most of the time, both Westerners and local inhabitants have utilised simplified and stereotyped formulas with a depreciatory and misleading effect (“Byzantinism”, “Balkanism”, etc.). A research into the actual psychology of these populations through the images they hold about each other would help a better understanding of the mechanisms of their collective representations. Balkan studies are not only a theoretical discipline, dealing with humanities and arts, they also constitute a sociological and ideological field of research. The investigation of this domain is especially appropriate in this very fragile and unstable zone of Europe, which has remained, as the last fifteen years have unfortunately proved it, a neuralgic space of the continent. It should also be able to change its perception from a hostile to an open one, emphasising the role of a cultural bridge that the Balkans represent between Europe and the Orient.
Workshop 3. Romanians’ Images of the Others 2 (Romania and Central Europe)
This third workshop dedicated to imagology studies complements the two previous ones. After the analysis of the representations that Romanians hold about their neighbours from South-Eastern Europe, this approach will tackle the images of Central and Western Europe. During the past centuries, and especially during Communism and its “iron curtain” that stifled the free circulation of persons, information and values, the West exercised a special influence and fascination on Romanians. The imaginary representations of the West materialized themselves into several sets of clichés and stereotypes spontaneously or ideologically generated, which can be regrouped into two classes, benevolent and hostile. To give just a sample, one of the recent images of the West relies on the myth of the “conspiracy theory”, issued by “crypto-communists” and by other nostalgics of the previous regime. In this trend of interpretation, the “capitalist” influence on Romania is satanised. The malfunctioning and the drawbacks of the Romanian economy and institutions are interpreted as international anti-Romanian “plots” backed by foreign Secret Services. This “conspiracy myth” tries to explain, for example, the mythopolitical continuity between the Yalta (1945) and Malta (1989) political meetings, where the American and the Soviet presidents divided the world into two ideological and political hemispheres. Alternatively, another Post-Communist image of the West is that of a paradisiacal space, of total freedom, where all the human possibilities find their realization. This myth supports, inside the Romanian mentality, the population’s longing for emigrating into the West or its obsession for joining the NATO and the EU.
Workshop 4. Gender Representations
Gender Studies have entered Romanian scholarship only after the fall of the Communist regime and on a rather limited scale (academic curricula are still partially closed to them, for lack of information and specialists). However, a crucial role in spreading this knowledge is played by individual researchers (generally young people having received a university degree in the West) and NGOs depending on external founding. (Still, a special mention deserves the Faculty of European Studies of Babes-Bolyai University, which created a chair of Gender Studies). The scarcity of professional efforts consecrated to Gender Studies reflects a more general unawareness of Romanian society about these issues. Sociological and psychological studies undertaken by professors from the Faculties of Psychology and of Sociology from Babes-Bolyai University have shown that Romanian women find themselves in a very uncomfortable position concerning their sexual identity and behaviour. Rather than their gender role in society, it is the common conception about their personal behaviour in the frame of the family which remains obsolete and patriarchal. For example, the idea and the juridical concept of “familial rape” are hardly conceivable for people of “deep Romania”. A study of the images of women in Romanian culture and society would certainly offer new lights and insights for larger classes of public.
Workshop 5. Historical Representations
It is possible to envisage both a history of the imaginary representations and a study of the imaginary representations of history. For a long period, historiography has been conceived as a panorama of successive political, social, economic, cultural, etc. events, i.e. like an inventory of “objective” data. However, if it is certainly true that individuals and groups respond to external processes and facts, the historical science of the last decades has shown that these processes and facts are always perceived as subjective and internal images. This means that historical representations are modelled by the categories and the values of the imagination. Consequently, several analysts of the historical imaginary have been able to expose the myths, the phantasms and the collective images that presided over the crucial moments of international history, from the French Revolution to the fascist and communist totalitarian regimes. Each nation and national group generates its own image on history. This workshop is dedicated to the collective perception of the Romanians about their own past and about European history.
Workshop 6. Media Representations
The information era we are living in has largely changed our relationship to the world. The revolution of the image and the apparition of the hyperspace have practically constructed a virtual duplicate of the real world, a mirror world that does not necessarily reproduce the exact shape of the original. It is true that media revolution has transformed the globe into a “global village” where everybody is potentially informed about everything is happening anywhere in the world. However, in contrast with the circulation of information in the traditional village, in the “global village” this information is not direct and genuine, but mediated and transformed by image-creators and transporters. In this context, if it is impossible to avoid deformations and manipulations, it is at least reasonable to try to comprehend and expose the mechanisms of deformation and manipulation. What is the difference between life events and shot images, how does advertising influence the perception of the public, how do movies and the star system create contemporary myths and heroes, how does publicity campaigns influence politics, how do different audience groups react to the different ways of “imaginary colonisation”? These kinds of questions should be addressed in order to understand the way the self-images of a people are generated or imposed. In its ambiguous revolution of 1989, Romania and also the world at large experienced a tragic sample of mass manipulation through the media.
Workshop 7. Literary Representations
Literary and visual arts imagination is generally better known than the alternative types of social and cultural imagination. Literary theory has shown that fiction works cluster in several constellations that describe the mood of a social group at a certain moment in history. Comparative literature has been able to pursue the evolution and the transformation through time of different successive esthetical and poetical trends and modes. Nonetheless, it should be highlighted that, however ambitious and vast, these approaches have, for most of the time, a local and national character and seldom envisage the European literature as a whole. The ROMIMAG programme should offer the international public an image of the Romanian literary imaginary in the frame of the larger European movements of ideas and themes. The resulting encyclopaedic volume will be the product of a teamwork focused especially on the main myths of Romanian national identity materialised in fiction writing.
Workshop 8. Socio-political and Ideological Representations
Paralleling the evolution of the media, politics have become an art of convin-cing and manipulating through images. The political, economic and even military powers tend to comply with the power of information. The election campaigns have become < super shows > featuring Misses and Misters sponsored and directed by image-makers. The research of this workshop will focus on the stereotypes of political imagination provided by the ideology, the mass media and the widespread literature in Romania. First and foremost, the relation between history and ideology will be considered, as the ups and downs of the former explain the dynamics of collective psychological response. While Freud interpreted hostility in the everyday life of individuals and groups as an Oedipean complex expressed by mental shifts, Erich Fromm distinguished between ‘positive aggression’, conceived as a natural drive functioning in childhood, adult life and sexual relations, and the ‘negative’ aspect of it, in which hostility is related to depressive and psychopathic personalities. In both cases, enmity is associated with psychogenic illness, except for the psychohistorical perspective, in which the inner or the outer enemy functions as a ‘poison container’, helping the group to cleanse itself from real and imaginary pollution. As such, the project would be methodologically indebted to depth psychology, to psychohistory, taken as bases for an interdisciplinary research including also the fields of imagination studies, political science, and the general historical framework of Cultural Studies.
Workshop 9. Religious Representations
Long before the positivistic and atheistic conception of the world became dominant, different human civilisations and cultures had apprehended the world through various religious visions. Still today, many people who pretend to be unbelievers continue to use magical and religious categories of thinking and representation of the world. Analysts have proved that even contemporary scientism is a diverted and disguised form of religious behaviour. More over, postmodern relativism has taught us the modesty of not judging and rejecting the religious visions of different people of the globe as archaic, obsolete, primitive, etc. Contemporary anthropologists tend to regard religions as self-sufficient and autonomous cognitive systems which engender a complete and functional comprehension of the world, adapted to the conditions of life of the communities that share them. They are alternative models of explaining the universe, which constitute a reservoir of suggestions and solutions that are very useful especially in periods of epistemological crisis. The analysis of religious beliefs is not only necessary for conserving the cultural diversity of the different people entering the European Community (and Romania has a rich heritage to offer to Europe), but it also constitutes a kind of anthropological practice for people who want to remain open to multiple points of view. The contemporary era of globalisation challenges people with multiple perspectives of the world. Anthropology, ethnology and the history of religions could be used as instruments for training contemporary people as “multiple subjects”.
Workshop 10. Visual Arts Representations
As for the literary representations, the evolution of European art, from Antiquity and the Middle Ages to Modernity and Postmodernity has benefited from extensive and sound research. Nevertheless, European scholarship has not yet been able to reconstruct the complex system of influences and transmissions that permeate and irrigate the whole European cultural space. A trans-disciplinary workteam, and later a multinational team should be capable of drawing up the global picture of the relationships between the various national art movements. Using powerful conceptual tools as those of semantic basin, streaming, partition, confluences, etc. created by Gilbert Durand and by other analysts of the imaginary, the paradigms of the European visual arts can be uncovered in their mutual historical evolution.
As such, the Joint Research Programme will comprise three types of activities:
a. Research. The coordinator of each thematic workshop, in agreement with the ROMIMAG Executive Committee, will conceive a research plan, a methodology, and will build a team of collaborators and contributors to the workshop. Each of the ten work teams will comprise between 20-30 researchers, from the main universities in Romania and from other specialized institutions throughout the country. The workshop teams will consist of two main categories: a group of senior researchers from the Romanian intellectual elite, who have expertise and authority in their respective fields; a group of doctoral students and graduate junior researchers, who will work under the supervision of the coordinator and of the senior researchers.
b. Teaching. The research activity is conceived in synergic interaction with education, teaching and training. As the participants in the thematic workshops and other activities of the programme are university professors, they will be able to teach their findings in:
- Undergraduate courses in Gender Studies, Political Sciences, History, Comparative Literature, European Studies, Journalism, etc.
- Master programmes, such as those organised by the Centres in Cluj (History of Images – History of Ideas) and Bucharest (History of the Ideas and of the Mentalities). Topics drawing from the workshops will be also assigned for master dissertations.
- Doctoral courses and doctoral theses inspired from the research thematic.
c. Training. The formation and training of specific skills needed for research and administrative work is also a means of spreading the know-how and the experience gained within the ROMIMAG network. Junior researchers and graduate students participating in the ROMIMAG programme will be trained in:
- Doing research work
- Participating in teams and joint programmes
- Acquiring specific scientific methodologies
- Conceiving and writing team contributions
- Constructing electronic databases
- Utilising and mastering the websites from the digital campus
- Translating academic works into Romanian
B.1.3. Dissemination Activities
The strategy for spreading the knowledge and the awareness resulting from the ROMIMAG programme consists of several main actions:
a. “Written” publication.
- A ten-volume Encyclopaedia of the Romanian collective representations, representing the outcome of the research conducted by the ten thematic workshops (cf. WP8).
- Individual volumes of the scholars participating in the programme. The Centre for Imagination Studies in Cluj is currently publishing a book collection called “Mundus Imaginalis” at Dacia Publishing House; the partner centres have their own collections or publishing arrangements (cf. WP9).
- A series of translations (30 titles) of the main volumes from the international professional bibliography, hosted by “Mundus Imaginalis” (cf. WP5 and WP9).
- A series of translations (12 titles) into English of the main volumes of the Romanian scholars associated with ROMIMAG, to be published by a European editing house (cf. WP5).
- Special thematic issues of the academic reviews of the Centres and the Universities participating in ROMIMAG. The Centre for Imagination Studies in Cluj collaborates closely with the Echinox Cultural Foundation, which publishes two reviews, The Echinox Journal (a bi-annual book-form journal consisting of thematic issues of about 300 pages each, with texts in Romanian, English, French, Hungarian, German, or Italian), and with the Echinox review (a classical paper quarterly of the students from Babes-Bolyai University) (cf. WP10).
- Individual studies and papers in other Romanian academic and cultural reviews (we have access to practically all the best-known Romanian reviews).
- Contributions to Western collective volumes and academic journals (the CRI-GRECO network, for example, currently publishes several such journals).
b. Electronic publication. The databases of the workshops, the electronic documents of the papers and studies, as well as current information about the activities of ROMIMAG will be published on a central digital campus, which, for the time being, gathers three websites:
- The website of the Centre for Imagination Studies: www.lett.ubbcluj.ro/~phantasma
- The website of the Echinox Cultural Foundation: www.lett.ubbcluj.ro/~echinox
- The website of the D Media Student Association (“45 Years of Communism in Romania”):www.comunism.ro
When ROMIMAG starts functioning, the digital campus will offer links to all the Romanian Centres participating in the programme and to its European partners (cf. WP11).
- CD-ROM and DVD presentations of the research work.
c. “Oral” dissemination.
- Press conferences (cf. WP12).
- Public meetings and debates with leaders and members of student associations and unions, with NGOs and civil society institutions, and with political and governmental representatives and other decision-makers (cf. WP12).
- Conferences delivered by Romanian scholars and European academic guests (cf. WP3).
- Open sessions of the thematic workshops (cf. WP1).
- Seminars organised by the directors of the workshops (cf. WP1).
- An international conference, gathering the directors of the European centres and representatives from practically all the countries of the continent, meant to prepare the construction of a European Network (EURIMAG) and of a Consortium (for an Erasmus Mundus international master) (cf. WP2).
In order to ensure the resources and the high level of competence necessary for its success, the ROMIMAG programme is based on a research network that gathers together the main Romanian universities, including their personnel, their equipment, and their financial and logistic capital; within these universities it links together complementary centres, faculties and departments, which allows for a trans-disciplinary ‘crisscrossing’ approach. We shall present the members of the network in order of the degree and importance of their implication in the programme.
B.4.1. The co-ordinator.
B.4.2. National partners.
B.4.3. European partners
B.4.1. The co-ordinator:
The Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj - The Centre for Imagination Studies (director Corin Braga)
ROMIMAG is a programme conceived, designed and coordinated by the Centre for Imagination Studies of Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj. The Centre for Imagination Studies is a laboratory for studying social and cultural imaginary representations. Its creation starts from the premise that the majority of academic disciplines deal only with our rationalistic and positive ego, but completely ignore our imaginary and unconscious personality. In order to explore the individual and collective representations, the Centre uses several up-to-date methodologies and approaches (active and participative research, focus groups, etc.). In the postmodern age, research conducted into the imaginary representations plays a crucial role as regards:
1. The deconstruction of social-political “mythologies”. The analysis of the imaginary is a powerful deconstruction device targeted at ideological, political and social stereotypes and clichés. Aware of the development of today’s world into a “global village”, and starting from the assumption that media images are not perceptive, direct, but “imaginative,” processed, transformed, we analyse images as they are engendered by the written press, by the advertising and movie industries, by cable and satellite television, the internet, etc. Research into the imaginary is essential to understanding the way images affect social groups and collective mentalities, especially in an age when the unprecedented expansion of the visual culture gives vent to a series of subliminal – ideological and political – manipulations of the public.
2. The reconstruction of the postmodern subject. The postmodern individual has to cope with the increasing celerity of contemporary life, i.e. with the schizophrenic necessity of being aware or even being present to diverse actions that occur in different places simultaneously. One has to find a way to develop a new and very demanding identity. But traditional logos and rationality offer only the model of an integrated homogenous subject. The reconstruction of a polymorphous subject should use the psychological techniques of the imaginary in order to unite and to keep together the divergent tendencies the postmodern subject has to deal with. Imagination studies have developed an entire range of extremely efficient analytical methods and instruments, which contribute to constructing a hermeneutics of the cultural imaginary from an intrinsic perspective. Our long-term project is to combine these methods with active and focus-group research.
Objectives. Through its components and programs presented below, the Centre aims at:
1. Conducting research on topics pertaining to the cultural-artistic, social/political and media imaginary (to be undertaken by academics, PhD and MA students, undergraduates)
2. Including the research areas into the academic curriculum (courses and seminars at the graduate level), as well as in the scientific workshops supervised by the Centre
3. Publishing the results of this research (either in books or in the printed and electronic journals edited by the Centre)
B.4.2. National Partners
The main universities in Romania (Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi and Timisoara) have since the 1990s been integrated under a consortium agreement. This means that all the accords and contracts needed for the functioning of a Romanian network are already enforced and that the ROMIMAG programme can use these existing facilities.
B.4.2.1. The University of Bucharest
While Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj is historically the oldest institution of higher education in Romania, the University of Bucharest has the privilege of being situated in the capital of the country and of drawing together, as such, the very elite of Romanian intellectuals living in Bucharest. It enjoys considerable national and international prestige, acquired over almost 140 years. Its various departments and institutes are renowned for their activities in all the major scientific and academic domains. The University of Bucharest offers a wide array of courses at all the levels of higher education: 22 short-duration programmes, over 60 long-duration programmes, 12 long-duration distance-learning programmes, over 100 MA degrees and advanced study programmes, over 50 doctoral programmes, advanced postgraduate programmes, and programmes of professional conversion and perfection. It is integrated in a strong network of international research, including over 100 bilateral collaboration agreements with universities from over 40 countries, and participates in several European academic programmes (Erasmus, Lingua, Naric, Leonardo da Vinci, UNICA, AMOS, TEMPUS, TEMPRA, etc). The University of Bucharest is one of the most important centres of scientific research in the country. There are over 50 institutes, departments and research centres functioning within the University, most of which conduct joint research with similar centres in other countries. The Bucharest partner of the Centre for Imagination Studies in Cluj is:
The Centre for the History of the Imaginary
The Centre for the History of the Imaginary was created in 1993 and is directed by Professor Lucian Boia from the Faculty of History in Bucharest. Its objective is to organise research teams in the fields of the collective imagination and of the history of ideas and representations. It lays special emphasis on political and historical “mythologies”, on the problems of group and national identities, and on the public images of the others. The MA degree programme associated with the Centre has an interdisciplinary character, linking history to other domains such as anthropology, sociology, psychology and literature. Its main topics are: the characteristics of modern civilization; the formation of the European elites; the relationship between history and cinema; catastrophic climatic scenarios and theories from Antiquity to the modern times; new directions in international historiography, etc. The PhD degree programme run by the Centre is focused on the History of Ideas and of mentalities. In collaboration with several Romanian and European centres, such as New Europe College in Bucharest and the “Centre de recherches sur l’imaginaire” in Grenoble, the Centre for the History of the Imaginary has organised common symposia and conferences, and has published volumes such as L’Ile (1999), Nation et nationalisme en Europe Centrale et de Sud-Est (2002), L’Imaginaire des Points cardinaux (2003). Its scientific staff rallies well-known Romanian academics and researchers such as Zoe Petre, Andrei Pippidi, Mirela Murgescu, Aurora Liiceanu, Adrian Cioroianu, Simona Corlan-Ioan (who is the executive director of the Centre).
B.4.2.2. The University of Craiova
The “Mircea Eliade” Centre of Studies on the Imaginary and Rationality
Situated at the core of the historical region of Oltenia, the University of Craiova is a well established institution of higher education in Romania, ranking among the top Romanian Universities (together with those in Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi and Timisoara).
The “Mircea Eliade” Center of Studies on the Imaginary and Rationality is a research unit associated with the Department of Philosophy of the University of Craiova. It was inaugurated on November 4, 1998, in the presence of a group of professors from the Bourgogne University in Dijon, and it started its activity in the autumn of 1999, by organizing conferences in the fields of philosophy, aesthetics and image theory. The centre is a multi-focal structure which edits publications and organizes symposia and seminars on the role of the imaginary and rationality in the creation of philosophical, scientific and artistic works. Its panel consists of program supervisors and researchers from the faculties of History, Philosophy, Geography, Law, Letters, as well as from other similar faculties and centres in Romania and abroad, such as the “Gaston Bachelard” Centre from the University of Dijon.
Director: Assoc. Prof. Ionel Buse
Scientific committee: Academy Prof. Gheorghe Vladutescu, vice-president of the Romanian Academy; Prof. Jean-Jacques Wunenburger, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Lyon, co-president of the “Gaston Bachelard” Research Centre on the Imaginary and Rationality of Dijon; Prof. Maryvonne Perrot, co-president of the “Gaston Bachelard” Centre; Prof. Ramona Boca-Bordei, University of Dijon; Prof. Ion Ceapraz, University of Craiova.
Programme and publication coordinators:
The imaginary and rationality: Ionel Buse – Symbolon and Caietele Mircea Eliade
Philosophy of science: Ion Ceapraz and Catalin Stanciulescu – Logos
Political philosophy: Marian Buse
Studies on Gaston Bachelard: Sonia Cuciureanu – Caietele Gaston Bachelard
The imaginary of the surrealism: Ioan Lascu – Caietele suprarealismului
Literature of the minorities: Dana Dumitriu – Carrefour des langues, carrefour des littératures
Literature and the imaginary: George Popescu, Geo Constantinescu, Victor Buciu
History: Doru Liciu, Sorin Damean - Istorie si imaginar (History and the Imaginary)
Translators: Victor Olaru, Ioan Lascu, Dorin Ciontescu, Laurentiu Ciontescu-Samfireag, George Popescu, Geo Constantinescu, Simina Badea, Dorina Panculescu
International partners: Jean-Jacques Wunenburger, Maryvonne Perrot, Ramona Boca-Bordei, Jean Libis, Dragomir Costineanu, Sorin Alexandrescu, Eric Emery, Jean-Pierre Sirroneau, Chantal Delsol, Jean-Luc Narbonne, Giselle Vanhese, Alain Pessin, Danielle Rocha Pitta, Luciano Maia, Jacques Thiers.
B.4.2.3. The West University in Timisoara
The West University in Timisoara ranks among the largest universities in Romania and has a consortium agreement with the universities in Bucharest, Cluj and Iasi. Situated in the westernmost city of Romania, the very place the Romanian revolution of 1989 spread from, it is renowned for its open and innovative spirit, and its aims of integration into the Western civilisation. It has a series of Faculties: Mathematics and Computer Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Geography, Letters, History and Theology, Sociology and Psychology, Economic Sciences and Law, Political Sciences, Philosophy and Communication Studies, Visual Arts, Music and Sports, and a series of research centres and programmes such as: the Centre for Studies in History and Archaeology in Timisoara (CSIATIM), the Centre for Francophone Studies (CEFTIM), The Romanian Institute for Adults’ Education (IREA), The Laboratory for Crystallographic Measurements (LDCCS), etc. A group of academics from The West University also form a research team organised as:
The “Third Europe” Foundation in Timisoara
“The Third Europe” Foundation is an apolitical and non-profit, non-governmental organisation, whose aim is to contribute towards reforming the academic and cultural life in Romania and promoting intercultural civic values and community solidarity based on the values of pluralism.
The objectives of “The Third Europe” Foundation are:
1. Research. The interdisciplinary and multiethnic work groups of “The Third Europe” Foundation undertake research projects deploying comparative theoretical and applied study approaches in the following domains: cultural studies, history, anthropology, political science, and gender studies.
2. Editing. The editing programmes of “The Third Europe” Foundation offer to the public, specialists and authorities several series of specialised publications: thematic anthologies, encyclopaedic works, workbooks, case studies, information materials, sociological surveys, etc.
3. Civic education. TOC is an independent education institution within the Third Europe Foundation, whose aim is to contribute to reforming the Romanian higher education system, by providing alternative and innovative solutions.
4. Information. “The Third Europe” Foundation provides the public with relevant resources concerning Central and South-Eastern Europe, in different forms: libraries, audio-video and multimedia archives, databases, Internet collections.
5. Assessment and consultancy. “The Third Europe” Foundation offers services of consultancy and assessment concerning multi-ethnic and religious communities to the interested institutions and to both governmental and non-governmental organisations.
The five programmatic objectives of “The Third Europe” Foundation are carried out within two institutional frames: The Centre for Comparative Central and South-East European Studies and The House of Central and South-Eastern Europe. Both of them branch into institutional sub-structures. Within the Centre functions Timisoara Open College (TOC) and “The Third Europe” Institute. The House of Central and South-eastern Europe includes the information unit (library, archive, data base), the Observatory for Regional Policies and Travers (the area for public events: debates, seminars, conferences, workshops, etc.).
This organisational structure is module-based and flexible. Thus, the formative projects are supported and continued by means of a high-level research activity, which involves the teachers and graduates of Timisoara Open College. In its turn, research has an inherent formative dimension: it is done in multiethnic work groups, promoting dialogue by means of interdisciplinary and comparative approaches. The results of this double action (formation and research) materialise in the editing and publishing activity of the Foundation, as well as in its capacity to offer substantial material for information and consultancy to the general public, to governmental and non-governmental organisations, and to the local administration. Most of the activities of the Foundation take place in The House of Central and South-eastern Europe and are addressed to the mass-media, to regional policy makers, and to the leaders of ethnical and religious communities through the Observatory for DKMT Regional Policies and Practices programme (open seminars, colloquia, workshops, conferences, etc.).
The Centre for Imagination Studies in Cluj has expertise in the study of the socio-political and cultural-literary images and representations; it also has a programme on Balkan studies; its academic partners from Babes-Bolyai University pool in their proficiency in gender and media studies; the Centre for the History of the Imaginary in Bucharest contributes with historical and ideological expertise; the Excellency Centre for the Study of Images in Bucharest focuses on visual arts and advertising images; the “Mircea Eliade” Centre of Studies on the Imaginary and Rationality in Craiova covers the fields of philosophy and of the history of religions; the “Third Europe” Institute in Timisoara is specialised in Central European studies and in “imagology” (i.e. the image of the others); the other partners will also contribute new insights and thematic and methodological points of view.
Individual complementarities and excellence:
The coordinators of the ten thematic workshops also have scientific and professional expertise and skills that complement each other. Assoc. Prof. Ruxandra Cesereanu, the proposed coordinator of the workshop on the Romanians’ self-images, has distinguished herself in this field, publishing an important book about the “Violent Imaginary of the Romanians”. She has also published books on “The Image of the Communist Gulag in Romanian Culture” and on “Torture in the Twentieth Century,” and has edited several volumes about the social minorities in Romania (prostitutes, people with physical disabilities, homeless people, shelters for abandoned children, asylums for old people, etc.). Professor Mircea Muthu, the proposed coordinator of the first workshop on Romanians’ images of the others (Romania and South-Eastern Europe), has dedicated a thirty-five-year research activity to the cultural image of the Balkans and has published eight volumes on these topics, concluding with the scholarly trilogy “Balkanism”. Adriana Babeti, the coordinator of the second workshop on Romanians’ images of the others (Romania and Central Europe), as the leader of the very dynamic research group “The Third Europe”, has an extensive experience and competence in the analysis of the relationships between Romanians and other nations from Central Europe. Professors Mihaela Mudure and Eniko Magyar-Vincze, alternatively assigned to run the workshop on gender representations, are well-known Romanian scholars in feminist studies. The coordinator of the workshop on historical representations, Professor Lucian Boia, the director of the Centre for the History of the Imaginary in Bucharest, is an international specialist in the field, with several volumes on these topics published abroad, in French and in English. As professors of journalism studies, both Miruna Runcan and Doru Pop, the proposed coordinators of the workshop on media representations, have a thorough expertise in the field of public images. The proposed coordinator of the workshop on literary representations of the others, Assoc. Prof. Ioana Both, has already published several books and scholarly studies on the collective myths and stereotyped images conveyed by Romanian literature. Professor Stefan Borbely, the head of the workshop on socio-political representations, is well known in Romania as an analyst of the political imagination of the Communist period, and he has introduced the methodology of psychohistory into Romanian scholarship. Assoc. Prof. Ionel Buse, the proposed coordinator of the workshop on religious representations, is the founder and director of an institute dedicated to the analysis of the philosophical and religious imaginary. Finally, Assoc. Prof. Corin Braga, the founder and the director of the Centre for Imagination Studies and the designer of the ROMIMAG programme, has published several books, in Romanian and in French, on the literary, mythical and philosophical imagination.
Each of the coordinators, as well as the other scholars on the panels and boards of the network, have a high level of competence in terms of professional qualifications and research experience. Besides the scientific expertise, they have also sufficient authority and “savoir faire” in order to gather in their research teams the best Romanian specialists in their respective fields.
B.4.3. European partners
The ROMIMAG network also comprises a series of European partners:
1. Michel de Montaigne University, Bordeaux 3, France
Laboratoire pluridisciplinaire de recherches sur l’imaginaire appliquées a la littérature (LAPRIL)
Director : Prof. Gerard Peylet
2. The University of Minho, Braga, Portugal
Centre de Recherche en Éducation (CIEd)
Director: Prof. Alberto Filipe Ribeiro de Abreu Araújo
3. The Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Pasts, Inc. – Center for Historical Studies
Director: Prof. Sorin Antohi
4. The Oetvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary
Centre Interuniversitaire d’Etudes et de Recherches sur l’Europe (CIERE)
Director: Prof. Csákó Mihály
5. The University of Geneva, Switzerland
Institut Européen de l’Universite de Geneve (IEUG), Groupe de travail sur les imaginaires européens
Coordinator : Dr. Stella Ghervas
6. The Jagellonian University, Krakow, Poland
Equipe de recherche sur l’imaginaire symbolique (ERIS)
Director: Prof. Barbara Sosien
7. The University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Etnologija pri Znanstvenem Institutu
Prof. Bojan Baskar
8. Loughborough University, UK
Communications Research Centre (CRC)
Assoc. Prof. Sabina Mihelj
9. The Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium
Centre de Recherche sur l’Imaginaire
Director: Myriam Watthee-Delmotte
10. Jean Moulin University, Lyon 3, France
Faculte de philosophie
Doyen: Prof. Jean-Jacques Wunenburger
11. Libera Universita di Lingue e Comunicazione, Milano, Italy
Istituto di arti, culture e letterature comparate
Assoc. Prof. Renato Boccali
12. The University of Perpignan, France
Voyages, Echanges, Confrontations, Transformations (VECT)
Prof. Joel Thomas
13. The New University of Bulgaria, Sophia
Department of new Bulgarian studies
Assoc. Prof. Boyan Manchev
While the Romanian partners are directly involved in the Joint Research programme, complementing themselves in a multidisciplinary approach that gathers the elite of Romanian scholarship in respective fields of research, the European partners are implicated only indirectly in the research topic (forcefully, the domain of Romanian imaginary should be tackled firstly by Romanian researchers), providing the methodologies, the bibliographies and the learning needed for consistency with European human sciences.
A consortium agreement has not been established between the European partners; however, during the international symposium that ROMIMAG will organise in order to propose and to prepare the creation of the EURIMAG network, the construction of a consortium will be envisaged.
As a global appreciation, it should be said that, in the present state of affairs, the Centre for Imagination Studies in Cluj and its counterparts in Romania have reached a critical mass of complexity, sophistication, know-how and resources, and that a Community grant will allow them to enter in a fusion process, creating ROMIMAG. After this is accomplished, the Romanian network will find itself on a second threshold, that of reaching the critical mass for producing a chain reaction, which would result in a European network: EURIMAG.