Peasant Cultures in their Dynamics

Peasant Cultures in their Dynamics is a line of research that focuses on aspects of peasant culture in their historicity. It documents the reproduction of institutions, domains, practices, customs or phenomena that are part of what is generically termed ‘tradition’, perceived, in the footsteps of Richard Handler and Jocelyn Linnekin (1984), as a dynamic process, in which there is continuity and change. This programme includes studies of different ethnic groups and studies of traditional phenomena and aspects, in its institutional and non-institutional forms.

Research projects within this programme are: Dynamics of customs, with monitoring of some local ceremonial and ritual practices in several regions: masked customs (customs of Christmas, New Year, as well as of the Shrovetide – e.g. Cucii din Brănești (The Cuckoos of Brănești); customs related to Easter time: Easter customs, Paștele Blajinilor (The Easter of the Gentle Ones) ; spring customs, such as the Ploughman’s, the Sheep’s Gathering/Measuring of Milk; or summer customs: the Căluș (the little horse; documented in consecutive years, and in 2014 a film was even made, in collaboration with DigiWorld), the custom of the Nedei (country feasts); but also the customs of remembering the dead (Moșii de vară, Moșii de toamnă etc.).

Then there is the project involving the documentation of traditional agricultural practices, which focuses in particular on the issues of hay cultivation (see also MARTOR no. 21/2016) and the maintenance of semi-natural grasslands through interdisciplinary field documentation, with a specific working methodology (explained in detail here). In dialogue with practices related to hay management are also the researches dedicated to contemporary herding systems, with field documentations in the areas of Dobrogea and Transylvania (see also the exhibition The sheep road, the last episode?), or the highlighting of researches on the agrarian problem in the whole South-East European region (see MARTOR nr. 19/2014). Last but not least, this project also includes the documentation of the Sadova-Corabia irrigation system.

The dynamics of peasant cultures are also captured in the project concerning the anthropology of food – see also the exhibition “Buruieni biruitoare (Conquering weeds) –, or in research on the anthropology of success – see MARTOR no. 16/2011; or the exhibition made in collaboration with the Romanian Cultural Institute and the Museum of European Cultures – Berlin, Minunata lume nouă – Case ale migrantilor români (Wonderful new world – Houses of Romanian migrants).

Also included in this programme are research projects dedicated to the heritage of national minorities in Romania, such as the theme of early marriages among Roma (see the exhibition Tokmeala), which can be read more extensively in MARTOR magazine (no. 25/2020).

Within this wider programme dedicated to documenting the contemporary village, field documentation in targeted areas has also been organised in the framework of externally funded projects, such as the “GeoSust” project funded by EEA Granta and the Ministry of National Education, project coordinated by the Institute of Geodynamics “Sabba Ștefănescu”, in which researchers from the National Museum of the Romanian Peasant were involved in documenting the intangible heritage of the northern region of Buzău county, the future geopark Ținutul Buzăului (see also the exhibition “Ținutul Buzăului. Views, places, stories”).