Interethnic marriages: between an exercise of tolerance and a modern expression of indifference. 1895-2010
Interethnic marriages: between an exercise of tolerance and a modern expression of indifference. 1895-2010
During the second year of the project Interethnic marriages we aimed at achieving three objectives:
Amongst these, only the fulfilment of the first objective implied activities that were meant to be finished during this year, as the activities involved by the second and third objectives will be continued during the following years as well.
- To examine the evolution of the phenomenon of intermarriage in various social, political and cultural contexts;
- To find some explanations for mixed marriages, through life stories collected with the help of interviews;
- To continuously disseminate the project's results.
Objective 1, to examine the evolution of the phenomenon of intermarriage in various social, political and cultural contexts, unfolded on three directions:
The rich researched material has practically generated the first result of these activities, namely the creation of a thematic bibliographic database, referring to both the Transylvanian area and the demographic evolutions from the first half of the 20th century in Europe. The other results, which materialised in the participation with papers at scientific conferences and in published studies, will be inventoried below, when describing the results of the third objective. The examination of the churchly legislation and of the activity of the churches from Transylvania in connection with the studied phenomenon revealed the fact that, after 1895, that is to say after the churches lost their prerogatives regarding the individuals' private life in favour of the state, the former were less active in this domain. In the 19th century, on the other hand, matters such as choosing the priest who officiated the matrimonial union, the baptism and the religious education of the children born into these mixed families or establishing the competence of the matrimonial ecclesiastical courts were situated in the forefront of the interdenominational relations' agenda.
- - Studying the canonical texts, the circulars and the regulations issued by the churchly authority, in different stages of the period had in view;
- - Analysing the juridical texts issued by the state beginning with the year 1895;
- - Analysing the discourse regarding intermarriages present in secondary sources, such as the press, literature, memoirs, correspondence.
Examining the official legislation for a period of over a century has constituted a time-consuming but mandatory activity. The various stages which Romania went through during this interval – parts incorporated into empires, the reorganisation after the war and the legislative unification after 1918, the transition from monarchy to republic, the overthrows and disorders brought by the instauration of the communist regime, the changes after 1989 – have presupposed a rich legislative activity regarding the regulation of private life. Many of these changes have had a profound impact in Transylvania, where, at least until 1945, the relations between the ethnicities inhabiting together were ever-changing due to the political and military events in which the province was involved. No doubt that this type of modifications left their mark on the perception of the intermarriage phenomenon! It was interesting to discover, both from the analysis of legislation and of the complementary sources that have lain at the foundation of the study published on this topic (see infra), that the communist state encouraged mixed marriages in Transylvania up to the point that the decade 1970-1980 can be called, with good reason, "the golden age of intermarriage" in Romania! Never before or after has such a fervour in this respect been recorded!
The third activity presupposed the close examination of published sources, such as Transilvania (Transylvania) or Buletin eugenic şi biopolitic (Eugenic and bio-political bulletin), in order to discover the manner in which intermarriages were reflected in their pages. The literary testimonies and memoirs also describe real demographic behaviours, clichés and prejudice that have decisively influenced the marital market in Transylvania, especially during the last decades of the 19th century. Literature proved to be an extremely important source for this project and we consider that it is enough to cite only Mara, Slavici's heroine, in order to convey the idea concerning mixed marriages as it was exploited in literature: "God knows how much I thought of you, how much I wearied for you, with how much heart I looked after you, and He cannot punish me so harshly. If I saw you dead, all the joy of my life would be lost, but I would say that it also happened to other mothers like me and I would eventually find comfort. But none of my family has defiled their blood!"
Objective 2: To find some explanations for intermarriage, by collecting, through interviews, some life histories, opinions, motivations from the persons directly involved in the investigated phenomenon
The approach from the perspective of life stories allows the researcher to examine the events, actions, norms, values through the eyes of the persons who entered an intermarriage. Through this method we obtain detailed descriptions of the social contexts and understand events and behaviours within the context in which they occurred. Moreover, through this method we obtain narratives about the social and cultural contexts in which marriages between people of different ethnicities and denominations were concluded from the very persons who were directly involved in this phenomenon. Through the interviews conducted we desire to acquire not only accounts of the individuals' own life, but also of the social, economical, political context in which they lived, which has favoured or rendered more difficult the contraction of a marriage with a person of a different ethnicity and denomination.
Constructing the interview guide. An approach from a micro-social perspective permits the investigation of the multiple factors associated with different theoretical perspectives on intermarriage. As the interviews are semi-structured, the interview guide comprises a series of aspects that will be covered, with variants of the questions formulated. But it depends upon each particular situation if the questions are asked in the exact order and format in which they are included in the guide or if the interviewer decides to allow the respondent more freedom, making sure, however, that all the aspects mentioned in the guide are covered.
The interview refers to six large sections of the respondent's life: the existence of other intermarriages within the family, the years during which the respondent's conceptions were shaped (childhood, adolescence), the formation of the couple, the attitudes and behaviours of the two partners' families during the period in which the relation consolidated, the couple's children and the respondent's appreciations of the experience of a mixed marriage. The first and second section depict socialisation practices, characteristics of the familial and social environment in which the individual grew up, the contacts and experience that the respondent had with the other's ethnicity during the period of socialisation. The third section, the formation of the couple, provides information about the importance of cultural similarity in the evolution of interpersonal relations, while the fourth section allows the researcher to document the family's intervention in the process of choosing a partner. By tracing the different stages of the consolidation of the relation between the two partners, one can notice the continuity or change in the family's attitudes and behaviours towards the relation between the son/daughter and a person of a different ethnicity and also the factors that have generated the change (marriage, birth of a child). The fifth section focuses on the mixed couple's choices regarding ethnic, religious and linguistic affiliation of the children born within a mixed marriage. The last section comprises appreciations of the experience of an intermarriage, the manner of dealing with conflicts, the role of cultural differences.
In order to discover both the perspective of the person of the ethnicity that represents the majority and that of the person who belongs to an ethnic minority, we interview both spouses of a mixed couple (separate interviews). We call this couple a "nucleus".
As we are interested in sketching not only the personal and the couple's experience regarding intermarriage, but a history of marriages between different ethnicities and denominations within the extended family, we also interview the respondent's ascendants, namely at least one parent for each side. The interviewing of an ascendant of the nucleus traces the family's reaction and actions when confronted with the fact that the son/daughter chose an intermarriage. If the ascendant is at his or her turn part of a mixed marriage, the interview continues in a similar manner as for the nucleus.
In the case in which the nucleus respondents are of an older age, which excludes the possibility of interviewing an ascendant, a descendant of the couple will be interviewed, if he or she is, at his or her turn, involved in a mixed marriage.
Before the interview actually takes place, the respondent receives a form with information about the interview's purpose and about the confidentiality of the information obtained (the procedure used for ensuring anonymity) and they give their consent to the audio recording of the interview. The interview guide is completed with a short form that collects certain socio-economical characteristics of the respondents.
Identifying the persons who will be interviewed. The selection of the participants started with the social networks of the researchers involved in the project, following that new respondents would be selected through the snowball technique: members of the respondents' social networks. Thus, the lot of interviewed persons is in a continuous construction.
The realisation of the interviews. The first interviews were conducted with persons from the researchers' social networks. According to the initial planning, this activity will continue during the following year as well.
Besides the activities proposed at the beginning of the year at contracting, we have started to create a digital database comprising the intermarriages from the town Cluj in the first half of the 20th century. The information was collected from the civil status registers from the archive of Direcţia de Evidenţa Populaţiei (Directorate for Persons' Records), Cluj-Napoca. The process of collecting the data was rendered more difficult by the interdiction to photograph the transcripts, so the data was entered manually, on the spot, in the institution's offices. Then, as we are referring to a town with over one hundred thousand inhabitants in 1930, an especially large effort was required in order to gather all the necessary information. As it was impossible to realise a complete database, we have selected a representative sample for the interwar period. We have gathered the data regarding the marriages from the town Cluj for the years 1919, 1922, 1930 and 1938 and, in the end, we have obtained a database with over 3,400 marriages, from which almost 1,700 are mixed. Having at our disposal such a documentary database, we have prepared a communication presented at the Congress Cities Through History (Portugal – see infra, objective 3). At the same time, taking advantage of a favourable conjuncture that allowed us to access the data of the Biroul de Evidenţă Informatizată a Persoanelor Cluj we have inventoried the number of intermarriages and that of the marriages with foreigners in Cluj-Napoca for the period 2000-2010, anticipating the activities specific to the last objective of the project and proposed for 2014. The first results of this activity were also presented, as it will be seen below, as a communication at the same Congress entitled Cities Through History.
Objective 3: Disseminating the results.
The dissemination of the results was accomplished through the continuous updating of the project's site, through participations with papers at international scientific conferences, a study published in a collective volume and two ISI studies, as follows:
Our report would not be complete if we did not mention the research stages accomplished during this year: a month each for two of the team's members at the Institute for Social History in Amsterdam and then shorter periods spent at Oslo, Prague, Budapest, Serbia and again Amsterdam. Considering those stated above and having in view the objectives assumed when contracting phase 2012 of the project, we report that the activities proposed for this year of the project were achieved in their entirety.
- Published studies (3):
- Ioan Bolovan, Marius Eppel, "Între stat şi biserică: identitate şi alteritate prin căsătoriile mixte în Transilvania (a doua jumătate a sec. al XIX-lea şi începutul sec. XX)", in In Honorem Alexandru Moşanu. Studii de istorie medievală, modernă şi contemporană a românilor, ed. Nicolae Enciu, Centrul de Studii Transilvane and Presa Universitară Clujeană Publishing Houses, Cluj-Napoca, 2012, pp. 327-336.
- Luminiţa Dumănescu, "The Law of Marriage in Romania, 1890-2010", Transylvanian Review, no. 4/2012 (in press).
- Ioan Bolovan, Elena Daniela Mârza, Bogdan Crăciun, "Mixed Marriages in the City of Cluj (1900-1939) – a sign of peaceful coexistence in troubled times", Transylvanian Review, no. 4/2012 (in press).
- Papers presented at scientific conferences (7):
- Ioan Bolovan, Căsătoriile mixte în Transilvania de-a lungul timpului: între vulnerabilitate demografică şi oportunitate interculturală, presented at the international conference Vulnerabilităţi ale populaţiei în spaţiul românesc în secolele XVII-XXI, organised at Arad in the period 27-29 September 2012 by the "Aurel Vlaicu" University, the Local Council of the town Arad and the "Ştefan Cicio Pop" Association.
- Ioan Bolovan, Daniela Mârza, Bogdan Crăciun, "Mixed Marriages in a Multiethnic and Multiconfessional Environment. A Case Study on the City of Cluj (1900-1939)", presented at the Congress Cities through History – Population, Guimaraes, Portugal, 23-25 October 2012.
- Daniela Mârza, "The Child between the State, the Church and the Family – the Case of Transylvania (1850-1918)", presented at the Ninth European Social Science History conference, Glasgow University, Scotland, Great Britain, 11-14 April 2012;
- Marius Eppel, "In the privacy of the Transylvanian family: Christian rites and popular magical practices (1850-2000)", presented at the 37th Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 1-4 November 2012.
- Luminiţa Dumănescu, "State and Family in Communist Romania", presented at the Ninth European Social Science History conference, Glasgow University, Scotland, Great Britain, 11-14 April 2012.
- Luminiţa Dumănescu, "The Survival of the Mixed Family in the Communist Romania", presented at the International Conference for Academic Disciplines, Florence, Italy, 18-22 June 2012.
- Luminiţa Dumănescu, Mihaela Hărăguş, Viorel Sirca, "A new face for an old town. The marriages with foreigners in Cluj between 1990 and 2010", presented at the Congress Cities through History – Population, Guimaraes, Portugal, 23-25 October 2012.
- The organisation of sessions at international conferences (2):
- Ioan Bolovan, organiser and chairperson of the panel "Mixed marriages in Europe from 16th to 21st centuries: from inhibition to integration" that was part of the conference European Social Science History Conference, Glasgow, 11-14 April 2012.
- Marius Eppel, "Eurasian Families, popular beliefs and religion in comparative perspective", at the 37th Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 1-4 November 2012 (in collaboration with Antoinette Fauve Chamoux, Alice Kasakoff)
- The presentation of the project at meetings within international workshops (1):
- Marius Eppel, "Interethnic marriages: between an exercise of tolerance and a modern expression of indifference. 1895-2010. Project Presentation" at the workshop Implementation of the IDS in Several Databases: Problems and Challenges, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 1 November 2012 (organiser Kees Mandemakers).
Professor Ioan Bolovan, Ph.D.
2011 by Luminita Dumanescu
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