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Directions and priorities
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Directions and priorities in the international historiography

The debates around nationalism that were synthesised in Anthony Smith’s works have put forth the limits of the constructivist theory. The ethno-symbolic paradigm (Anthony D. Smith, Ethno-symbolism and Nationalism: A Cultural Approach. Routledge: 2009) emphasises the fact that modern identities incorporate and further transmit elements of the previous solidarities, preserved by means of myths, rituals and symbols. Therefore, in order to understand the ways in which modern national identities were constructed, pre-modern regional identities, confessional ones, those of certain social or professional groups and even gender related identities must be studied. Modern individuals’ social identity was built using the symbolic resources provided by traditional solidarities. These were re-signified in the context of modern societies and were used for answering to the psychological, ideological or political needs of the people who participated at those solidarities’ reconstruction.

In this general theoretical frame, this project will analyse how modern identities were constructed in Transylvania in the 18th – 19th centuries. This subject has not yet been approached neither from an overall perspective, nor from a comparative one. Only volumes dedicate to some particular aspects have been published, especially in the field of historical imagology. Such works are those signed by Klaus Heitmann, Das Rumänienbild im deutschen Sprachraum, by Köpeczi Béla, Nemzetképkutatás és a XIX. századi román irodalom magyarságképe [Researching national images and the image of Hungarians in 19th century Romanian literature], by Sorin Mitu, National Identity of Romanians in Transylvania, or by Melinda Mitu, Problema românească reflectată în cultura maghiară din prima jumătate a secolului al XIX-lea [The Romanian problem as reflected in the Hungarian culture of the first half of the 19th century]. Besides these books, some volumes that gather partial contributions (Konrad G. Gündisch, Wolfgang Höpken, Michael Markel, eds., Das Bild des Anderen in Siebenbürgen: Stereotypen in einer Multiethnischen Region. Böhlau Verlag: 1998; Trencsényi Balázs et al., Nation-Building and Contested Identities. Regio Books: 2001), as well as an anthology of texts regarding the identitary discourse in a wider geographical area (Trencsényi Balázs, Michal Kopeček, eds., Discourses of Collective Identity in Central and Southeast Europe, vols. 1-4. CEU Press: 2006-2010) also exist.