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Of Crosses, Winged Victories, and Eagles: Commemorative Contests between Official and Vernacular Voices in Interwar Romania

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image of East Central Europe

This essay examines contests between local practices and central institutions over the meaning and cultural practices linked to the nation, focusing in particular on commemorations of the war dead after 1918. The analysis shows that the ability of the state to control how nationalism was celebrated through commemorations of the Great War was by no means determined or even successfully mediated from the center. In fact, local voices in rural settings often had their own rituals for mourning those that died in war and also for commemorating heroism in localized versions of what sacrifice for the nation and mourning heroes might have meant. In discussing vernacular-official contests over commemorating war heroes, this essay will present several important aspects: the relationship between traditional religious symbols and the new secular official symbols in representing nationalism; the relationship between rural and urban settings for understanding the unsuccessful attempts of the state to impose its version of war commemorations; and the relationship between the Romanian majority and other ethnic groups in these contests.


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