Andrei Dan SORESCU
The project examines how, in late-nineteenth-century Romania, a subversive political object transformed the dynamics of nation-building. Brought in by Russian peddlers selling religious icons on transregional routes, engravings of the Russian Tsar in peasants’ homes attracted the attention of political elites and catalysed top-down attempts at nationalising the peasant majority. What happens when the masses are exposed to the ‘wrong’ symbols? How does the paraphernalia of a competing political project travel across borders? Is this necessarily the effect of deliberate subversion? The project contends that approaches framing both national and imperial identity-building as self-contained processes must be put into dialogue with the bottom-up sensibilities of the trans-national, by recovering processes ignored or erased by national historiographies. Moreover, it represents the first step towards an examination of such processes beyond Romania, both in the Balkans and in the broader (global) Russian periphery.