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
Sintetic report 2011-2013
Belonging to an ethnic or religious community, inherited or assumed, is an important element of human identity. In a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional area, this belonging determined, often under the influence of historical and political factors, an adversative and concurential reference to the "other."
This is the case of Transylvania, a distinct region of nowadays Romania. Since the Middle Ages, other ethnic groups had settled there, next to the native Romanians: Hungarians, Germans, Jews, Armenians, Serbs, Slovaks, Gypsies and others. This ethnic complexity has been doubled by a religious one, through six confessions: Orthodox, Greek-Catholic, Protestant, Roman-Catholic, Evangelic and Jewish.
Until the First World War Transylvania was almost exclusively administrated both at central and local administrative levels by Hungarians and Germans, the Romanians being excluded from the political and administrative life of the province, although they were its oldest and most numerous population.
After 1918 Transylvania became a part of Romania and the new government from Bucharest was confronted with the complex ethnic and confessional realities from Transylvania, where Romanians represented 60% of the total population, and the new formed state had serious problems with integration of different minorities, such as Hungarians, Germans, Jews and others. The union between Transylvania and Romania changed the meaning of majority and minority notions. Similar to the situation prior to 1918, Romanians were the most numerous inhabitants of Transylvania but they were involved in the Romanian administration since the Hungarian minority had lost the political and administrative monopole and also its privileged statute.
The World War II brought new trauma for all inhabitants as a result of Diktat of Vienna in 1940, which divided the Transylvanian territory between Romania and Hungary. The communist regime has tried, after 1945, to level all social and ethnic roughness, but succeeded only partially due to the exacerbation of nationalism, especially during Nicolae Ceausescus regime. This situation has repeatedly generated, even until contemporary times, tensions and conflicts among different ethnics and confessions that lived in Transylvania, often accompanied by violent manifestations, destructions, loss of human lives from both parties in conflict.
Over the centuries, his ethic and confessional diversity shaped certain demographical behaviours. Beyond confrontations - often occurred from ideological reasons - between the Romanians, Hungarians, Germans, Jews and other people there were specific moments when they fought and built together, became relatives and had assumed a common destiny.
Mixed marriages represent such a meeting area - these are, in our vision, a space where the ethnic and confessional diversity acts in its positive and integrator aspects, generating social cohesion, a space where those involved accept each other as equal partners, through the harmonization of the differences between them.
The ethnicities and denomination in Transylvania were researched, analysed, evaluated for centuries in terms of conflictual relations and the main conclusion was that there are too many differences, too many disputes potentially dangerous for the stability of the area. We have seen in mixed marriages potential bridge between ethnic groups and denominations have proposed a project on population size, historical and sociological whose purpose is precisely to highlight the character of "bridge" meeting area that I had marriages joint between said time limits. We tried also to provide some theoretical perspectives that goes beyond strictly local nature of the analyses that have been made so far on the subject .
The first objective of the project was the discovery of the phenomenon of mixed marriages in Transylvania in the period 1890 - 1910 given the different historical, political and cultural. Under this objective we developed the following objectives:
-Estimating the impact of various historical events on the evolution of mixed marriages (peaceful period compared with periods of social and political turmoil and revolutionary movements);
- Study influences dominant ideologies in one period or another
Identify elements of the intermarriage of secular and religious law;
-Analysis the coverage of collective mentality about mixed marriage (portrayed in the media, literature, memoirs, ethnographic sources etc.) .
To achieve these we stripped the entire collection of the Historical Bibliography of Romania, we summarized and selected for analysis dozens of periodicals, Romanian, German and Hungarian literature, we have read and reviewed the literature of the time, we analysed the ecclesiastical and the civil law. The results of these activities were presented at national and international conferences and published in book form (in 2011 ) and articles in international journals (in 2012)
In terms of historical and cultural context we followed three main directions in research:
First, we analysed the position of the Evangelical Church in Transylvania on the issue of mixed marriages, after the introduction of civil law. Two collections of periodicals, edited by ecclesiastical authority Lutheran (Kirchliche Jahrbuch für die Blätter and Vertretung und Verwaltung der evangelischen Landeskirche AB in Siebenbürgen) were analysed in this respect. In terms of official position, we discovered one single public attitude on mixed marriages, the 1932, when some changes on the Matrimonial Code, entered into force in 1870, were operated. On the other hand, in the two publications above mentioned occurred many references to the interfaith and interethnic marriages, without reflecting an official position but appreciation of personalities belonging to the Lutheran community.
Secondly, we have begun to inventory the references to intermarriages from the literature meant to disseminate general information (Kronstädter Kalender, Kalender des Siebenbürger Volksfreundes and others), as well as those from the German-language press (Siebenburgisch-Deutsches Tageblatt).
Thirdly, we have begun gathering the bibliographical material for a study regarding the evolution of mixed marriages in an urban context (the case of the town Cluj). In the same context, we have started to accumulate archival material about the interwar period. We are referring to the collections of civil status registers, kept in the archive of Direcția de Evidență a Persoanelor (the Directorate for Persons' Records), Cluj-Napoca, from which, up to this moment, we have researched the marriage records for the period 1919-1922. The partial conclusion drawn after examining these files suggests the large proportion of mixed marriages in the town Cluj. During this period, over 50% of approximately 1,000 marriages per year recorded in the documents of civil evidence involved a partner with a different denomination.
As for studying the civil legislation regarding intermarriages we had in view the contouring of the general legislative framework that governed the matrimonial life of Transylvania and Romania, by using Romania's Legislative Annuals, the Decisions of the Council of Ministers or those of the Great National Assembly, which are all preserved at the Romanian Academy Library from Cluj. It is known that separate legislations have functioned in the two parts of the country until 1943. Up to the birth of the modern unitary national state after World War I, the legislators and laws were different for the intra- and extra-Carpathian areas. Even after this moment, regardless of the institutional and legislative unification which occurred during the 20's, separate laws have functioned in matters of civil life. In Transylvania, for instance, the Civil Laws of 1894 remained in effect until 1943 and only the articles that concerned the documents of civil status were abrogated. The Civil Code, which was in force since 1865 in the extra-Carpathian area, was introduced in Transylvania by Ion Antonescu in 1943, at the height of the war, and remained in use until the Communist authorities elaborated the Family Code (1954). It is only after 1943 that we can talk about the same legislation in matters of civil life on both sides of the Carpathians.
During the second year of the project Interethnic marriages we aimed at achieving three objectives:
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.
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.
Objective 1, to examine the evolution of the phenomenon of intermarriage in various social, political and cultural contexts, unfolded on three directions:
-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.
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.
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 și 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 Direcția de Evidența Populației (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 Evidență 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.
In 2013, due to the budget cuts , we decided to keep intact the research activities, giving up most of mobility and reducing - hopefully temporary - salaries of the team members. Thus, according to the assumed schedule, we conducted interviews remaining - up to 100 - with people who were enrolled within our project. In January we hired for six months three research assistants whose role was to transcribing interviews collected in the project. Currently working on final checks uptake Atlas.ti program transcripts (purchased in 2012) so that in the coming months to get to the interpretation of these interviews and dissemination through articles.
Also this year, between May and 9 June, we organized an international conference on the project Intermarriage throughout History, attended by 66 specialists - 27 foreigners (Bulgaria , Hungary, Austria , Poland , Germany , France, Italy , Spain, Russia , Norway , Portugal, Peru , Mexico, Japan, Algeria, Uruguay) . Organized under the tutelage of the International Committee of Historical Demography the conference was a real success (worth to mention that we managed to support all costs without attaining the project budget) and some of the materials presented, selected in a peer-review process, are going to be published in early 2014 at Cambridge Scholar Publishing (UK). From the project team three papers were presented and all of them are going to be published.
Due to budgetary restrictions team members participate in international conferences outside Romania is reduced to the following :
1. Marius Eppel, The crisis of confessionally mixed families in Transylvania as linked to the provisions of the ecclesiastic legislation (19th-20th centuries), session Family crises related to changes in legislation (organizer Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux), to 38th Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association, Organizing Powers, Chicago, IL, November 21-24, 2013.
2. Marius Eppel, Les mariages interethniques: entre l'exercice de la tolérance et de l'expression moderne de l'indifférence 1895-2010, in the seminar Pouvoirs et dépendances au sein de la famille : perspectives comparatives (16e-20e siecles), École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales/EHESS, Centre de Recherches Historiques/CRH, 28th February 2013, Paris, France.
As for the published papers we can count (starting with 2012):
1.Ioan Bolovan, Marius Eppel, "Între stat și biserică: identitate și alteritate prin căsătoriile mixte în Transilvania (a doua jumătate a sec. al XIX-lea și începutul sec. XX)", in In Honorem Alexandru Moșanu. Studii de istorie medievală, modernă și contemporană a românilor, ed. Nicolae Enciu, Centrul de Studii Transilvane and Presa Universitară Clujeană Publishing Houses, Cluj-Napoca, 2012, pp. 327-336.
2. Luminița Dumănescu, "The Law of Marriage in Romania, 1890-2010", Transylvanian Review, no. 4/2012.
3. 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.
4. Ioan Bolovan, Elena Daniela Mârza, Bogdan Crăciun, Mixed Marriages in a Multiethnic and Multiconfessional Environment. A Case Study on the City of Cluj (1900-1939) in Transylvanian Review, 2012, pag. 405-412.
5. Hărăgus Mihaela, The role of education in ethnically mixed marriages, in Intermarriage throughout History, coord. Luminita Dumanescu, Marius Eppel, Daniela Marza, Cambridge Scholar Publishing, pp.
6. Daniela Mârza, Bogdan Crăciun, Mixed Marriages in Cluj in the inter-war period, in Intermarriage throughout History, coord. Luminita Dumanescu, Marius Eppel, Daniela Marza, Cambridge Scholar Publishing, pp.
7. Ioan Bolovan, Marius Eppel, Churches from Transylvania and their attitude about mixed marriages (from 1894 to present), in Intermarriage throughout History, coord. Luminita Dumanescu, Marius Eppel, Daniela Marza, Cambridge Scholar Publishing, pp.
8. Luminita Dumanescu, Being a child in a mixed family in nowadays Transylvania, Romanian Journal of Population Studies
Papers presented at scientific conferences (7):
1.Ioan Bolovan, Căsătoriile mixte în Transilvania de-a lungul timpului: între vulnerabilitate demografică și oportunitate interculturală, presented at the international conference Vulnerabilități ale populației în spațiul 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 "Ștefan Cicio Pop" Association.
2. 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.
3. 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;
4. 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.
5. Luminița 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.
6. Luminița 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.
7. Luminița Dumănescu, Mihaela Hărăguș, 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).
As an exceptional outcome of the project we must mention the Intermarriage throughout History Conference Proceedings which is going to be printed at Cambridge Scholar Publishing, UK, at beginning of 2014. The volume includes 24 studies on mixed marriages coming from authors belonging to some prestigious European universities and not only. The volume is coordinated by three members of the team, Luminita Dumanescu , Daniela Mârza and Marius Eppel .
For 2014 we have to publish the last 3 articles and the monography of mixed marriages in order to fully meet the target assumed in the project proposal.
Prof. Dr. Ioan Bolovan
© 2011 by Luminita Dumanescu
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