Paul Stirton, Dept of History of Art, University of Glasgow

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Paul Stirton, Dept of History of Art, University of Glasgow Powered By Docstoc
					Paul Stirton, Dept of History of Art, University of Glasgow
Contested Histories: Public Monuments in Cluj-Napoca/ Koloszvar/Klausenburg

Comprising three major ethnic communities, the Transylvanian city of Cluj-Napoca has been
an arena of ethnic and political rivalry over several generations. This paper examines a form
of ‘politics by proxy’ that has been conducted since 1970 through a major campaign of public
monumental sculpture and archaeological investigation that has transformed the centre of the
city. Recent monuments celebrate figures from Romanian and/or proletarian history, seeking
to establish a new pantheon of heroes and a reading of history that supersedes the previous
hegemony of the Hungarians and Germans. In this context, aesthetic matters are secondary
to the assertion of rival narratives and hierarchies. Another aspect is an ad hoc policy of ‘anti-
monumentalism’ in which pre-1914 monuments have been altered or relocated to change
their meanings, or have had rival monuments erected alongside to undermine the power and
identity of the original. From the Scoala Ardeleana group (1973) to the Heroes of December
1989 (2002), this campaign will be analysed in the context of ethnic, national and class
rivalries while also locating the whole programme within the urban re-settlement policy
initiated by Nicolae Ceausescu in the 1960s-70s.

The wider implications of the campaign will be explored, particularly with regard to issues of
national heritage and preservation, and it will be compared, in passing, to the experience in
another ‘divided city’; Derry/Londonderry in Northern Ireland.

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