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Luxury, fashion and social status in Early Modern South Eastern Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - LuxFaSS (Luxury, fashion and social status in Early Modern South Eastern Europe)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2020-12-31

"The main objective of the project has been to analyze luxury, fashion and consumption in South-Eastern Europe in relation with a series of processes, such as modernization and the construction of an elite. To achieve this objective we adopted a comparative approach and a longue durée perspective, in order to highlight the shifts from one period to another within the same geographical space. In fact, luxury, fashion, and consumption have been used as key-words enabling us to rediscover the past through objects, documents, languages, images, and people.

The present research topic has been of particular importance for those among the South-Eastern Europe societies that experienced the Communist regime. For a long time, history has been perverted and historical research was the first to suffer. Each step of the project has been brought into public debate important subjects, such as: the role of the past in the collective memory of a nation; material heritage and its relevance in re-writing the past; interpreting the Phanariot regime in light of archival documents. We aimed to connect the events and developments in the Romanian Principalities with the history of the region (Balkans), thus moving beyond the national and local historical interpretation.

Most of the scholarly events within the project were organized in Bucharest, which included noted specialists from various European countries, with the support of the host institution (New Europe College). Participants gave papers and the events were attended by a large public of scholars from various disciplines, proving once more the interest of this research topics. The project was also an opportunity for setting up a team which included international scholars, and to hold events at venues outside Romania, in prestigious institutions (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Centre Marc Bloch, Berlin, European University Institute of Florence), in thus establishing a large network of scholarly contacted with specialist interested in similar questions.

This European project is also an inspiration for the Romanian researchers, in encouraging them to apply for ERC grants.

In recognition of the integration of Romanian historical research in the international framework, the President of Romania, Klaus Werner Johannis, awarded to me the honorific medal ""Ordinul National Serviciul Credincios in grad de Cavaler "" / National Order of Faithful Service (rank of Knight) in a public ceremony.

- The overall objectives:
1. An analysis of luxury in connection with power
a) the use of luxury by the Christian elites as a way of forging their identity by focusing on material goods, but also on cultural ideas
b) the routes of goods across South-Eastern Europe, focusing on the commercial aspects and on the networks, with people involved in all kinds of cultural and economic transfers
2. Luxury, “Europeanization” and the consumer society
a) the emergence of the Balkan nations, with a focus on changes leading to “modernization” seen as a process of „Europeanization” of these „new societies”
b) the consumer society and its definition in a new context brought about by the 19th century"
The Principal Investigator and her team disseminated the results of their research within the following publications: a monograph, two collective volumes, a critical edition of an important narrative source, three special journal issues and more than 20 articles and book chapters. These contributions enrich the international knowledge about South-Eastern Europe. They brought forth a great number of unknown archives and museums artefacts in thus underlining the importance of the region for the international historiography. The team members integrated their research findings on topics such as consumption, social status and luxury, circulation of people and identity in the international approaches of global history, patronage and networks across the empires. The Principal Investigator connected the ERC project to other international projects (HEMSEE) and research networks (for example, Transottomanica and GIS-ACORSO).
During this time-span, the LuxFaSS project organized nine major international conferences and workshops. The conferences brought together renowned scholars and young promising researchers, making possible a fruitful scientific dialogue on luxury, consumption and social status in early modern South-Eastern Europe.
The PI and the team members participated in national and international conferences, conventions and congresses (63), workshops (47), and some of them gave lectures or discussed their findings with students within seminars (37). The PI was especially active in making the project and its results known through lectures, both for academic and broader audiences. The number of research stages (66) enabled the team members to gather information about their topics and to contribute to the online database, a work still in progress. All the information can be accessed via the LuxFaSS website
Global history opened up new research paths, giving priority to comparative research on longer periods of time. In this manner, important regions were rediscovered and investigated. South-Eastern Europe is one of these regions which must be ‘explored’ and thoroughly analyzed. Emerging from the Eastern Bloc, some of the countries in this region still live under the spell of historical national myths, used by the socialist regimes to interpret history according to their political needs. Our project intended to provide high quality research on South-Eastern Europe that makes better known its past and contribute to its understanding; to act as a conduit between local historiographies, scholars and institutions and global academia, fostering a mutually beneficial meeting ground for the exchange of expertise; to introduce the results into scholarly circulation, and to make it accessible to a wider public; to create an open-access database of luxury objects from museum collections within Southeastern Europe and beyond.
Michal Wasiucionek presenting his paper at the LuxFaSS international workshop from 4-5 June 2018
Constanta Vintila-Ghitulescu awarded with the medal National Order for Faithful Service
Constanta Vintila-Ghitulescu at the LuxFaSS international workshop from 4-5 June 2018
Giulia Calvi giving a lecture on global courts at ”Nicolae Iorga” Institute of History (2019)
Constanta Vintila-Ghitulescu at 12th Congress of South-Eastern European Studies in a LuxFaSS session
Maria Pakucs presenting her paper at the LuxFaSS international workshop from 4-5 June 2018