Narratives of positionality in contemporary Gagauzia: complexity and national normativity


Tartu : University of Tartu Press, 2022

ISBN: 9789949039777

157 pages : illustrated ; 25 cm

Dissertationes folkloristicae Universitatis Tartuensis ; 34

Softcover new book


Doctoral theses defended at the University of Tartu, summary in Estonian

Drawing on ethnographic data from Gagauzia, an autonomous area in Moldova, this dissertation deals with concentric intersections of individuals’ and geopolitical configurations’ narratives of positionality, situating them within global frameworks of uneven distribution of wealth and entitlement. Focusing on narratives of positionality as an alternative to traditional concepts of identity aims to shed essentialist baggage, bringing context and practice to the forefront. This work unpacks Gagauzia’s historical, cultural, linguistic, and geographic ties to Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Russia, and Turkey, all of which exert overlapping identity-framed discourses and policies, exploring how they are navigated strategically in order to access opportunity and material support. As such, it problematizes issues of national normativity, compulsion to voice belonging vis-à-vis national labels. Particular attention is given to language practices and ideologies, demonstrating how they structure national normativity and accompanying cycles of exclusion. In addition, this dissertation zooms in on Gagauzian ethnopolitical entrepreneurs, who advance business initiatives by reproducing template imaginings of folk culture to create rhetoric on authentic Gagauzian-ness. Emphasizing diversity and dynamism among local accounts of both self and collective, this dissertation lends underrepresented ethnographic data and emic perspective to the growing body of research on Gagauzia. In an effort to disrupt observer/observed dynamics, this project also contains an autoethnographic component, scrutinizing the author’s own embeddedness in and negotiations of national normativity. By arguing for more complexity in representing places like Gagauzia, this dissertation endeavors to critically rethink the categories through which we view the world and our fellow world inhabitants, and through which we perform and narrate our own articulations of self.

Holsapple, Christiana
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