Oana-Ramona Ilovan

Research Area 4

Stay at EEGA: two weeks in June 2018

I am currently Associate Professor at “Babeş-Bolyai” University, Faculty of Geography (Department of Regional Geography and Territorial Planning). My research interests focus on territorial identity and development, involving qualitative methodology and interdisciplinary approaches.

My research project: Researching Place-Making and Belonging in Urban Romania through Postcards. Before, during and after the Socialist Period

At present, Romanian urban areas undergo a process of defining their identity. Different such processes develop in large cities from those in small and medium-sized cities (shrinking cities). I shall research how urban history and place identity construction can be traced in representations of the Romanian urban area in postcards from three different periods. Doing so, the aim of my research is to understand the answers that diverse Romanian cities give at present while representing themselves and re-defining their identity in a globalised world.

My research will contribute through offering answers to certain questions that remained unanswered so far for the case of Romania. Defining territorial identity as the characteristic features of the urban area and inhabitants’ feeling of belonging to that area, and being aware of the impact that globalisation had and still has on our livelihoods, here are some of the most important questions included in my project application: Which are the symbols of globalisation that can be identified in visual texts (i.e. postcards) of the Romanian urban areas? How did the key visual elements relate to globalisation processes impacted people’s sense of place and created new urban landscapes of feeling and belonging? How did the perception (and whose perception) of architectural and urban landscapes change over time and how did globalisation processes and political ones influence it? Which was and is the impact of globalisation processes on identity building in the urban area of Romania as reflected in visual texts (i.e. postcards)?

I shall use visual methodology to explore place identity before, during, and after the socialist period in Romania, using postcards that inform insiders and outsiders of features of the urban area, while supporting or contesting an official political discourse on identity and development. Comparing visual texts (i.e. postcards) from three different periods in the Romanian history could enable me to identify also differences in representing the urban area and thus also identify the way in which a certain type of discourse about places and community identity was and is promoted.