Mateescu 3/2009

Sociologie Românească, Vol. VII, no. 3/2009, pp. 51-71.




Evidence in the Museum: Subjects, Objects and Memories in Vrancea

Evidence in the Museum: Subjects, Objects and Memories in Vrancea

Oana Mateescu


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Abstract: This article analyzes the uses of memory in the emergence of an irregular "evidentiary economy" paying attention to the ways in which objects are called upon to stand as proofs or witnesses in the disputes over the ownership of Vrancea's communal forests. I focus on some specific and relatively recent configurations of matter, meaning and temporality, which are locally identified by the paradoxical label of "personal museums". These are unusual arrangements of material objects (and less so of texts, in the strict sense) that mediate multiple forms of memory - personal, genealogical, regional - anchoring different and potentially overlapping communities of viewers. Their collections of things and persons precipitate not just the recollection of the past, but also the creation of newly meaningful representations of the collectivity. The article looks at three such museums in different villages of Vrancea, exploring some of the theoretical and practical questions that are raised at the intersection of memory and materiality.

Keywords: memory, materiality, evidence, museum, communal ownership, Vrancea.

Cuvinte-cheie: memorie, materialitate, evidenţă, muzee, proprietate comunală, Vrancea.