September 24, Amsterdam,
I started my fieldwork on Romanian diaspora by participating at the first edition of Romanian Days festival. The festival took place in De Rijp, in the period of 15-17 September 2017 and was organized by the first diasporic Romanian organization from the Netherlands, Rompro. The association is already gaining more visibility within the Romanian community with its various regular and irregular activities: the Romanian weekend School, the online language school, the Business Club, the Romanian Blouse Day and others.
The festival appealed to a diversity of social groups, offering a wide range of workshops and events, reflecting thus the organization’s focuses: workshops on public speaking and efficient networking appealing to professionals, a workshop on transcultural relationships that was addressing both transcultural challenges within the family (in raising children for example) or the companies where Romanian people work; and also a wide array of artistic moments held by talented Romanians: writers, musicians, actors/performance artists, dancers.
One thing that firstly came to my mind during the whole event where some traits that I would associate with first generation diasporic formations: nostalgia towards the homeland, concerns over the proper integration in the hostland, and the creation of a positive common image and identity. The event had a double dimension: on the one side to help each other to better integrate and succeed in the host country, and on the other side to create spaces where Romanianness can be lived – through food, music, children activities, etc. As an “insider-outsider,” I benefited from both of these universes and felt more Romanian than I ever felt in the past 5 years that I have been living in the Netherlands. But that is for later to theorize.
One other important thing that stayed with me in the past days after the festival was the feeling of having known the strong bonds that a few people, and especially a few Romanian women and mothers have managed to create. If initially dispersed in their personal diasporic challenges and nostalgias – expressed through personal blogs, websites and Facebook groups – the bonds of motherhood among others seem to have created graspable material structures of belonging.
Having decided to look closer at motherhood as a site for identity negotiations I am curious to find out how the networks, built alongside the online/offline continuum, lead to the creation of such structures of belonging.