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Images as sites of subversion: the Passion of Christ in the orthodox ecclesiastical art of Transylvania (eighteenth-nineteenth centuries)

Andrei, Andreea (2019) Images as sites of subversion: the Passion of Christ in the orthodox ecclesiastical art of Transylvania (eighteenth-nineteenth centuries). Advisor: Pellegrini, Prof. Emanuele. Coadvisor: Bertelli, Prof. Linda . pp. 310. [IMT PhD Thesis]

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Abstract

The thesis captures the intricacies of the interplay of religion, ethnicity, politics, and social class in the scriptural imagery depicted on the walls of Transylvanian wooden churches in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It places emphasis on the episodes of the Passion, in which Ottoman Turks and Hungarians stand in for Christ’s persecutors. It engages with alterity as constructed by ideology and social power relations. If dominant groups enjoyed superior access to power, Orthodox Romanians (who differed in ethnicity, class, language, and religion) had to face political exclusion and economic exploitation. Alterity is primarily understood as the perceived otherness of the Romanian rural society against foreign menace and politically dominant groups. We examine the Passion scenes as sites of subversion, where Orthodox Romanians, which constituted the ‘marginal majority’, could allude to social iniquities, challenge the social, political, and religious might of dominant powers, as well as kindle hostility against them. In order to illustrate the way in which these renditions are related to structures of power and subversion, we investigate the connection between changes in iconography that contributed to their permeation of the religious realm and the process of identity formation of the Romanian nation in Transylvania. We argue that the painters framed the message conveyed by the paintings in such a way that it would resonate with and reinforce a mindset that the receivers, the Romanian peasantry, already possessed. The executioners’ allegorical representations are not the product of a mere correlation between Turks and Hungarians and ‘enemies of the faith’ or heretics, but an extension of the mentalities of the Transylvanian Orthodox communities of that time. The sharpening of ethnic and religious distinctions was intentional in shaping identity. It entailed a hierarchical ordering that privileged the marginal and discredited the influential.

Item Type: IMT PhD Thesis
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
PhD Course: Management and Development of Cultural Heritage
Identification Number: 10.6092/imtlucca/e-theses/272
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2019 13:04
URI: http://e-theses.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/272

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