Gabriela Florea

Από ξένους Ορθόδοξους σε Έλληνες υπηκόους: η συγκρότηση του ρουμανικού έθνους-κράτους και τα αστικά δικαιώματα των Ελλήνων στη Ρουμανία (1830-1887)


Despite fundamental contributions of a number of prominent scholars (1), the study of national identities, especially of the modern ones, remains a very confused field of research. A basic reason for this confusion has much to do with semantic problems of key concepts like “nation”, “ethnicity”, and “nationality”. In addition, most of the well-documented studies approached the theme from a rather theoretical point of view (2), although in many cases they were not confined to a single disciplinary perspective. It is true that historians dominated the field but the overwhelming importance of history on this topic is hard to be denied. However, most of the studies, at least in what concerns southeast Europe, were based on the works of the intelligentsia that actually contributed to the emergence of the modern national identities, whereas, in my opinion, the analysis of new archival historical sources remains a desideratum. This paper attempts to illustrate a few of the common elements as well of the differences between the concepts: “nation”, “ethnicity”, and “nationality” in the light of, to a great extent unpublished, juridical and diplomatic sources concerning the legal rights of “Greeks” in “Romania” between 1830 and 1887. From 1830’s onward Wallachian and Moldavian societies were moving towards a new order aimed at economical and political independence from the “suzerain” Ottoman Empire, as well as direct integration in the international economy and the creation of a unified “Romanian” state according to the principles of the European bourgeois liberalism. This process could be also investigated through the definition of “the foreigner” in the sources of the time. The situation of the Orthodox-“Greek” foreigners seems to be of outstanding importance since Wallachians and Moldavians not only belonged to the same faith, but they all used to be integrated in the same Ottoman religious-political institution: “Rum-«Greek» millet” under the direct control of the Patriarchate of Constantinople (3). In other words, all these populations prior to 1830 used to have common political identity under the Ottoman umbrella. Therefore, after a short survey of the millet system of the Ottoman Empire and its influence on the organization of the foreign communities in one of its successor states like Romania, this essay focuses on the terminology pertaining to foreigners in the newly born nation-state. More specifically, the present investigation is based on Romanian sources such as: laws of naturalization, the constitution, the civil code and, after 1875, international conventions and treaties. However, my conclusions are drawn by comparing these documents with the laws of naturalization and diplomatic reports of the Modern Greek state referring to Romanian legislation. The Greek-Romanian commercial convention valid during 1880-1887 is the last of these series of documents. The comparison of these sources reveals the fluidity of the term “nationality” (εθνικότητα) and to what extent it is congruent to “nation” (έθνος) and “ethnicity” (εθνότητα). Thus, the definition of the “Greeks” in contrast with the “Romanians” could confirm or variegate some of the already known aspects of this challenging subject of national identities. (1) Few of the most cited authors include: A. D. Smith, E. Gellner, E. J. Hobsbawm, A. Hastings, B. Anderson, I. Wallerstein, W. Connor, J. Breuilly, P. F. Sugar, E. Kedourie. (2) They suggest patterns of human associations and define their features. (3) It is worth mentioning that, except of a few allusions, the Romanian historiography is totally silent on this topic.

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