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Demonic beings with the Vlachs of North-Eastern Serbia (Annemarie Sorescu-Marinkovic) - Academia.edu

Demonic beings with the Vlachs of North-Eastern Serbia (Annemarie Sorescu-Marinkovic) - Academia.edu

Demonic beings with the Vlachs of North-Eastern Serbiaby Annemarie Sorescu-Marinkovic

PhD thesis defended in 2010 at the Faculty of Philology, "Babeş-Bolyai" University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

This study has two main parts: a comprehensive and extended introduction comprised of four separate chapters, and a dictionary of the supernatural beings which appear in the folklore of the Vlachs of North-Eastern Serbia.

In the first chapter, The Vlachs – an introduction, the author offers several landmarks for the origins and history of the Vlachs of north-eastern Serbia, trying to present them in the wider context of other Romanian language communities living in Serbia. After a detailed discussion on the Vlach vernaculars, the author focuses on the four Vlach dialectal and ethnographic groups – Ţărani, Ungureni, Ungureni-Munteni and Bufani, with a special emphasis on the last one. The second chapter, Studies on the folk culture of the Vlachs, represents a comprehensive review of the studies dealing with the folk culture of this community, which have been published both in Serbia and Romania, starting from the 19th century on. The third chapter, The present-day fieldwork with the Vlachs, apart from the theoretical frame on fieldwork methods, ethics and interaction, presents the characteristic features of this region, as far as field research is concerned, emphasizing, among others, the delicate issue of the researcher-interlocutor relation. As well, a special attention is paid to the stages which precede and follow fieldwork. In the fourth and last chapter of the first part, Is there a Vlach mythology?, the author shows that the mythological universe of this community is formed of a series of overlapping and intersections of variants, of blank spaces or shadowed ones, repetitions and redundancies, and the image which results from here is a blurry and protean one. In conclusion, one cannot generalize and talk about a Vlach mythology, but only about an assembly of mythological texts, obtained from different narrators. Here is where the author also details on the corpus she based her analysis on, which sums up more than a hundred texts, of different types and dimensions, collected personally between 2003 and 2009 in several localities from North-Eastern Serbia.

The second part of the study, Draft for a mythological dictionary of the Vlachs, is comprised of eleven entries, which present eleven supernatural characters that appear in different mythological texts recorded with the Vlachs. All the entries have been compiled from a comparative perspective, Romanian and Slavic. From the very beginning, the author notices that the three demonic beings which people narrate about in all the regions of North-Eastern Serbia inhabited by Vlachs (as well as in Romania, Serbia and wider in the Balkans) and which appear in the repertoire of almost every interlocutor are Ursitoarele (the Faiths), Zburătorul (the evil spirit tormenting girls and women) and Moroiul (the Ghost) – connected to three important periods in people’s life: birth, adulthood (its erotic side) and death. They can be classified as active demons, because they are narrated about in the present, out of personal experience, and the practices which aim to neutralize or to pacify them are still present nowadays. The other demonic characters presented in the book are: Ala, Sântoaderii, Joimărica, Miazanopţii, Muma pădurii, Samodiva, Şoimanele and Vâlva. Every time it was necessary, the author marked if they are still alive in the memory of her interlocutors, who tell about them using the present tense, and whether they are “active” or have been “deactivated”, being transformed into mere masks or processions.

The aim of the study was, on the one hand, to place the community of Vlachs from North-Eastern Serbia in a wider historical and ethnological frame, which would offer an accurate and scientifically objective image of this community, which is today object of intense political debates, and on the other hand, to mark the relations, influences and confluences in the domain of folk beliefs about supernatural beings from this border space, situated at the intersection of more cultures.

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