Enchanted place, shifting landscapes. An anthropological study on the tangled transformations within Roșia Montană’s place and landscape
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This thesis deals with the transformations which have occurred in Roșia Montană, Romania after the late 1990s – early 2000s – when the mining company RMGC arrived at the community with a plan to start an open pit mine in the area – and how these transformations have influenced the locals’ perceptions of their surroundings. Roșia Montană and its surrounding area has a thousands of years long mining history, but a project with an amplitude such as that proposed by RMGC would have been something unprecedented not only in the region, but in the whole country. The project was met by a strong country-wide opposition, since its implementation would have involved the displacement of a few thousands of people, and it also raised considerable environmental and economic concerns. Within Roșia Montană’s community, the attitudes towards the company and its project were anything but homogenous or stable. Though the project was never implemented, since the company failed to get all the approvals required for setting it in motion, Roșia Montană and the lives of its inhabitants were greatly transformed by the presence of the company. Apart from the fact that much of the population has already been relocated, the social environment in Roșia Montană was greatly changed, mostly due to the conflictual relationships between those who were against the project and those who were for it. The transformations that this thesis centers on are those concerning the locals’ relationship with their place and their landscape. I have approached both people’s relationship with the physical landscape as well as their relationship with the social ones, or the –scapes, as Appadurai conceives of them, looking at the ways the locals have used in order to navigate the latter. This social landscape was an overwhelmingly intricate one, navigating it was highly confusing and demanding, required skills that the locals needed to develop almost overnight, and has strained the collective psyche. Most of the research was conducted in Roșia Montană, but part of it took place in Recea, the neighbourhood built by the company for those who accepted to relocate, but also wished to remain within the same community. Recea is around 70 km away from Roșia Montană and its landscape is completely different, both physically and socially. Thus, while the relocatees in Recea had to adapt to their new place, those who remained in Roșia Montană had to adapt to living in a place whose population was severely reduced by these relocations. But since the company has yet to accept its defeat, many of Roșia Montană’s inhabitants are in a state of insecurity: they do not yet know for certain whether the mining project will ever be launched or not.