The Story of the Centre

The first Telciu Summer Conferences took place in 2012, in the village with the same name, as a project addressed particularly to the students and young researchers in Social Sciences and the Humanities. The initiator of this project is Valer Simion Cosma, born in the village and PhD researcher in History at the time. Confronted with the lack of funds and support for the conference he was planning to organize in Cluj, Valer moved it to Telciu, his hometown, where he found financial and logistical support from the side of the Local Council and Telciu town hall.

The first edition went good, and as a result we decided to repeat it and to make it permanent. In 2015, the organizational team was joined by Manuela Boatcă, and as such we put together an awesome edition, which motivated us even further to extend the project. The idea of contesting the central position occupied at the moment by the urban space – as a privileged place for the production and dissemination of academic knowledge – attracted several professors from both Romania and abroad. Moreover, the interest shown by the public – students, researchers, activists, as well as the support from the side of the community and the local institutions led to further and more complex projects. Together with a handful of people, among whom Alina Branda, Ovidiu Țichindeleanu and Matei Costinescu, we founded the Centre for the Study of Modernity and the Rural World in 2016, the same year when the first edition of the Telciu Summer School took place.

In 2018, together with Claudiu Lorand Maxim, we also launched in Telciu the platform of residences and artistic creation ‘Handpicked from Telciu’. The two series of artistic residences and research – from 2018 and 2019, respectively – allowed the young residents to both get in touch with the rural space and to get locals from the community in Telciu involved in their documentation and creative process. One of the dramatic texts born during the 2019 residences constitutes in 2020 the basis for an artistic production project called “Basic cells”/ “Originary cells”, which will be entirely produced and premiered in Telciu, in addition to which it aims to include the youth in Telciu in the production team.

In 2019, at the public lecture of „Povestea Gaborilor din Telciu” / „The Story of the Roma in Telciu”, a dramatic text developed by Mădălina Brândușe and Andrei Șerban, within the Handpicked in Telciu residence

During these years, various people joined the organizational team or as collaborators, whose help and involvement contributed immensely to the development of the projects and to the transformation of Telciu village into a landmark on the academic and cultural national and international maps. In 2019, the organization of the conference was taken over by Ágota Ábrán, who took the event ever further, together with Ştefan Baghiu, Adina Mocanu, and many others.

Throughout both previous projects and the stay in Telciu, we noticed the need for cultural and community-based activities, but we also noticed the lack of spaces, products and cultural or educational-artistic activities available in the village – a common situation in Romanian rural areas. As a result, in 2019 took place the first edition of the platform for education and culture called ‘Telciu Newsletter’, ‘Telciu 2020’ being its natural outcome.

As part of the Scientific Council of the Centre are professors from notorious universities from Romania and abroad, such as Julie Klinger (Delaware University, SUA), or Cornel Ban (Copenhagen Business School, Danemarca).

On the other hand, the executive team which designs and implements the projects got formed organically during the previous editions of our projects, and it’s constituted by students, PhD or other young researchers. Our main motivation is given by the need for the projects carried out, the positive impact our previous initiatives had on the community in Telciu, as well as the affective relationship we have developed with the local community. Having in common a clear vision of what the Centre means, and of the impact we wish our projects to have, we succeed in learning every year alongside the participants and the community, so that we can develop sustainable projects which would promote a critical understanding of the contemporary world, as well as better tools to navigate it.

Aside from their theoretical or artistic content, the Centre’s projects are collective projects, with a strong community-oriented focus, while their applicability and durability depends on the good cooperation of all involved parts, people, communities, institutions, associations and local companies. As such, the Telciu Summer Conferences, followed by the rest of our ongoing projects, benefitted each year from the financial and logistical support of the local administration and other institutions in the village. Being backed up by the community and the local institutions was essential to having free access to spaces, transport, and timely support in various situations. We are thankful for this especially to the Town Hall and the Local Council of Telciu, as well as to Telciu Technological High School.

The vast majority of funds which enable us to carry out our projects is obtained during the AFCN contests. During the last years we also succeeded in attracting the support of other institutions from Bistrița-Năsăud and other areas of Romania. Starting from 2018, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation helped us financially in organizing the Telciu Summer School. Furthermore, during the past two years, 2019 and 1918, we obtained financial support for all the projects carried out by our association from the county council of Bistrița-Năsăud via Bistriţa-Năsăud County Centre for Culture.

We are also grateful to all people, organizations and companies (Transilvania Print, Casa-Nova Guesthouse, Hovrea “La Motel” Restaurant, Sonia Guesthouse) which have been helping us in various ways. And last but not least, we wish to thank all locals who have been helping us every year and who have been involved in the process of carrying out the events and activities.

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Photos by Ioana Ofelia.