Uses of the Throne Hall in the former Royal Palace in Bucharest from 1947 to 2019: a social semiotic perspective

  • Marina Cristiana Rotaru Technical University of Civil Engineering Bucharest, Romania
Keywords: space; place; story; consumerism; Throne Hall;

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to investigate, from a socio-semiotic perspective, the manner in which the political regimes installed after the forced abdication of King Mihai I (on 30 December 1947) used the Throne Hall in the former royal palace in Bucharest to meet their own needs. In December 1947, Romania was illegally turned from a constitutional monarchy into a popular republic, with the help of the Red Army. Then, the popular republic was transformed into a socialist republic, in fact, a communist dictatorship. In December 1989, the communist regime collapsed and was replaced by a post-communist one, a regime which did not seem willing to leave behind the communist ideological legacy, manifest, in the 1990s, in the brutal repression of anti-government protesters in University Square in Bucharest, or in the Romanian Mineriads of 1990 and 1991. The political regimes that succeeded to power after 1947 deprived the Throne Hall of its monarchic symbolism and used it in ways incongruent with its inherent function, albeit for official purposes. The manner in which the communist regime made use of this particular place is indicative of its intent and success in reinventing traditions or adapting older traditions to its ideological goals, in order to alienate Romanians from their recent past, in disrespect for the nation’s heritage. Although the former royal palace was completely transformed into a national museum of art after 1990, a cultural institution meant, by its very purpose, to save at least part of the nation’s memory, political decision makers ignored the symbolism of a national museum such as the National Museum of Art of Romania, known to many Romanians as the former royal palace. In bewildering, yet not unprecedented fashion, the Throne Hall has been recently used, by the Romanian government, as a dining hall in a series of events that preceded the takeover of the presidency of the EU Council by Romania in January 2019. We claim that the government’s decision can be circumscribed to Jean Baudrillard’s concept of consumerism, characterized by the rule of sign value as a status symbol. In addition, Jan Blommaert’s and Barbara Johnstone’s taxonomies further the argument that the Throne Hall is not a mere space, but a place, its function having been perverted by both ideological manipulation and aggressive consumerism.

Author Biography

Marina Cristiana Rotaru, Technical University of Civil Engineering Bucharest, Romania

Marina-Cristiana Rotaru is a university lecturer at the Technical University of Civil Engineering Bucharest. In 2013 she received her doctoral title with the degree Summa cum laude from Université de Bretagne-Sud, Lorient, France, where she defended her thesis entitled British and Romanian Constitutional Monarchies and Their Representations in the Royal Discourse of Queen Elizabeth II and King Mihai I. She has specialised in critical discourse analysis, with a focus on royal discourse, and has published numerous articles on this topic, such as “Portraits of Queen Elizabeth II – Royal Representations in the Public Imagination Through Time” (in Time and Culture / Temps et Culture, Bucureşti: Editura Universităţii din Bucureşti, 2016) or “Towards a Discourse of Abdication – A Linguistic Perspective on the Text of the Act of Abdication of King Michael of Romania/„Către un discurs al abdicării. O perspectivă lingvistică asupra textului actului de abdicare al regelui Mihai I al României” (in Regele, comuniştii şi Coroana, eds. Alexandru Muraru, Andrei Muraru, Iaşi: Polirom, 2017), to mention but  a few. Her fields of interest also include Specialised Legal Translation and Specialised Economic Translation, which she teaches to the students of the Specialisation Translation and Interpretation of the Technical University of Civil Engineering Bucharest.

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Published
2020-04-17
How to Cite
Rotaru, M. C. (2020). Uses of the Throne Hall in the former Royal Palace in Bucharest from 1947 to 2019: a social semiotic perspective. Swedish Journal of Romanian Studies, 3(1), 188-205. https://doi.org/10.35824/sjrs.v3i1.20432