"Romanian travellers at European spas". Lecture by Alex Drace-Francis at University of Amsterdam (Zoom event)
"I never lived such a life before" - Romanian travellers at European spas during the nineteenth-century
Lecture by Dr Alex Drace-Francis, University of Amsterdam
Spas, like steamboats, hotels, beaches and other places of resort, were developed infrastructurally in the nineteenth century as places of leisure and encounter. The European spa has been characterized as a 'transnational space and social metaphor', but also as 'a stage for the negotiation of political, social and cultural issues'. An optimistic reading of such European negotiations would see such space as offering the potential for individuals or indeed social classes to transcend their particular identities and enabling the forging of transnational links, friendships and solidarities. This paper will focus on the experiences of Romanian travellers to (mainly west-) European spa resorts in the nineteenth century. For these travellers, spa visits were part of a process of self-transformation - sanitary, social and psychological - but also sometimes an occasion for recognizing cultural difference vis-a-vis European norms, or even for critiquing the latter. Drawing on several nineteenth-century Romanian-language primary accounts of European holiday experiences, I propose to address the question of 'cultural negotiation', in the light of broader social-scientific theories of mobility, identity and recognition.
Alex Drace-Francis is Associate Professor in the Cultural History of Modern Europe in the Department of European Studies, University of Amsterdam. He has published widely on the topics of Romanian social and cultural history, travel and travel writing, and European identity.
Zoom Meeting link:
You are warmly invited to this first ARTES EAST seminar this year. Exceptionally this time, the seminar is organised jointly by the University of Glasgow Central and East European Studies (CEES), the Amsterdam School for Regional, Transnational and European Studies (ARTES), and the HERA project "The European Spa", led by Dr Christian Noack (University of Amsterdam). The meeting will be chaired and hosted by Dr Zsuzsanna Varga (University of Glasgow).