The Globalization of Rural Plays in the Twenty-First Century excavates the neglected ideological substratum of peasant folk plays. By focusing on northeastern Romania and southwest Ukraine—two of the most ruralized regions in Europe—this work reveals the complex landscape of peasant plays and the essential role they perform in shaping local culture, economy, and social life. The rapid demise of these practices and the creation of preservation programs is analyzed in the context of the corrosive effects of global capitalism and the processes of globalization, urbanization, mass-mediatization, and heritagization. Just like peasants in search of better resources, rural plays “migrate" from their villages of origin into the urban, modern, and more dynamic world, where they become more visible and are both appreciated and exploited as forms of transnational, intangible cultural heritage.
Alin Rus is adjunct lecturer of anthropology at Franklin Pierce University.
Chapter 1: Heleșteni Community and Its Plays
Chapter 2: Ruginoasa Community and Its Plays
Chapter 3: Rural Customary Communities and Their System of Values
Chapter 4: Portraying of Peasantry and Rural Plays in Peasant Studies and Mummers’ Plays Studies
Chapter 5: The Evolution of Play/Game – From Rural Plays to Video Games
Chapter 6: From Community Plays to Transnational Cultural Heritage
Alin Rus’s work on twenty-first century rural plays reminds us that playfulness is a fundamental structural part of our collective life that can outlive historical hardships. The endurance of cultural forms such as the rural plays of Romanian peasants over the centuries proves that their constant transformation within customary communities is more prevalent than its standardized preservation as intangible cultural heritage through state institutions or transnational organizations. Noting the speed with which contemporary heritage-making transforms rural plays into a piece of the culture industry for touristic consumption, while rural communities are dismantled by labor migration, this study also sends an urgent warning.
Alin Rus's book, The Globalization of Rural Plays in the Twenty-First Century, proposes a reimagining of European history as the history of small rural communities beyond the great narratives that we find in history textbooks. The path of these communities was sometimes convergent and many other times divergent, but its common elements were always rural values and plays. As an ethnologist with over three decades of experience in the European countryside, I can say that I found the arguments of the work not only convincing but also fascinating, thanks to the presentation of a picture that future generations of anthropologists will not have the opportunity to see embodied anymore.