Italian entrepreneurs' rush towards Romania. Trails and tales of Gold Fever
Throughout the 1990s, thousands of Italian entrepreneurs made the gamble of setting up in Romania. The testimonies of these unlikely “pioneers” of liberalism outline the new contours of a Europe in the midst of mutation. Conducted within the frame of the European Works project, coordinated by Aziliz Gouez, this study throws light on the economic and cultural links forged between Italy and Romania since the Fall of the Berlin Wall. In so doing, it seeks to remedy the lack of cognition and recognition affecting the new transnational spaces surfacing within the enlarged European Union.
Today the economic relations between Italy and Romania are characterised by two main movements: the establishment of numerous Italian manufacturing plants in the Banat region of western Romania; and, from 2002 onwards, the en masse arrival in Italy of Romanian workers. The “productive archipelago” arisen from these criss-crossed movements connects two regions which are geographically non-contiguous. Such complex systems often remain understudied in comparison with those of multinational corporations, which utilize more standardized organizational and logistical procedures. Yet they are extremely rich from a social and cultural point of view, and they come to constitute spaces which have their own structures of power.
The testimonies gathered over the course of this research raise a number of new questions. In particular, the strange reworking of collective memory they unveil shed light on the complex ways in which Italians and Romanians today see their past, after the historic watershed of 1989. As the Italian sociologist Devi Sacchetto reminds us on the subject of company relocations: “Behind the entrepreneurs and the managerial staff there is a great black hole: the end of real socialism, but even before that the loss of all forms of emancipation which do not derive solely from the acquisition of money and power”. The decline of the great utopias is omnipresent and today overhangs the expression of the possible in the politics of Europe.