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  • Rebuilding community memory: Raluca Munteanu

    Posted on March 7, 2018

    Raluca Munteanu, Project Co-ordinator, Pro Patrimonio, Romania

    “People don’t realise that Romania has lost more heritage buildings in the last 20 years than in the Communist period. It’s like Syria, but without war.  And the reason for this is lack of education and the loss of local identity.”

    What is your job?

    I am architect and I work for the Pro Patrimonio foundation as a project coordinator.

    How long have you been working for your organisation?

    I’ve been working for Pro Patrimonio since 2011. I was invited to join the team by the Vice President, Serban Sturdza, with whom I’ve been collaborating since 2005. Our common passion for heritage, traditional crafts and cultural landscape were the main reason to start working together.

    What inspires you most about what you do?

    The foundation was started in 2000 by the architect Serban Cantacuzino and from 2010 it is led by another architect, Serban Sturdza.  Both are great personalities and role models in this field.  Since I joined the team, I have learned such a lot and feel that the work of Pro Patrimonio is really beginning to show great results. I am so happy I made this decision!

    Why do you think your work is so important?

    People don’t realise that Romania has lost more heritage buildings in the last 20 years than in the Communist period. It’s like Syria, but without war.  And the reason for this is lack of education and the loss of local identity.

    I do this work in the hope of changing things by involving people more and rebuilding the collective memory of the communities. I had the fortune to study abroad where I learned how heritage and landscape influence the people and provide a high quality environment.  I chose to come back in my country after I finished my studies to apply what I have learned.

    What’s it like working as a woman in your organisation?

    The Pro Patrimonio team is made up mostly of women. It is a good and friendly working atmosphere.  The volunteers participating in our projects are also mainly women.

    Do you think the industry you work in has changed over the last 100 years for women?

    Now Romania is facing a very difficult period: Corruption is starting to demolish the real democracy of the state.  In 2018 the first female Prime Minister began to govern the country. Unfortunately, she is not a good example as she does not appreciate culture, lacks professional knowledge and has no vision for the future … At the same time, there are high levels of domestic abuse in our society and social protection is mainly carried out by non-governmental organisations.  It’s the same for architecture and heritage protection – a rather neglected field.   Professionally, men and women are fairly equal but our society is still very traditional and so there is less female presence in major projects or decisions.

    100 years ago, architecture was a profession dominated by men.  This was also when the modern state of Romania was founded.  Alongside the important men who modernised the state and the society, there were some important female figures, especially in the fields of heritage, tradition and architecture.  During the forty years of Communism (1949-1989), architecture was controlled by the state and used as a ideological and propagandistic instrument. Heritage was also used to manipulate history and to destroy resistance (no memory, no resistance).

    What question would you like to ask another inspiration woman from one of our international organisations?

    What’s the best way to change people’s image of heritage: From old places standing in the way of modern life to having real economic and social value?

    What is Pro Patrimonio?

    The Pro Patrimonio Foundation – Romania’s National Trust – is an international non-profit organization with branches in Romania, UK and France, formally established in 2000.   You can even join an INTO working holiday hosted by Pro Patrimonio!

    The goals of the Foundation are to save, preserve and restore the architectural and cultural heritage of Romania. Pro Patrimonio lobbies for the protection of Romania’s existing cultural heritage, aiming to teach people to appreciate its value and to provide support for the restoration and re-use of historic buildings. The foundation tries to connect them with a cultural and economic network, respecting traditional craftsmanship and the use of appropriate construction techniques.

    The foundation’s projects have already saved an important number of buildings that would have otherwise found their end, missing Romania’s cultural heritage of pieces of valuable history.

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