“It was all that I could think of.”

Migration, youth, and folkloric entertainment in rural Romania


  • Valer Simion Cosma Museum of History and Art, Zalău, Romania
  • Theodor Constantiniu Folk Archive of the Romanian Academy Institute, Cluj-Napoca, Romania


muzică populară, folklore music, folk traditions, rural youth, cultural infrastructure, transnational migration, niche TV channels


A hybrid that originated in the traditional peasant music, Romanian popular music (muzică populară), as it is known from radio broadcasts, TV shows or live performances from all around the country, was developed by mixing the village music of the twentieth century with techniques and principles borrowed from the classical repertoire and other light genres. Muzica populară emerged in the interwar years, but was perfected and regulated by the communist regime, becoming one of the favorite genres of the rural and urban working class. After the fall of communism, it continues to have a great appeal among all age categories. Considering its popularity, our aim was to discover the motivations that lead the village youth of Romania to involve themselves in activities dealing with muzica populară, in particular, or with folklore and traditions, in general. To accomplish this, we conducted several interviews with young people from Sălaj county (Valcăul de Jos, Chieșd, Măeriște and Marin), from which a few patterns emerged: 1. the appearance of television channels dedicated exclusively to muzică populară created the context for their rapid familiarization with the genre; 2. because of the massive migration of the 2000s, many of them spent their childhood with their grandparents, who initiated their nephews into the consumption of muzică populară; 3. the youth motivate their involvement in activities dealing with folklore and rural traditions with arguments about their devotion to the local culture and their willingness and duty to preserve and promote it.

     If we want to look beyond the explanations provided by our informers, we can explain the success of muzică populară among young people by structural factors that are at work in the whole society, namely the lack of interest of post-communist authorities in building and/or maintaining a cultural and educational infrastructure in the rural areas. Without an established framework able to introduce them to various artistic and intellectual activities, in which they could further their interests and abilities, the rural youth are left with limited options, one of the most convenient being that of muzică populară and/or folk traditions. Thus, this paper aims to explore contemporary rural pop culture by considering the connection between the deterioration of the cultural infrastructure in rural areas, transnational migration and the exponential development of an industry devoted to the recent muzică populară.

Author Biography

Valer Simion Cosma, Museum of History and Art, Zalău, Romania

VALER SIMION COSMA (b. 1986) is a historian, anthropologist, publicist and cultural manager. He works as a scientific researcher at the County Museum of History and Art Zalău. For two years (2015-2017), he’s been a researcher in the project “East-West”. Vernacular religion on the boundary of Eastern and Western Christianity: continuity, changes and interactions ((Seventh Framework Programme –”Ideas” Specific programme – European Research Council) hosted by Ethnographic Institute of Hungarian Academy of Sciences from Budapest, Hungary. Founder of Center for the Study of Modernity and the Rural World (2016), founder of projects such as Telciu Summer Conference (2012) and Telciu Summer School (2016). His interests are the modernization of the rural world, history and the sociology of rural elites, the religiosity of the peasants, vernacular religion and the relation between modernity /  coloniality and religion in Eastern Europe, political economy, nationalism, populism and the political clientelism. Besides his academic work, he also contributed to the research and making of documentary films and theatre performances along artists as Alina Manolache,Vlad Petri, Gianina Cărbunariu, Maria Magdalena Ludewig, Adina Lazăr, Claudiu Lorand Maxim etc.




How to Cite

Cosma, V. S., & Constantiniu, T. (2022). “It was all that I could think of.” : Migration, youth, and folkloric entertainment in rural Romania . Studia Universitatis Babeș-Bolyai - Dramatica, 67(1), 55–80. Retrieved from https://dramatica.ro/index.php/j/article/view/238