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BANAT – A BORDERLINE PARADISE
A region at the borders of empires
Hundreds of writers (German, Hungarian, Romanian, Serbian, Italian, or Turkish) have been competing for centuries in an attempt to come up with memorable phrases that would define the impact of their encounter with the strange realm in the South-Eastern part of Central Europe – the Banat. At the beginning, there were those who put down whatever they saw, naively, amateurishly, the chroniclers and the travellers; then came the more rigorous and professional observers, the geographers, the historians, the ethnographers; last but not least, there were those with vivid imagination, the novelists and the poets. Almost all of them, irrespective of the period, tried to catch the specificity of this special, borderline territory. This fortunate and, at the same time, unfortunate location gave birth to a certain mentality, a sensibility, a lifestyle that only late modernity would describe and theorize, naming them, generically, „the borderline state”. The phrase was accurate since, starting with the Middle Ages, the Banat had always been at the periphery of kingdoms, empires, or states, trapped among borders.
With its quadrilateral shape, given by the rivers surrounding it (the Danube, the Maros, the Tisza, the Cerna Valley), like the ancient Eden, with a surface comparable with that of today’s Belgium (almost 30,000 square km), the Banat was, in turn, with its various districts, a province disputed by the Hungarian kingdom, by the Bulgarian czar, by Romanian pre-statal and statal formations (between the 9th and the 14th centuries), with its borders always exposed. As for Timișoara, the Banat’s future centre, it even became, at the beginning of the 14th century, the temporary capital city of the Angevine empire (between 1315-1323), the headquarters of Charles Robert of Anjou, King of Hungary, and an important centre of anti-Ottoman battles. It was a symbolical centre, though, practically and strategically placed at the periphery. A similar placement is reserved for the Banat after the Mohács battle (1526), and especially after Timișoara’s conquest by the Ottoman armies (1552), this time in the opposite camp that history alotted for it: little by little, the whole region becomes a pashalik, with Timișoara the centre of a vilayet made up of several sandjaks, some of them even outside the Banat. Both the city and the region lie, for more than 150 years, at the borders of the Ottoman Empire, in a way at the end of the world, causing a deep melancholy in the high officials for whom the Banat is an exile, though all Turkish chronicles mention Timișoara’s splendour and the richness of the region.
A totally different state of mind is dominant in the new conquerors of the Banat: the Habsburgs. After 1716, when Timișoara is freed by Prince Eugen of Savoy (the great commander of the Austrian armies and Leibniz’s admirer), following the Passarowits Peace (1718), the Banat becomes a „Crown Region”, a province of the Austrian Empire with a special status, placed temporarily under the direct coordination of the Vienna Court. This status was the consequence of a fortunate location: a strategic military, economical, political nucleus, placed at the border with the Ottoman Empire, as well as a commercial crossroads to the Balkans. This is a synthesis of the Banat’s situation in the 18th century: ”The province’s location along Europe’s main river line, in a period when the continental expansion is targeted towards the East, secured the continuous communication with the other territories of the empire, with Central Europe, and consolidated the traditional connections with the Balkans and the Romanian territories by the Danube. Geo-political considerations, as well as the monarchy’s domestic policies, contributed to the making of Banat’s special juridical status, becoming, since 1718, a domain of the Habsburg Crown, privileged in many ways, a quality that will considerably influence the history of the province in the 18th century, when the expansion towards the East started”.
This is the moment when the Banat’s new history begins, becoming the place where civilizations and cultures merge, in an accelerated rhythm, replacing the tradition with a new model. This modern construction is founded on a typically enlightened vision, specific to the Austrian Reformism, dictated by reason, pragmatism, cosmopolitanism, liberation with the help of education and technological progress. All these principles become sets of policies, ranging from the demographical ones (the successive waves of colonization), to the economical, financial, social, urbanistic, educational, or cultural ones. Many of them are innovative not only in this region, but all over the Empire or even in Europe. That’s why the Banat was repeatedly called the „laboratory” where various projects were successfully tested. Among them, the most spectacular projects were those related to the colonizing system and the application of some technologies (in agriculture, hydrology, industry, transportation, street illumination, etc.).
Though placed – again – at the borders of the empire, the Banat started to be perceived not as the end of the world, a barbarous Terra incognita, but, gradually, as a Promise Land, a Terra Nova, the Little America, even an Eldorado. It is obvious that these syntagms idealize and give an idyllic touch to a territory whose wilderness and lack of hospitality is only remembered by the first travellers and colonizers. But it is no less true that, ever since, the Banat has been the destination of thousands of people who had left their homes in search of prosperity, prepared for adventure in a remote and unknown land, whose main richness was not gold, though. Thus, more than 20 ethnic groups (in variable formations along history) have lived together, have acknowledged and accepted one another, have communicated and emulated one another, have cooperated and, sometimes, have fought together: Romanians, Serbians, Germans, Hungarians, Jews, Roma, Slovaks, Croatians, Bulgarians, Ukrainians, Poles, Italians, Turks, Tartars, Czechs, Greeks, Armenians, French, Russians, Arabs. There are no less than 8 confessions (Orthodox, Roman-Catholic, Greek-Catholic, Lutheran-Evangelic, Calvinist, Jewish, Neo-protestant, Islamic) in these communities, and the number of languages they have used reaches 20 (in totally different ratios in 2007 in comparison with 250, 150 and even 50 years ago).
Whatever this proportion in one epoch or another, all the communities have preserved the myth of the Banat as an interethnic paradise in their collective imagination (perpetuated in family or school education). Real history can only confirm the results of the survey conducted by ISIG, the prestigious sociological institute in Gorizia. According to their statistics, in comparison with other regions in the world where there is such a big ethnic diversity, the Banat is again unique in terms of its potential for ethnic or religious conflicts: close to zero.
Inside and outside the myth
Therefore, this is an exceptional, harmonious, solar, invigorating model of cohabitation. But what happened in the periods when nationalistic movements (including the extremist ones) occurred in the Banat, starting with the 19th century especially, during the Romantic period, inspired by the spirit of the 1848 Revolution? How did the Hungarian, German, Romanian, or Serbian ethnocentrism function between 1867-1918 (when the Banat was almost entirely under the administration of the dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy), or immediately after 1918 (when the Banat’s political and administrative map is reconfigured after the end of the First World War by the treaties of St. Germain-en-Laye, 1919 and Trianon, 1920), or between 1939-1944 (when the Banat – by now a territory mostly under the administration of the Romanian state — is troubled by the growing right-wing extremism)? Did it preserve that felicitous balance of cohabitation, of mutual recognition, of cultural transfer? Did it continue to work during the 50 years or so of communist dictatorship? An honest answer would be affirmative, even if it gives birth to a justified suspicion: isn’t this the result of the excessive promotion of a myth about the Banat’s unified spirit? Isn’t this the idealized and idyllic component of a historical reality, which was, in fact, much tenser, whose moments of crisis are concealed in order to perpetuate the pacifying model with an educational function? Don’t researchers focus too much on the moments of communication and interference among the ethnic communities, only to shift the attention from the periods of separation and enmity, of no genuine dialogue? We will try to sit on the fence, with one initial warning.
On the one hand, the various categories of sources (archives, newspaper excerpts, monographies of various ethnic communities, individual testimonies, autobiographical texts), anything that could make up a history which was experienced daily and interpreted factually, bear out the opinion of the supporters of the Banat’s harmonious model, despite the risk of fictionalizing it deliberately. The Banat didn’t witness an escalation of ethnic conflicts, other than isolated and sporadic, even in the moments of the most acute crises generated by the events of the two World Wars. The nationalistic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic manifestations in the public space had a mostly discursive character, visible especially in the press. They were never able to direct collective energies towards orchestrated acts of stigmatization, persecution and brutal repression of the ethnic otherness.
When, for example, anti-Semitic laws were applied on the Romanian territory, the Banat couldn’t afford to ignore them. But the concrete ways in which they were applied were much less severe than in other Romanian cities, such as Bucharest or Iași. The Jewish population’s deprivation of civil rights and properties was not accompanied, in Timișoara, by any act of vandalism, profanation of religious places, or pogroms. On the contrary, the city population’s gestures of solidarity and compassion were inscribed in a daily routine meant to continue and reconfirm, symbolically, a tradition of cohabitation.
We must, however, admit there were forms of successive persecution (caused, we dare say, by changes generated by a troubled history) by one ethnic community on another (or others). The tensions around a central (real or symbolic) position of various ethnicities, latent or manifest mostly at a discursive level, were present, even if, in the Banat, they didn’t acquire a violent, paroxysmal character. It is still a fact, though, that the dramatic consequences of „strong” manifestations of ethnic identity were quantifiable. The exiles (voluntary or imposed), a dramatic experience of the German, Jewish, Hungarian, or Romanian community meant just as many painful and undesired dislocations. We have in mind the deportation of an important segment of the German population to the USSR in 1945, the massive migration of the Hungarian population – after 1919 or 1990 – as well as the successive waves of German and Jewish migration after the Second World War until immediately after 1990. The consequences are visible even nowadays, covering several aspects that include the radical change of the Banat’s demographic configuration from an ethnic, religious, cultural, linguistic point of view.
Just as traumatic for the subjects (communities) suffering from persecution were the various forms of social exclusion of almost all historical periods until 1990, irrespective of the administration (for example, the selection made according to ethnic and political criteria, rather than according to merit in the official public space, the limitation of the cultural manifestation of various ethnic communities, the repeated restriction of the national minorities’ access to the community’s real or symbolic resources). Not to mention the various forms of political, social, or trans-ethnic persecution, manifest especially during the communist totalitarian regime. Among them, the most ample and dramatic form of persecution was the deportation, in 1953, of thousands of Romanian, German, or Serbian families from the Banat’s villages at the border with Yugoslavia, in the south-eastern part of Romania, to the Bărăgan plains).
Nevertheless, we argue that the Banat had to obey the imperatives of various legislations that were part of a certain state policy during the 20th century (whether we refer to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Romanian Kingdom or the communist dictatorship of post-war Romania). Only a comparative analysis of the manner in which other Romanian regions have interpreted and applied, in the past 150 years, the imperatives of various power nuclei (the policies of discrimination and persecution on ethnic, racial, religious, linguistic, cultural grounds) can indicate very clearly that the Banat is, again, an exception in terms of its „soft” implementation of the laws. This proves the territory’s basic incapacity of turning latent tensions into radical manifestations and justifies the attempts to turn its solar-harmonious dimension into a myth.
In the almost 50 years of communism (of Stalinist essence: 1948-1964 and then the national-communism of Ceaușescu’s epoch: 1965-1989), the Banat preserved a trace of its once privileged position (from an economical, social, cultural point of view) in the Romanian context, due to its own traditions and the vicinity of two states (Hungary and Yugoslavia) who enjoyed more lenient communist regimes than the domestic one, as well as the relatively intense communication with the West through various channels (economy, media, tourism, etc.). Still, the region could not escape an oppressive regime, which exerted its hegemony at the level of the freedom of speech (individual or collective). The limitation and control had serious repercussions on all forms of individual or group creativity. The tension building up along the decades, as well as the Banat’s specific model of social and cultural liberation caused the 1989 uprising that did away with Romania’s dictatorial system to start in Timișoara. After 1989, Timișoara gained a position of leadership in the Romanian civil rights movement by implementing a genuine democracy, gaining the status of a dynamic city, prepared for the European integration from an economical, administrative, social and cultural point of view. The syntagm „the Timișoara model” is still valid today, being given a positive connotation in Romania’s public discourse
Banat’s culture. A few prejudices to overcome
Among the numerous prejudices about the kind of culture promoted in the Banat, there is one particularly resistent and difficult to dismantle: one according to which the region which gained itself the reputation of an economical and social Eldorado is rather sterile in terms of exceptional creativity. But this is hard to accept if we count the number of writers, musicians, artists, scientists whose name is somehow linked to the Banat, as a native region, a territory linked to a certain period in their lives, or to several emotional liaisons. The list is impressive. It can start with a sacred figure, that of Saint Gerard (San Gerardo Sagredo, Sankt Gerhard, Gellért) and end, for example, with the name of the inventor of the hydrogen bomb, Edward Teller. Among them, alphabetically: Endre Ady, Béla Bartok, János Bolyai, George Călinescu, Livius Ciocârlie, Miloš Crnjanski, Șerban Foarță, Arnold Hauser, Frieda Kahlo, Károly Kerényi, Danilo Kiš, Robert Klein, Nikolaus Lenau, Sándor Márai, Adam Müller-Guttenbrunn, Herta Müller, Robert Musil, Camil Petrescu, Vasko Popa, Rainer Maria Rilke, Ioan Slavici, Petre Stoica, Sorin Titel.
It is no less true, however, that, with a few exceptions, most of the above-mentioned personalities created their work outside the Banat. The region’s presence as a distinctive topos is not decisive in the economy of the prose or poetry of all world famous writers we mentioned, with some exceptions, again. So, any proud attempt to reclaim the celebrated names’ appurtenance of Banat’s patrimony should be doubled by a degree of objective lucidity. Otherwise, such lists could only reveal a pernicious provincial complex.
But we should give the Banat a chance. That of a special creativity, characterized not so much by exceptional individual achievements in the literary-artistic field (though the few examples could prove the opposite), but by an ample social basis for the cultural act, understood in an extensive manner. If we accept this premise, we can state – in a postmodernist spirit – that the Banat has a patrimony just as important as that of any region who boasts at least two or three artistic geniuses. Brâncuși, Cioran, Enescu, Ionescu – to give only four examples of what Romania contributed to world culture – are not natives of the Banat. Bartok and Crnjanski are so, due to their origins or a segment of their education, but they create their major work outside the historical Banat, even if an authentic nostalgia for this territory can be easily traced in their texts. Timișoara, the Banat’s „capital”, cannot be compared, from the point of view of artistic excellence – at least until the past 40 years – with other regional nuclei in Central Europe, such as Trieste or Chernovtsy. Or – on the Romanian territory – with Iași or Cluj, two major cultural cities.
In our opinion, this situation should be tackled from a different angle than that offered by a strictly aesthetic judgement (in the writers’ and artists’ case). The Banat secures its cultural specificity with the help of a double model: one open not so much to the elite culture, but to a widely received one, which is emancipatory, which has a remarkable social basis, and one which is inter-cultural. They are both characterized by an inclination towards dialogue, by a civilizing effort that belongs to the European modernity. In their interdependence and complementarity, they have worked by virtue of being stimulated by several elements: the level of education in the urban and rural population, doubled by the pedagogical value attributed to culture, most inhabitants’ plurilingualism, the institutionalization of culture, the propensity towards forms of community culture (of trans-ethnic association and solidarity).
Let us start with what Virgil Nemoianu, the Romanian professor of comparative literature at the Catholic University of Washington, defined as “the ethos of education” and described as an essential component of the pattern of Central European culture, which has a special accent in the Banat. This general attitude towards education, available at all social levels, thus reaching beyond class distinctions, is generated, according to Virgil Nemoianu, by several factors, among which, against the background of Central Europe’s modernizing efforts starting with the 18thth century. To these, we may add the Catholic influence, which, with the Theresian support, promoted a lifestyle inclined towards the values of the community and solidarity, rather than one focusing on individualism and competition. century, the most significant are: the rationalist project of governing, inspired by the Enlightenment, the Weimar neoclassicism and neohumanism in the Central European space, the institutionalization of Biedermeier concepts and attitudes, especially between 1815-1848, persistent until the first decades of the 20
The most spectacular consequence of this liberating tendency is the degree not so much of high education, but the extent of basic education in both urban and rural population in this Central European region. There are two traits that single out the Banat successfully in terms of the institutionalization of education: the early character of these efforts and their extension. In what concerns the extensive character of schooling with the systematic organization of a network of lay education in the region, it is part of the patrimony of the 18th century benefits occasioned by the Habsburgs’ conquest of the Banat. The effects of an enlightened educational policy initiated by the Court of Vienna are immediately visible. Perpetuated along time, even if the ideological and political contexts are different, this constant trait will give Timișoara and the Banat a privileged position.
The result is that, in the first half of the 19th century, “especially after 1829, when the compulsory education was introduced in the confined region, school attendance was 100%. The situation is exceptional, in comparison with other Romanian provinces or with other Austro-Hungarian or European territories. Around Vienna, the attendance was similar to that in the Banat; in England and Wales, ‘the borders of literacy’ reached approx. 67%, in Scotland 77-78%, in France 50%, with major differences between regions inside the same country”. It is true that the documents refer to the confined region, that is only a part of the Banat: a territory made up of a rich network of villages and small towns at the south-eastern border of the Empire, with a mostly rural population, educated, enjoying a series of economical, administrative, or social privileges. But this detail does not mar our demonstration. On the contrary.
The “centre” doesn’t give up its position either. At the middle of the 19th century, Timișoara, for example, had a varied pre-school, primary and secondary schooling system – both lay and religious – in such languages as German, Hungarian, Romanian, Serbian, Greek, and Hebrew. Resort statistics conclude that, in that period, there was a school for every 1,200th inhabitant of Timișoara. This placed the city among those in Central Europe with a high standard of education. Nowadays, more than a century later, it should be noted that the positive repercussions of this inclination towards education are still visible, Timișoara having preserved its privileged position.
The same ethos of education, the same trust in the emancipatory virtues of schooling determine the proliferation of an extremely varied didactic-pedagogical literature: from digests of science (in leaflets, calendars, almanacs), to textbooks, compendia, collections of local history, monographies of towns and institutions, travel books, etc. Even if the phenomenon is specific to the entire Central European space, two factors single out the Banat: on the one hand, it is the impressive amount of this editorial production (let us not forget we put together volumes published in Romanian, Serbian, German, Hungarian, Slovak, Czech, Hebrew and, currently, Romani); on the other hand, it is the unusual duration of this phenomenon in the Banat. The rationalist and, significantly, “illuminating” model of education continues to spread in the Banat long after the Enlightenment. A huge bibliography bears it out even today, though the ideological factors have changed. The model’s perpetuation was secured basically through family education, but also with the help of a series of institutions we are going to mention here.
The third element determining the Banat’s cultural specificity is the multilingualism of the intellectual elites, but also of the majority of the citizens, especially until the years after the Second World War (when the ethnic configuration of the region is considerably different after the departure of the Germans and of the Jewish community and as a result of the new colonizations with Romanian or Hungarian population from other regions of the country). Bi-, tri- or even quadrilingualism was a decisive factor of communication and sharing among the ethnic communities in the Banat, who became familiar with one another directly or with the help of translations. This access to the Other’s cultural patrimony was an exceptional opportunity, which favoured the configuration of a model of harmonious cohabitation. It was supported by the intense activity of the bridge-writers, who wrote in two or three languages or translated one literature into another. There is a series of writers who played an important part as linkers of cultures, due to their involvement in a common cultural project: Zoltán Franyó, Franz Liebhard, Ioan Stoia Udrea, Petru Sfetca, Károly Endre, Wilhelm Stepper Tristis, René Fülöp Miller, Andreas Lillin, József Méliusz, Petre Stoica, Adám Anavi, Maria Pongrácz-Popescu, Annemarie Podlipny-Hehn, Ioan Radin Peianov, Dușan Baiszki, János Szekernyés, Șerban Foarță and Ildikó Gabos.
What is also worth mentioning here is the existence, in the Banat, of an impressive number of bi- or trilingual publications, which appeared between 1870 and 1942 – over 100!, accompanied by an esperanto journal in the inter-war period. Over 30 journals have a distinctive cultural profile, while over 50 devote entire pages to culture. The desire to know each other, the quick access to the information offered by neighbouring communities generated specific forms of cultural dialogue and transfer.
Most of them were institutionalized at an early stage in the Banat, an impressive phenomenon, again, in terms of its ample and sometimes pioneering character. This is yet another sign of a mentality based on reason, efficiency, pragmatism. It is not by accident, then, that the first public library (with a reading room) in the Austro-Hungarian Empire was opened in Timișoara by Josef Klapka in 1815. Or that Temeswarer Nachtrichten is, on April 18 1771, the first press organ to publish on the territory of today’s Romania, while the printing press releasing it is also the first one of its kind. The early appearance of several periodicals (ever since the end of the 18th century) makes the Banat, Timișoara respectively, the pioneer not only of several technological advances on the territory of today’s Romania, but also of cultural events of great importance. The number of newspapers and magazines published in German, Hungarian, Romanian and Serbian increases gradually in the second half of the 19th century, and so does the number of printing houses (32), while, during the inter-war period, Timișoara would have 29 printing houses and 125 periodicals in Romanian, 65 in German, 104 in Hungarian, 1 in Serbian. The Banat’s editorial production is, until the end of the Second World War, not only large, but also extremely varied.
During the communist period (1948-1989), the number and diversity of publishers, periodicals and printing presses decrease dramatically in the Banat only to come back to its initial efferverscence after 1989. In the first four months after the revolution (January-May 1990) there appeared no fewer than 40 journals! Focusing especially on the cultural publications or those devoting a few pages or columns to culture on a regular basis, we estimated that such periodicals reached the number of 50 in the year 2004 and among them 12 have an overt literary profile (7 in Romanian, 2 in Hungarian, and 1 in German, Serbian, and Slovak, the last being bilingual). We must also mention that, starting with 1990, the only publication devoted to the culture of the Roma community appeared here (even if it had only three issues).
Another item of the local cultural patrimony which is institutionalized, singling out the region among others, is the theatre. Currently, the three counties belonging to the historical Banat in Romania (Timiș, Caraș-Severin and Arad) have 7 state theatres, four of which perform in Timișoara (the Romanian, the Hungarian, the German, and the puppet theatres). They are accompanied by a National Opera and two philharmonic orchestras. Last but not least, the 250 public libraries (city, town and village institutions), the 30 museums of national importance in the urban as well as rural communities, the 25 art galleries can account – at least partially – for a positive tendency, stimulating the cultural act which has such a unique tradition in the Banat.
A similar distinctiveness of the region can be noticed in the inclination towards associative cultural forms, where solidarity was achieved beyond ethnic and identity barriers. Starting especially from the second half of the 19th century, hundreds of milieus were provided for the various cultures to meet and communicate. The cultural societies, the musical troops (choirs, brass bands, small symphonic orchestras), amateur theatrical troops, scientific societies, the cultural associations around certain guilds, literary cafés, reading sessions, literary meetings, the artists’ professional unions (for writers, artists, architects, musicians, etc.), and, after 1989, the numerous cultural foundations had a cohesive effect, perpetuating a pattern of behaviour. Its specificity is a set of values shared collectively and transmitted from one generation to another: civility, politeness, the respectful interest in the others’ culture. That is why many cultural forms of association initiated and settled the dialogue, uniting various ethnic communities around common projects.
We may complete this image of creative wealth, in a provisional evaluation, mentioning there have been over 50,000 volumes printed in five languages (Romanian, German, Hungarian, Serbian, Slovak) in the Banat only during the 20th century. Among them, over 30,000 belong to the literary domain per se: prose, poetry, drama, memoirs, essay, etc. The volumes are signed by writers claimed by the respective national literary histories, which place them on various levels in the aesthetic hierarchy (ranging from “classics”, to, say, minor authors). But an equally substantial production is owed to amateurs, both urban and rural. The phenomenon is already under theoretical scrutiny, due to the unmistakable style and documentation value of the hundreds of volumes signed, for example, by peasant-writers in Romanian.
Therefore, the Banat has an impressive cultural offer, overwhelming in quantity rather than its exceptional, innovative character. This is the prejudice we are trying to dismantle. The Banat and its centre, Timișoara, have not only been spaces of advanced civilization, animated by mercantilism and utilitarianism, or mere loci of minor and mediocre culture, barren soils for a competitive professional artistic creativity. If we take into consideration (in an attempt like the one offered in this volume) the literary peaks in the Banat of the inter-war period and, moreover, if an honest recognition is performed of what Romania’s culture owes to certain moments of innovative creativity (starting with the 60s and ending with the present moment), in various domains, we will notice that Timișoara and the Banat’s contribution is far from modest. Neo-avant-garde tendencies in fine arts, architecture, music, literature, choreography, modern advances in literary research, psychology, anthropology have transformed Timișoara into one of the most dynamic and innovative cities in the region. The balanced, orderly, disciplined province, this ancient Eldorado in the south-east of Central Europe, often placed at the periphery by history, has always found enough resources to rise from its ashes. Reality and myth, a borderline territory, stirring imagination, it continues to exert its centripetal force. And to attract incessantly.
(excerpts from the study Le Banat – Un Paradis aux confins, [in vol.] Le Banat – Un Eldorado aux confins, Paris, Sorbonne (Univ. Paris IV), CIRCE, 2007.
 See Mihai Spăriosu, The Wreath of Wild Olive: Play, Liminality, and the Study of Literature, New York, Suny Press, 1997
 See Cristina Feneșan, Cultura otomană a vilayetului Timișoara (1552-1716), Timișoara, Editura de Vest, 2004, pp.25-55
 Nicolae Bocșan, Contribuții la istoria iluminismului românesc, Facla, Timișoara, 1986, pp. 8-9
 See Futuribili, no. 2, 1994, Gorizia, I.S.I.G.
 The almost 30,000 km2 of the historical Banat were distributed as follows: approx.19,000 km2 — to Romania, a little more than 9,000 km2 — to Serbia and about 300 km2 — to Hungary. This proportion is still valid today.
 See Victor Neumann, Istoria evreilor din Banat. O mărturie a multi- și interculturalității Europei oriental-centrale, București, Atlas-Du Style, 1999; Smaranda Vultur (coord.), Memoria salvată,, Iași, Polirom, 2002 Evreii din Banat, ieri și azi
 See also our study [Adriana Babeți], Provincia inter confinia. Un Paradis aux confins, le Banat, in Cultures d’Europe Centrale, no. 4, Centre Interdisciplinaire de Recherches Centre-Européenne, Université de Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV), 2002, pp.225-240
 Virgil Nemoianu, Cazul etosului central-european, in vol. Europa Centrală. Nevroze, dileme utopii (coord. Adriana Babeți and Cornel Ungureanu), Iași, Polirom, 1997, pp 168-194; the study first appeared in „Utrecht Publications in General and Comparative Literature Series”, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, John Benjamins Publishing Co., 1993, vol. 31, entitled Learning over Classes:The Case of the Central-European Ethos.
 The first form of education (confessional, in Latin) in the Banat dates back in the 11th century. It is linked to the moment of the appointment, by king Stephan, of the Benedictine monk Gerardo as Bishop of Cenad (Morisena, Csanád) at the beginning of the 11th century. According to some historians, the first Orthodox schools (Romanian and Serbian) also appear in the monastic environment of the 11th century.
 Nicolae Bocșan, Contribuții…, pp. 124-125
 The evolution of the level of elementary schooling indicates an ever lower percentage of urban illiteracy: from 34.12% in 1870 to 16.28 % in 1910, which places Timișoara in the year 1900, for instance, among Hungary’s first cities in terms of its citizens’ level of education (80.71% literacy), with Budapest (87.6%) and Debrecen (81.4%) only a little ahead. In the inter-war period, Timișoara preserves the same standard. The level of literacy in 1930 (91.1%), to give an example, places it among the first three cities in Romania in terms of literacy, after Brașov and Sibiu and ahead of the capital city or other prestigious and traditional cultural centres (Iași, Chernovtsy, Cluj etc.). (apud. Ioan Munteanu, Rodica Munteanu, Timișoara. Monografie, Timișoara, Mirton, 2002).
 In the year 2000, for example, there are 47 primary and secondary schools in Timișoara and 34 highschools (among them the German highschool “Nikolaus Lenau”, the Hungarian highschools “Bartok Bela”, the Serbian Highschool “Dositei Obradovici”, the French highschool “Jean Louis Calderon”, the English highschool “William Shakespeare”). This is doubled by the presence of an important university centre, with four state universities, which, in the year 2000, had 30 faculties, with more than 150 specializations. The number of students in the state academic network is over 30,000, while the teachers’ number is close to 3000.
 See Nicolae Bocșan, op. cit., chapter Cultură și societate. Cartea și Educație; pan-pedagogism and Victor Țârcovnicu, Istoria învățământuluidin Banat până la anul 1800, București, Editura Didactică și Pedagogică, 1978.
 See Alin Gavreliuc, Mentalitate și societate. Cartografii ale imaginarului identitar din Banatul contemporan, Timișoara, Editura Universității de Vest, 2003
 See Victor Neumann, Identități multiple în Europa regiunilor. Interculturalitatea Banatului, Timișoara, Hestia, 1997
 See Cornel Ungureanu, Mitteleurope periferiilor, Iași, Polirom, 2002.
 apud. Nicolae Ilieșiu, Timișoara.Monografie istorică, Timișoara, 1943.
We can mention here the benefits of efforts made by several research groups to write dictionaries or anthologies of the literature produced in the Banat in all the five languages (Romanian, German, Serbian, Hungarian, Slovak). They include the anthological and encyclopaedic work of the Centre of Central and South-Eastern European Studies “The Third Europe”, as well as the Dictionary of the Banat Writers (general editor Alexandru Ruja, section editors Horst Fassel, János Szekernyés, Jiva Milin, Maria Dagmar Anoca, elaborated by the Department of Romanian and Comparative Literature, the Faculty of Letters, History and Theology, the West University of Timișoara, Editura UVT, 2005 ).
 Elaborated by a research group of „The Third Europe” Foundation in the project The Urban Culture of Memory in Central Europe, Mitteleuropazentrum, Dresden (2004-2006).
 Scriitori țărani din Banat (anthology edited by Gabriel Țepelea), Timișoara, Facla, 1975.