The cultural and ideological phenomenon of Traco- and later Daco-mania was a persistent and constant presence in twentieth century Romania, having been embraced both by the educated as well as lower layers of society and reviving the tradition of a certain type of nationalism, typical for the cultures claiming the entitlement to a certain identity. This phenomenon is not singular; there are similar akin historical theses informing various ideologies at international level. In Romania, this trend was largely rejected by the scientific community, which has succeeded to push it into the realm of pseudo-sciences. Nowadays there is a considerable opposition towards Daco-mania. However, the scientific community has failed to confront effectively its theories and hypotheses.
In the past, Traco-mania and recently Daco-mania were states of mind rather than clearly articulated attitudes and their promoters have not constituted cultural or political groups or when they succeeded to organize themselves, the results were ephemeral. As a result, there was no preoccupation for the systematic collection of documents or creation of research institutions which could have put forward the doctrines and documents of this orientation. The absence of a sound documentary basis was filled with a series of ready-made versions of apocryphal history which have temporarily succeeded to take hold during the last fifty years with the help of the political power, sympathy from a considerable part of the public, and multiple diffusion networks. The substitution of historical research with the political monopoly on public opinion has favored this ideological trend. Another factor, which increased its visibility, was its controversial character, stirred by its rather conservative treatment and the low level of public debate in Romania. The examination of the Dacologic trend from the historiographic Latinism to the Dacist orientation of the Romantic writers and the reconstruction of the theory of continuity reveals the consequences of the intrusions of political power in some cases, or the study of history by individuals lacking formal training in historical research, which have produced opposite results. Although these actions were meant as respectable approaches, the massive intrusion of amateurs has rendered Dacology an “esoteric” science.
Contemporary promoters of Daco-mania have taken advantage of the research gaps of a vast chronological interval in order to put forward theories and hypotheses insufficiently structured or scientifically verifiable and thus feeding an ancestral need for identity and sense of social, ethnic, religious/ideologic membership of individuals, mostly when the “official” social and political mechanisms fail to accomplish it. A complex of factors such as the accessibility, vulgar language, psychological effect combined with the poor economic situation, shallowness of textbooks, lack of a scientific literature for popularization of Ancient European and local history, or the insistence on the spectacular side of it have contributted to attract the attention of teenagers, who constitute the bulk of its target audience.
The reaction of the scientific community to these developments was quantitatively disproportionate. Although Romanian historiography has produced sound works on these subjects, it has largely ignored the need for historical education of the wider public, which was treated with arrogance and superiority. The Dacian history became fit for nationalist abuse through its insufficient knowledge and detailed and popular explanation. The bulk of the secondary literature was produced fifty years ago, being nowadays somwhat outdated and obsolete. Although there are great differences between generations, perspectives, understanding, and conceiving of themes, one must admit that there is nowadys a market for scientific and historical information. In this market are participating both generators of information as well as consumers. This dialogue is entering a vicious circle due to the reticence towards transdiscipilnarity and the traditional complex of “ivory tower” of some researchers.
Author: Cătălin Borangic, „1 Decembrie 1918” University, Alba Iulia, Romania