Inhabiting the environment. Old and new practices, local knowledge and the usage of common pool resources in the de-industrializing Jiu Valley

This thesis explores how the transformation of work and livelihood in the region of Jiu Valley (Valea Jiului) in the decades immediately following the demise of the old socialist regime created new imaginaries of entitlement, legitimacy, shame and pride associated with attempts to ensure individuals’ and families’ economic survival and wellbeing. As the mines were gradually closed and made derelict, and people began shifting to the collection of scrap iron from the old mining facilities and later to the collection of mushrooms, flowers, wild fruits and other forest harvests, the social cleavage between Momârlani – descendants of the indigenous local population, seen as the ‘traditional’ owners of rights in land and territory in the valley, and Barabe – descendants of miners who began moving to the valley following the opening of the coal mines in the 19th century has been brought into focus. Using Ingold’s habitation perspective and contrasting it with post-socialist writings on work, I show how, through practice, the people’s awareness of their environment reaches unprecedented levels, revealing them as agents capable of meaningful engagement in the re-negotiation of entitlement over common resources.