The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben gives insight into the suspension of legal and ethical norms. Ultimately, his ‘states of exception’ occur quite often. I find that those brought about by the genre of the festschrift are of great interest. Specifically, this paper goes beyond legal concerns and claims that the making and the use-value of tribute/commemorative volumes are essentially states of exception. In other words, the conventions of the genre show that customary social relations are put on hold (and even disrupted) by celebrations to mark outstanding anniversaries. I argue that paying tribute to community members is a means to an end: it lays bare the relation between individuals and society. The written dialogue with peers and elders enables shared remembering among those looking back on the past. The opportunity to partake in the power of language is a way for all to remember their own kind and foundational figures alike. Conclusively, celebrating local histories is a resilient method of remembering and a means of top-down social control.
Onoriu Colăcel is Senior Lecturer in English at Ștefan cel Mare University of Suceava, Romania. He has written on the contemporary English novel and on the Romanian and Moldovan literary cultures and visual media. His authored books include Postcolonial Readings of Romanian Identity Narratives (2015) and The Romanian Cinema of Nationalism. Historical Films as Propaganda and Spectacle (2018).