Archita, Romania‹‹ / ››Overview

The remnants of the Saxon vineyards are still visible in the terraced hillsides of Transylvania. The German speaking Saxons first settled Archita in 1290. They imported their language, culture and agricultural methods, and stayed for nearly 700 years, living alongside the native Romanians. The economic dominance of the German speaking population meant that the Romanians were often employees of the Saxons.

The village thrived as an agricultural center until the 1970s and 1980s when the burgeoning cultural and linguistic nationalism, encouraged by Ceausescu's policies, became increasingly alienating for the German speaking minority. By the late 1980s, all but one of the Saxons in Archita had emigrated to West Germany.

Today, the remaining 600 villagers are a mixture of native Romanian and Roma people. The agriculture-based economy has collapsed due to cheap food imports flooding Romania from the EU agribusiness. The villagers survive through combination of government support and subsistence farming. Efforts are being made to create a cottage industry based on tourism and traditional agriculture and craft.

These photographs depict a cross-section of villagers—a group who must come to grips with their roles in a changed world.