This article explores the questions what is an ethno-national community and how is it understood in the Hungárián context. The focus is Iáid on ethnic iden-tification, group formation and maintenance and the importance of belonging. An important aspect of the analysis is that during the communist era the prob-lems of identity-building and ethnicity were ill-concealed or neglected, thus the Hungárián ethno-national community as a whole, has not had a chance yet to face the effects of the historical legacies of the 20th century. This paper is an introduction to my dissertation project that aims to compare the identification processes within the Hungárián territorial minority in Slovakia and the Hungárián diaspora community in Sweden.
Ethnic identifications are not eternally fixed. They are part of a continuous interplay between history, power and culture. Ethnic boundaries are main-tained by a limited set of cultural features but most ‘cultural matter’ is not constrained by such boundaries. The texture of myths, memories, values and symbols builds up a cultural substance of what is usually referred to as ‘col-lective memory.’ The manifestations of collective memory – certain traditions of cultural heritage – have been invented and they are readily naturalized as “historical”. Nevertheless, collective memory is selective and exclusionary of actual events, ideas, and memories of sets of persons who do not easily fit the alleged mainstream narrative of “who we were”.
The collective memory of Hungarians – embedded in the narration about “the nation”, united under the Holy Crown of St Stephen – is considered not simply as a cultural heritage or historical pást but as a mysterious, quasi sacred element at the core of the collectivity. Another habitus component of Hungárián ethnic identifications, that has assumed great importance in ethnic boundary creation and maintenance, is the Hungárián language.
The ‘Hungárián’ intelligetsia’s awareness about the protection of the language was facilitated by the process of modernization and a growing concern about the survival of the Hungárián language. The Hungárián language has, at least in the pást 200 years, played a functional role of differentiating between “us” and “them.” In minority contexts language remains the core of ethnicity in the case of those territoral (national) minorities whose numbers are considerable, for example the Hungarians in Slovakia and Transylvania; in other cases, liké in the case of the Hungarians in Burgerland or the Hungárián diaspora-communities throughout the world the Hungárián language has lost its essential character and Hungarianess have increasingly become limited to other hapitus-type knowledge.
The Hungárián communities outside Hungary are ‘products’ of the coun-try’s 20th century history. However, the era of communism has hindered the development of a debate about ‘who we are’ after Trianon, after the the cata-clysm of WWII. During the pást two decades different versions of a definition of the Hungárián nation’ have been designed and than re-defined. The national discourse makes a clear distinction between ‘Hungarians beyond borders’ of the Hungárián state, often referred to as national minorities, and the Hungárián diaspora communities. The motherland, as Hungary is oftentimes referred to in minority and diaspora contexts, takes very seriously its home-land role vis-f-vis its national minorities in the Carpathian Basin. As indicated in various statements, Hungarians beyond borders are seen as the spiritual extension of the Hungárián national community. This is why their ethno-nation-al identification deserves attention and is promoted in different ways. On the other hand the Hungárián diaspora communities deserve less attention from the mother-land. This paper does not intend to present “the end of the story” I chose rather to concentrate on the processes of inclusion and exclusion as different ways of mapping a nation.