Komárno/Komárom and Šamorín/Somorja, Forum Minority Research Institute, 2020, 356 p.
The 22nd Yearbook of the Centre for European Ethnology of Forum Minority Research Institute, now published, is also a festschrift to three colleagues, Kincső Verebély, Ilona L. Juhász, and Vilmos Voigt, to honour their 75th, 60th, and 80th birthday, respectively. The book, like the earlier ones in the series, contains papers based on current research on people(s) along and around the River Danube, as well as the ethnography of Hungarians in Slovakia. The present volume includes 17 academic papers and two minor ones, written in Hungarian, German, and French. On the one hand, however, no primary sources have been published in the volume, which, on the other hand, includes some (critical) reviews, and (despite the COVID-19 situation) The Chronicle, too, has some recent news to share with the audience. Some of the papers published in this volume are written versions of oral presentations held at the conference entit led 1918/1920–2019 – Neue Staatsgrenzen und die Folgen für gewachsene Kulturland schaften im Donau-Karpatenraum. Eine Bilanz nach 100 Jahren (Az új államhatárok (1918/1920) következményei a Kárpát-medencében, New state boundaries and their consequences for the existing cultural landscape in the Carpathian Basin) Komárno/ Ko márom, 25-26 September, 2019. The conference was bilingual, i.e. German and English.
The yearbook, somewhat irregularly, opens with the personal notes by József Liszka, greeting the celebrated honoured ones by remembering an old story that all participants share. The paper to follow is concerned with the current situation, as well as the issues of Romanian ethnological research by folklorist and ethnologist Ioana Fruntelată. The first thematic section includes a paper written in French, by Robert M. Kerr — an etymological study of the relationship between Hebrew Tophet “Valley of Hinnom” (i.e. “Gehenna”) and Mophet “Divine Miracle”. Lars Dencik, writing in German, discusses the religious, social, and political changes affecting Slovakia’s Jews in the period between the two World Wars. Finally, Szilvia Czingel discusses the relationship of Hungarian-speaking Jews to philanthropism, describing the practice of Mitzvah during the period between the early 19th century through the Holocaust. She uses personal communication as a means of investigation.
The next part starts with Annabella Gecse’s essay, providing an overview of researchers’ options as far as the religious and erthnographic analysis of Gemer/ Gömör’s19Roman Catholic settlements (villages) is concerned. The essay to follow, by Zoltán Klamár, supplements his paper in the 2019 volume of the series, written about the sacral small monuments at Kartal and the inhabitants’ making use of available space and room, by providing information about the current trends and practices, observable since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first paper of the volume on popular culture, by Máté Csanda, analyzes Szabolcs Kiss Pál’s docu-fiction video The Rise of the Fallen Feather (A lehullott toll felemelkedése) reflecting upon how (ethnic) nationalism appears in fine art genres. Next, Zoltán Magyar’s paper studies the motif of giving a gift in Hungarian folklore. As far as the material aspects of ethnology are concerned, the reader is introduced to the topic by Krisztián Ungváry, writing on the cultural landscape of the Tokaj region, including the changes it has undergone. Gyula Viga, then, shows to the reader the world of small restaurants and cafés in the region known as scrutinizing, most of all, how they have affected culinary culture in the recent decades. Finally, Péter Vataščin gives interested readers a press review on the appearance of the idea of collectivization in Új Szó.311
The last part includes papers, chiefly in German, that are written versions of oral papers presented at the conference we mentioned above. The first author to mention is László Öllös, writing on the issue of multiple identity, who explains that the nation-state, if it defines itself with reference to a predominant national identity, regards multiple identities as transitional phenomena, which leads to assimilation, i.e. the disappearance of non-predominant identities in two or three generations’ time. This point of view fails to take into consideration that identities cannot be strictly separated, as people with a double identity are familiar with both cultures, understanding and regarding both as their own. The author concludes his paper by expressing his hope that the principle of mutually non-exclusive identities may even enable the creation of a supra-national European political community.
Erzsébet D. Molnár’s essay discusses the deportation of Germans and Hungarians from the region of Subcarpathia (also known as Transcarpathia) between 1944 and 1946. Michael Geistlinger discusses the effect of the Ukrainian Language Act of 2019 on the language use of the country’s minorities. Meinolf Arens gives an overview of the history of Ruthenians in the Carpathian Basin. Hans Hedrich provides an exciting travel report in the area around the Hungarian-Ukrainian-Romanian border. Finally, Viktor Fehér’s analysis (in Hungarian) attempts to capture the revival processes of local identity and the phenomena connected to collective local memory by giving a presentation of the memorial park known as Mini-Yugoslavia in Subotica/ Szabadka (Serbia).
Franz Sz. Horváth, using an illuminating example, gives a presentation on the “narrative of victimization”, still predominant in the Hungarian interpretation of history. The volume also includes a Hungarian translation of Daniela Kapitáňová’s excellent essay Their Komárno, my Trianon. Her paper is a faithful reflection of the atmosphere that dominated the Hungarian-Slovak relations during the Mečiar era and some years after.
The volume, then, after a historiographic translation, contains studies on Jewish culture and phenomena concerning popular religious practice. The reader is then presented with the results of research on topics such as folklore and material aspects of ethnography (culinary and winemaking culture), as well as (connected to the above-mentioned conference) the history in the past century of European communities that found themselves in a minority situation after World War and the current issues they are facing. To sum up, the yearbook presents research on the ethnology of the Carpathian Basin, seeking answers to topical questions, and contributing to an understanding and interpretation of the culture (cultures) of the region.