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Accepted Paper:

Changing borders – flexible boundaries. Religion, ethnicity and language on a former Eastern European borderland  
Eszter Győrfy (Institute of Ethnology, Budapest)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines a village community in the historical border zone of Hungary and Romania, focusing on the turbulent changes of the 20th century (e.g. redrawn borders, religious conversions) and the parallel processes of drawing and redrawing religious and ethnic boundaries within the community.

Paper long abstract:

The paper examines a village community located in the religious, linguistic and ethnic contact zone on the historical border of Hungary and Romania. Due to long-term acculturation and assimilation processes among the Romanian and Hungarian populations settling here, a specific “intermediate”, mixed culture and identity came into being. To this day the most important element of the identification of the locals is that of in-between-ness, a distinctive characteristic that is almost ethnic in quality. In the place of this rather uncertain quality, ecclesiastic and secular elites in the second half of the 20th century have sought to establish clear-cut, homogeneous religious and national affiliations. However, the majority of locals still cannot fully identify with either Hungarians or Romanians.

The religious and ethnic attachments of the locals were influenced by the turbulent historical-political processes of the 20th century (including redrawn state borders, changing political regimes, new linguistic norms, forced or voluntary religious conversions). Political changes and the attendant physical redrawing of borders in each case created new situations for the locals. The combination of the transformations of secular and ecclesiastic power relations, and of independent demographic, linguistic and social changes played an important role in another process: drawing and redrawing boundaries within the community. The latter – creation, strengthening, reinterpretation and reproduction of boundaries – continues to take place in the present. I intend to present these two processes in tandem, thus highlighting their interconnections.

Panel Poli05
Cultural, linguistic, and political divides in a time of crisis: examining the use of everyday folklore in the rhetoric of racial and state boundaries
  Session 1 Friday 9 June, 2023, -