Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán’s xenophobia rejects the country’s multi-ethnic history

By Pál Nyíri    My son and I have come to see the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble’s show An Evocation of Subcarpathia. According to the introduction to the venerable troupe’s new show, it wants to showcase the multicultural musical and dance heritage of the Western Ukrainian region that formerly belonged to Czechoslovakia and, before then, Hungary, and had a mixed population that included Ruthenians, Slovaks, Hungarians, Romanians, Jews, Gypsies, and Hutsuls. That heritage – juxtaposed rather than hierarchically arranged, the text emphasises – is displayed in the folk dresses of the performers and the languages they sing in (including, counterfactually, Hebrew). …

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Hungarian Association for Migrants condemns PM Orbán’s take on the Charlie Hebdo killings

In a response to the Charlie Hebdo killings, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán recently did a television speech in which he made some rather far-reaching statements on immigration in Europe which caused consternation among some – even though he probably also earned the approval of others. Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology staff member Pál Nyiri is a member of Menedék, the ‘Hungarian Association for Migrants’, which released a press statement on Orbán’s speech. We publish the statement here in its entirety. MENEDÉK – Hungarian Association for Migrants Press Statement Budapest, 12 January 2015 Menedék – Hungarian Association for Migrants …

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Putting Wilders in perspective

By Pál Nyiri I watch with a certain envy how my colleagues take part in discussions of and protests against the PVV’s growing strength and its position on immigration. After a year in the Netherlands, I do not yet feel confident enough to participate in these debates myself, and there may be no need for it: anthropologists are perhaps represented with enough voices. For the time being, I feel more closely connected, and more responsible, for what is happening in Hungarian politics, my country of birth, although I am growing increasingly alienated from it because I feel that the space in …

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Hungarian nationalists claim Eastern origins

‘Hungarian Party campaigns for recognition of Scythian heritage’, Pál Nyiri recently wrote on the Culture Matters blog. Here we reproduce his post, which raises many interesting points about the politics of ethnic identity and the relationship between nationalism and academic writing.   According to Hungarian newspapers, the xenophobic, anti-Semitic party Jobbik (“The Righter”), which has three seats in the European Parliament, has launched a campaign to expunge from textbooks the accepted theory according to which Hungarians are a Finno-Ugric people, and replace it with one according to which they are related to the Huns, Avars and Scythians, Indo-Iranian nomads that inhabited large parts of …

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