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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“No faggot, just nuts”

by Pál Nyíri Around ten years ago I took some Chinese friends to the former royal castle in Gödöllö, near Budapest. We came upon a photo studio where you could dress up in costume from Queen Sisi’s era. My friends’ daughter, then around ten, donned the garb of a noble young lady; I dressed up as her governess. The photo was a hit, and recently it got into the hands of my three-year-old son. He wanted one too. The castle’s website informed us that the studio was still there. Off we went with my wife and my son.

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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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500ste blog Standplaats Wereld!

Door Lenie Brouwer. Ongeveer vijf jaar geleden bespraken wij – enkele stafleden van de afdeling Antropologie – de kwaliteit van het publieke debat. Wij stoorden ons aan de negatieve toon van het islamdebat, hoe bijvoorbeeld de hoofddoek uitsluitend als een vorm van vrouwenonderdrukking werd gezien of hoe er alleen maar óver moslims werd gediscussieerd in plaats van met hen zelf. Een andere bron van frustratie betrof de discussie over ontwikkelingssamenwerking, hoe rechtse partijen dit debat monopoliseerden waardoor er weinig ruimte was voor nuancering . Wij misten een antropologische visie in deze maatschappelijke debatten en wilden onze kennis delen met een …

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Umbrellas… but revolutions?

By Pál Nyiri. Yesterday I organized a discussion at Spui 25 to make sense of the recent events in Hong Kong. The student demonstrations demanding the direct election of Hong Kong’s chief executive by universal suffrage in 2017 — a promise made by Chinese government for 2012, but postponed and now broken — have spread to high schools and office workers, resulting in the largest mass protest in China since the 1989 democracy movement that led to the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown. The panelists included Frank Pieke, an anthropologist and Professor of Modern Chinese Culture at Leiden University, and two …

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“China seeks tips on how to boost Christianity,” or Wang Zuoan meets Max Weber in Kenya

By Pal Nyiri Kenya’s Sunday Nation reports that a Chinese government delegation “led by State [Administration] for Religious Affairs minister Wang Zuoan is in Kenya to ‘copy good practices’ that could help it grow Christianity.” “Religion is good for development,” the minister reportedly said at Bishop’s Gardens in Nairobi, at a meeting with Kenya’s Anglican archbishop. He also said that “he was happy with the localisation of Anglican Church in Kenya after independence, so that all its bishops are locals.” Well. Where to begin?

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Chinese workers in Libya

By Pal Nyiri Acccording to a feature in Nandu Zhoukan, 36 thousand Chinese workers have been evacuated from Libya with an efficiency that, the paper claims, astounded the world. The largest operation belonged to China State Construction Engineering (CSCE, ??????????, which alone employed 10 thousand Chinese workers. The paper interviewed an engineer working at a smaller operation, China Transport Construction Group (????????), which employed a total of 5,000 workers in Libya. This engineer, from Henan Province, worked on the real estate project near Benghazi that comprised the construction of 5,000 houses. At the end of February, armed Libyan rebels assembled …

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Anthropology at the VU: socially engaged and passionate

Masters student, Gijs Verbossen, talks about the Master’s in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the VU, which focuses around the theme of Human Security. Check out the video… In the most recent quality assessment, the Master’s programme was judged to be the best anthropology programme in the Netherlands by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders. The programme is challenging, tightly organized, and enjoys a high success rate. For more information visit: www.vu.nl/sca See also our series in which Master’s students write on their fieldwork: Fieldwork 2010 and Fieldwork 2011.

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Multicultural Competencies: A New VU Publication

By Pál Nyíri I have received a nicely designed and expensively printed booklet in the mail. It contains a synopsis written by Nicolien Zuijdgeest. This is based on a much more extensive research report by Lucy Kortram and published by the VU’s Onderwijscentrum, entitled Multiculturele competenties. Since “diversity is our business” — to borrow a chapter title from Ulf Hannerz’s latest book – I think we in the departments of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Communication, Organisation and Management, and History should take time to read this report and comment on it. I hope this post will elicit responses from colleagues …

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