The book that you, Dear Reader, are now holding in your hand contains essays by Hungarian authors (living in the Carpathian Basin, both within and without Hungary), which have been published in the past one or two years in KISEBBSÉGKUTATÁS, a Hungarian magazine specialising in minorities research. This magazine was founded eight years ago by the author of these lines; this was roughly the time when it once again became possible to continue that tremendous scholarly work in the area of Hungarian studies and national minority research, which had been hallmarked between the two world war by such names as Pál Teleki, Jenő Cholnoky and András Rónai (geography), István Kniezsa and László Hadrovics (linguistics), László Búza and Ernő Flachbart (international law) and Elemér Mályus, Gyula Szekfü and László Makkai (history). Since the moment of its foundation, KISEBBSÉGKUTATÁS has been dedicated to the task of keeping the readers informed about the scientific results in the area, in which now there is a renaissance of interest. For us, Hungarians, these results are very important, since for the past eleven hundred years, ever since the foundation of our state, we, the nation politic, have lived in the Carpathian Basin side by side with other ethnic groups, while the peace treaty concluding the First World War drove one third of the Hungarian nation into the conditions of minority existence.
Our special interest in minority matters is, therefore, understandable; however, we envisage, and have always envisaged, research in this area only in compliance with the principle of “sine ira et studio”. On the point of the methodical approach, Pál Teleki’s expression used seventy years ago still applies: to produce results in minority research, “the collaboration of disciplines” is necessary. (There is nothing new under the Sun: in today’s fashionable frazeology we would call this a multidisciplinary approach.)
It is possible that the essays published in the present book will not reflect the full complexity of the theme; nevertheless, we hope to be able to show through these essays that in order to understand the minorities’ conditions, both existential and spiritual, the parallel application of several disciples is required.
In the chapter entitled The Condition of Minorities the geographer Károly Kocsis, author of the essay “Findings about the Demographic-Ethnic Geography of Hungarian National Minorities in the Carpathian Basin”, calls attention to the strange duality of the situation whereby Hungarians living outside the mother state have preserved their unitary national awareness and culture, while their numbers have declined not only in the mother country but also as regards the percentage of Hungarians relative to the total population of the Carpathian Basin. In the same chapter the socio-psychologist Sándor Hódi from Vajdaság makes interesting comparisons between the respective nationalities of three regions to discover which geographical unit they are most closely attached to: their place of residence, their region, their country or Europe.
In the chapter Minority Culture, the literary historian (and also President of the Writers Association) Béla Pomogáts analyses the unique role of Hungarian literature in minority culture. He claims that literature has assumed serious role in the restoration of the “broken historical vitality”, at the same time pointing out that its true import does not derive from national rhetoric; instead, the genuine values create the unitary institution of (majority and minority) Hungarian literature. From the exciting analysis of the cultural historian Csaba Kiss Gy. (“Central European Myths of Conquest”) it becomes apparent that the myths of the nations living in the region can be traced back to a common pool of motifs—sacred places, animals and other symbols—and in the wake of these symbolic meanings the image of a shared (European) cultural heritage seems to emerge. Folk religion is the subject of two essays: the ethnographer Sándor Horváth (Hungary) tries to locate the origin of the word “szent” (sacred) in the usage of the Croat nationalities of Western Hungary; and Vilmos Tánczos, professor at the Kolozsvár University, does the same by studying the prayers of the ‘Csángo’ Hungarians of Moldavia and Gyimes (Romania). The ethnography professor József Faragó, also from the Kolozsvár University, presents the history of the Hungarian university founded 125 years ago in Kolozsvár, shedding light on the enormous cultural influence of the university, which (alongside the Church) made the survival of Hungarian culture possible in Transylvania. Professor Bertalan Andrásfalvy (University of Pécs) discusses the ways in which Hungarian scholars often provide the material to promote a false image of Hungarians. Professor János Péntek (Transylvania) convincingly argues that the Hungarian language is undervalued, both concerning its usefulness (central position, suitability for mediation) and from the viewpoint of cultural and scientific value, among our neighbours.
In the chapter Minority Politics and Minorities Rights, specific mention should be made of an essay written by Erzsébet Szalayné Sándor, a researcher of international law: her paper reveals that the minority protection system established after the First World War could not be effective, as the great powers left the matter to be settled by the legal establishment and administration of new and vehement states inexperienced in state organisation.
The chapter Minorities History was compiled in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution and War of Independence of 1848/49. In their studies, both László Szarka and János Veliky (Hungary) analyse the minority politics of the first responsible Hungarian government. Professor Ákos Egyed (Kolozsvár) discusses the ways in which the revolution meant the (re)integration of Transylvania’s Hungarian population into the unitary nation. Hungarian historian Ernő Deák (Austria) presents previously unpublished documents about the unique sympathy and solidarity shown by the Viennese revolutionaries, and by the people of Vienna in general, for the Hungarian cause.
Dear Reader! We would like to point out once more that our publication does not, and cannot, do justice to the whole breadth of minority research conducted in Hungary. Hopefully, however, the essays published here will convince the Reader that the Hungarian researchers strive for objectivity, treating this broad subject without partiality, not only in the interest of scholarly progress, but also with a view to contributing to an intelligent dialogue between the various ethnic groups and nationalities of the region.
chief editor and managing director of the publisher