Representations of Hungarian minority identity in Romania from the Treaty of Trianon to the fall of Ceausescu
The thesis examines the role of the concept of identity under nationalism as a principle of classification, simultaneously subordinating all of social reality to its premise, functioning as a boundary-marker and lending the prevailing social order authority by giving it the appearance of being founded on a correspondence with an immutable, external, natural phenomenon. The actual working of the principle of classification is rendered invisible by this analogy drawn from nature, investing it with a self-evident quality, which embeds it in the habitus (the thought categories and assumptions held in common by the collectivity, which bind it together), in the realm of doxa (unquestioned, shared beliefs). The contextuality of identity can be demonstrated by considering four different aspects, material, functional, affective and circumstantial. Material identity is distinguished by its high degree of stability, deriving from its permanence. It is the least problematic to the individual mind and as such situated within the doxa. Nationalism invokes identity as its principle of classification based on a simple dichotomy (those who belong to the nation and therefore act as repositories of the national essence and those who do not), convincing the members of the collectivity that they are materially different from outsiders. Where nationalism provides the unifying concept the state appropriates its principle of classification. However, the nationalist ideal of complete structural homology between the administrative reach of the state and the territory inhabited by those deemed to belong to the nation is often unattainable, hence the problematic nature of minority identity. It is against this backdrop that representations of Hungarian minority identity are analysed. The content of the representations (which straddle the political and cultural fields) is intimately linked to the dominant principle of classification, which shifted to that favoured by communism in the course of the period considered. Ceauescu's revival of national sentiment as a cohesive force ensured that the presence of the Hungarians in Romania remained problematic, reinforcing attitudes, which still persist today.