Nationalist Politics and Everyday Ethnicity in a Transylvanian Town

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9780691128344: Nationalist Politics and Everyday Ethnicity in a Transylvanian Town


Situated on the geographic margins of two nations, yet imagined as central to each, Transylvania has long been a site of nationalist struggles. Since the fall of communism, these struggles have been particularly intense in Cluj, Transylvania's cultural and political center. Yet heated nationalist rhetoric has evoked only muted popular response. The citizens of Cluj--the Romanian-speaking majority and the Hungarian-speaking minority--have been largely indifferent to the nationalist claims made in their names.


Based on seven years of field research, this book examines not only the sharply polarized fields of nationalist politics--in Cluj, Transylvania, and the wider region--but also the more fluid terrain on which ethnicity and nationhood are experienced, enacted, and understood in everyday life. In doing so the book addresses fundamental questions about ethnicity: where it is, when it matters, and how it works. Bridging conventional divisions of academic labor, Rogers Brubaker and his collaborators employ perspectives seldom found together: historical and ethnographic, institutional and interactional, political and experiential. Further developing the argument of Brubaker's groundbreaking Ethnicity without Groups, the book demonstrates that it is ultimately in and through everyday experience--as much as in political contestation or cultural articulation--that ethnicity and nationhood are produced and reproduced as basic categories of social and political life.


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"A remarkable work of scholarship and of fieldwork, Nationalist Politics and Everyday Ethnicity in a Transylvanian Town should be read by every social scientist interested in nationalism, or ethnicity, or community life, or Eastern Europe. It does a terrific job of showing how large-scale social changes and projects of identity play out in a local context. Along the way it raises important questions for both social theory and public affairs. It should shape discussion for years to come."--Craig Calhoun, Social Science Research Council


"For over a decade, Rogers Brubaker has been calling into question the entire edifice underpinning the study of ethnicity by challenging the idea that ethnicity is about real groups founded on 'Ethnic identities.' This superb book on Hungarians and Romanians in a Transylvanian town amply demonstrates the fruitfulness of his conception. Not only will this be the definitive statement on contemporary ethno-national relations in this very complex region in Europe: it will become a classic for the analysis of such relations in many other parts of the world."--Katherine Verdery, Graduate Center, City University of New York


"Here in this uncommonly sensitive study, Rogers Brubaker employs perspectives and analytical idioms rarely coupled in the study of ethnicity and nationhood as applied to a distinct geographical area. We are taken to Cluj, a city in western Romania scarcely known to the West but one whose profile fairly shimmers on the page with tensions accruing from a combined and culturally rich Hungarian-Romanian past. The author probes the symbolic and ritualistic aspects of daily life in the surrounding area, leading to groundbreaking views on ethnicity."--István Deák, Columbia University


"This wonderful book will be welcomed by students and scholars of ethnicity, because there are so few, if any, other studies that look closely at how decisions about one's ethnicity and nationality are actually made. The first half provides an excellent review of Cluj's and Transylvania's history, and the detailed examination of life in Cluj that makes up the second half represents a unique contribution to our understanding of how ethnicity really functions in a contested space."--Daniel Chirot, University of Washington, author of Modern Tyrants


"A fine book that will be widely read and influential. Not only does it serve as an empirical companion piece to the more theoretical essays in Rogers Brubaker's Ethnicity without Groups, it also breaks new methodological ground while presenting a clear and subtle analysis of complex, little researched, but important social patterns associated with that trademark of modern times, the 'nation' or ethnic group."--Jeremy King, Mount Holyoke College, author of Budweisers into Czechs and Germans


About the Author:

Rogers Brubaker is professor of Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Margit Feischmidt is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Pecs, Hungary and a senior researcher at the Institute for the Study of Ethnic and National Minorities in Budapest. Jon Fox is lecturer in sociology at the University of Bristol. Liana Grancea is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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