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Antisemitism in an Era of Transition

Continuities and Impact in Post-Communist Poland and Hungary

Edited By François Guesnet and Gwen Jones

The post-Communist transition in Eastern Central Europe has brought about democratic reform, liberalized economies and accession to the European Union, but also the emergence of political movements that revert to antisemitic rhetoric and arguments. This volume compares the genealogies and impact of antisemitism in contemporary Poland and Hungary. Leading and emerging scholars contrast developments in both countries from the last quarter of the nineteenth century to the present, analysing the roles played by organised religion, political leaders, media and press, but also by Communist Parties. They present historical analysis as well as the results of qualitative and quantitative research on contemporary public memory, the image of the Jew, antisemitic media, political constituencies and the interplay of prejudices, specifically anti-Roma racism. A topical bibliography of research on antisemitism in post-Communist Eastern Central Europe offers pathways to further research.
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Divida et Impera: (Re)Creating the Hungarian National Gypsy: Claude Cahn

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Claude Cahn1

This essay aims to trace modes through which Roma—who comprise up to 10% of the population of Hungary—were removed from the civic, liberal project, and attached politically—at least for the time being—to the nationalist political idea. It examines the impact of one series of episodes taking place in the late 1990s and early 2000s: the so-called ‘Zámoly Roma’ case. In so doing it aims to trace a particular turn in Hungarian public life in which the Hungarian right took stock of the potential for a broad civic movement based on an open and inclusive definition of belonging in Hungary and, in a series of moves, fractured such a possibility by driving a wedge between, on the one hand, urban, liberal Budapest elites (many Jewish by origin) and, on the other, an increasingly nationally defined National Gypsy community. In the process, the former were reaffirmed as alien, and the latter forced into renewed affirmations of performative loyalty to an otherwise ethnically defined Hungarian nationalism. These moves have defined the current exclusionary nationalist space in Hungary, and drive the current, highly troubling series of developments in Hungary. Stigmatized as ‘Jewish’, the idea of a civic, open, tolerant, diverse, liberal Hungary is now, for the time being at least, dead.

Following Vermeersch, this essay departs from the habit of much of the literature – in particular political science literature – of failing to take seriously Romani politics.2 It argues that Roma have played an...

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