Tudomány a nemzetépítés szolgálatában
Ferenc Hörcher: “Soft Power” in the Nineteenth-Century Hungarian Reform Era? The Cultural and Science Policy Aims of the Széchenyis
This paper aims at a reinterpretation of the early nineteenth-century efforts of the Hungarian counts Ferenc Széchényi and István Széchenyi, father and son, who both took a progressive part in cultural institution-building on a national level. While their efforts are usually understood as part of a larger project labelled as nation-building in Hungarian historiography, this essay connects them to an earlier ideal of the Enlightenment: aristocrats were deemed to be useful in raising the cultural standards of their community by sponsoring cultural activities and establishing cultural institutions. Due to their cosmopolitan perspective with a dominant Anglophile orientation, the counts were both inspired by European examples. Through their travels they got acquainted with the best practices in Europe, and became motivated to excel in the cultural sphere as well. Although this activity cannot be separated from the political turn during the autocratic reign of King Francis of Austria (1792–1835) which barred direct political opposition to Habsburg policies in the empire, the counts’ efforts were dedicated to the cultural renaissance of their country instead of the independence-oriented nationalist agenda articulated by the opposition circle of Lajos Kossuth in the 1840s. The paper reconstructs the founders’ intentions for the National Library and the National Museum (1802), twin institutions founded by the father Ferenc Széchényi; and the Hungarian Academy of Science, initiated by the son István Széchenyi in 1825. The two projects should be viewed as a continued effort of father and son, who both intended to use culture to support the civilising process of the country. Although arguably they together represent the first phase of what came to be called the Hungarian Reform Era, this institution-building programme was an expression of the counts’ self-conscious affirmation of classical antique-Christian virtues, the demonstration of their high-flying Enlightened ideals, and evidence for their realistic political sense. Especially through the latter, their cultural sponsoring activity was an attempt to negotiate court and country interests before the major clash between the autocratic ruler and the nationalist opposition from the 1840s onward led to the 1848 Revolution and War of Independence.
Lilla Szalisznyó: Hungarian Literature Rears its Head in a Manly Fashion: The Role of the Hungarian Scholarly Society’s Awards in the Appreciation of Literature (1831–1847)
The 1831 regulations of the Hungarian Scholarly Society (A’ Magyar Tudós Társaság alaprajza és rendszabásai) summarises the remit of the institution in twelve points. With regard to its support of Hungarian literature, the document states that it will take part in the following activities: support national theatre by providing criticism, support national literature by launching prize competitions, finance the publication of the best manuscripts received, award money to previously published literary works selected by an award committee, and support the Hungarian translation of eminent foreign-language literary works ‘new and old alike’. The present study examines the literary competitions organised in the first decade of the society’s existence: the Drama Prize and the Grand Prize. The premise of the study is that the society was founded amidst the overhaul of literary life in Hungary, the process of modern disciplinarisation. By the foundation of professional institutions, literature was expected to both slot into a new system of disciplines and find a way to make its role appreciated by society at large. At the same time, besides consistently supporting the legitimisation of literature by inviting original work in competitions and awarding money prizes to new and already published Hungarian literary works, the Academy also legitimised the artistic programme of originality and encouraged the transformation and diversity of Hungarian literature’s disciplinary structure. It seems that the Academy’s communication in the annuals, which published the prize winners every two-three years, was purposefully conceived to give the impression of a dynamically evolving art form, appreciative of and responsive to both professional and national expectations. Contemporary readers were involved in the internal processes of literature in the making: the announcements included more than just the fact of awarding the prizes and the titles of winning works. They also published lists of other critically acclaimed literary works, as well as that the Academy appreciated the important role of both the financial and symbolic value of the prizes in their public evaluation. By examining the practice of weighing the applications as apparent in these reports, the study assesses the symbolic and financial value of the prizes awarded to understand the Academy’s role in the structural transformation of Hungarian literary culture and the ways they communicated this role in the Academy’s official bulletin.
Béla Mester: Shaping the Narrative of the History of Hungarian Philosophy in the Context of History of World Philosophy and Cultural Nation-Building: Pál Almási Balogh’s Enterprise
One of the primary aims of the Hungarian Scholarly Society, a ‘counter-institution’ striving to foster a new type of public life in Hungarian intellectual circles, was to establish the Hungarian academic language for disciplines and catalogue the achievements of various scholarly fields accumulated until their time. Philosophy enjoyed a premium position among these efforts and can boast significant accomplishments rather early on. Following the first dedicated academic dictionary of mathematics, the Academy’s Philosophiai Műszótár (Academic Dictionary of Philosophy) was published in 1834 and the first serious historical overview of Hungarian philosophy by Pál Almási Balogh, also initiated and supported by the Academy, came out in the following year. Besides the compilation of literature Almási Balogh’s task was an inquiry into two fundamental problems. On one hand, he had to place the sources of Hungarian philosophy into the grand narrative of world history of philosophy, on the other hand he also had to insert the same material into the system of the then budding Hungarian national culture, and find its function and position therein. Writing the history of philosophy as an independent discipline was still a relatively novel concept at the time. Although university curricula included courses on the history of philosophy, the most widely used handbooks were still those by the first professional generation, primarily Jakob Brucker, on whose work Almási Balogh himself relies heavily too. Almási Balogh’s relationship with József Rozgonyi, the anti-Kantian protagonist of the Hungarian Kant debate (1792–1822), is also an important question, mainly because Rozgonyi’s British (specifically, Scottish) concept of philosophy was not at all prevalent in Hungary at the time. Rozgonyi’s university course, which testifies his uncommon orientation, has come down to posterity in the notes of the ex-Sárospatak student Almási Balogh, which provide an interesting early version to compare with the later printed edition. One of the main aims of the present study is to demonstrate the way in which Almási Balogh reconciles the Hungarian materials with the concepts of history of world philosophy found in both the aforementioned popular handbook used at the time and the work of his former professor at Sárospatak. The author’s less explicit task is to position the history of Hungarian philosophy in the evolving system of Hungarian national culture. For this purpose, Almási Balogh had to align philosophers and philosophical texts with the prominent eras and milestones of Hungarian history and turn the Hungarian philosophical heritage into a self-contained history in a national framework, parallel with similar component narratives (e.g. literary history, art history, legal history), in such a way that it would not lose its connection with the most significant trends of the history of European philosophy. The second aim of the present study is to explore this complex task in depth. Almási Balogh’s skill at negotiating both tasks successfully is evident in using one of the most characteristic tools of the historiographer’s trade: when he quotes Greek sources about Scythian thinkers or interprets the Cynics as Cumans (kunok), he operates with the topos of ‘barbarian philosophy’, originally retained by Bruckner for religious reasons, in order to trace the roots of Hungarian philosophy back to the dawn of world philosophy. It is interesting to note here that although the readers commissioned by the Academy asked him to modify certain parts of his manuscript, which he happily obliged prior to printing, it seems that no one objected against anything in the chapters on the proto-history of Hungarian philosophy. The third aim of the present study is to present a hypothesis regarding the function of this seemingly unanimously accepted concept of philosophical proto-history in the programme of creating a narrative of the history of philosophy on a national level.
Veronika Eszik: The Hungarian-Croatian Coast as a Nationalized Landscape: Remarks on the Relationship between Institutionalising Geography and Nation-Building
The study examines the role of Hungarian-Croatian coast as a landscape construct (an image of a landscape created by social, political and cultural processes) in the collective imagination of the nation, as well as the role of institutionalising geographical scholarship in the construction of this image. The literature on (re)creating landscapes along nationalistic agendas is abundant. With regard to territorial representations of the Hungarian nation state, the present study relies mainly on the work of Réka Albert and Levente T. Szabó, who studied the symbolic role of landscapes in national self-representation in connection with the Great Plain and Transylvania. As Róbert Keményfi points out, Hungarian geographical scholarship has constructed a centrifugal view, whereby the territory of the state is identical with the Carpathian Basin, observed from the angle of the state-forming nation’s central dwelling area. Besides the obvious political reasons, this can also be explained by the fact that basic geographical research on the ethnic peripheries of Hungary was yet to commence. This, however, is not entirely true for Croatia: due to Hungarian imperialistic power struggles official scholarship of the Balkans did in fact start in this period, partly based in Fiume (now Rijeka in Croatia). As a result of these early efforts, the contemporary scholarly output in the geographical sciences provides rich source material for modern scholarship. The present study relies on two types of sources: contemporary press, including articles published in the Fiume-based weekly Magyar Tengerpart (Hungarian Coast), as well as the popular science publications of the Hungarian Geographical Society (founded in 1872) and articles published in its journal Földrajzi Közlemények (Studies in Geography). After Edward W. Said’s paradigmatic work it has become a commonplace that the scholarly research and knowledge of any given space is one of the primary tools of power over that territory: a kind of ‘geographical violation’ which provides those in power with practical information and takes part in the ideological legitimation of exercising their power at the same time. Although Said’s observation primarily concerns spaces demarcated, named, and through these gestures, governed specifically by colonial powers, the present study of creating loci of power employs his methodology of spatial analysis, also found in other contributions in the field of (post)colonial studies. Geographical knowledge shaping both political practice and national imagination was one of the most important instruments in constructing the nationalized space of Hungary and the complex spatial structure, civil code and ethnic composition of the Adriatic region provides an apt terrain to explore the birth of this construct.
Katalin Stráner: Natural Science in Hungarian or Hungarian Natural Science? László Dapsy, Hungarian Darwinism, and the Origins of the Publishing Company of the Hungarian Society of Natural Science
On 1 June 1873 László Dapsy, teacher of natural history in the Calvinist secondary school in Pest and an active member of the Hungarian Society of Natural History, wrote in a letter to Charles Darwin that his Hungarian translation of the Origin of Species would be published in August of the same year. In the letter he also reported that the Society did not only approve the Hungarian translation of Darwin’s work, but they also accepted Dapsy’s 1871 proposal to found a publishing company that would publish in Hungarian “foreign works of significance” in the natural sciences. The series continued successfully for decades, attracting not only the attention of a wide readership, but also financial profit. The aim of Dapsy’s publishing initiative and his wider agenda of science popularisation was to make Hungarian natural science and scientific culture flourish through the translation of existing, fundamental and renowned foreign (Western) literature instead of trying to produce original, national works of science. His translator’s introduction to the 1873 Hungarian edition The Origin of Species is an important document wherein he details his agenda and strategy for the development of Hungarian science; however, his opinion proved to be too controversial and found criticism with those members of the scientific community and the public who resented the implication that original Hungarian scientific output was not on par with that of the more “developed” nations. As a result of the ensuing debate, the Society publicly distanced itself from Dapsy, and the book series eventually came to include books by Hungarian scientists besides the works of renowned foreign scholars. The aim of this study is to analyse various strategies of the circulation and popularisation of scientific knowledge in nineteenth-century Hungary. Dapsy’s agenda of translation and reception and the criticism expressed by his contemporaries are treated in the context of the program of the Society of Natural Science to disseminate and popularise the natural sciences to a wide general audience in the public space. Dapsy’s role was more complex than a mere translator of Darwin’s text: not unlike other members of the scientific community, he was an active agent of cultural transfer, whose position in creating a new scientific discourse influenced not only the science popularisation strategies of the Society of Natural Science, but also the ways in which scientific ideas entered “popular” culture and the public sphere of late-nineteenth-century Hungary.
Emese Lafferton: The “Magyar Face Debate”. Racial Thinking in fin-de-siècle Hungarian Ethnography and Anthropology
This paper recovers the “Magyar face debate” raging among ethnographers, anthropologists and public figures in the long decade between 1890 and 1903, a period which began with the preparation for the 1896 Millennium Exhibition and ended in the aftermath of the 1900 Paris World Exhibition (accompanied by various international scientific congresses). These events were of great national importance and provided scientists and politicians with unique possibilities to contribute to the nation’s self-definition and representation. The Magyar face debate also constituted an important episode in a long series of cross-disciplinary attempts to define race and ethnicity and to reflect on multiethnic nationhood. By discussing relevant aspects of the histories of ethnography and anthropology in the Dualist era, the paper studies the potential political role of these disciplines in nation building and explores what kind of racial thinking they gave rise to. Affected by the specific socio-political conditions of the ethnically most diverse country of contemporary Europe, the disciplinary trajectories of Hungarian ethnography and anthropology seem to have diverged from the models offered by the historiography in the British, French, and German contexts. The paper argues that the pluralistic, predominantly cultural and strongly integrative ethnographic tradition that prevailed in Hungary in the last decades of the nineteenth century did not notable wane and shift towards a biological, hierarchical and racialist thinking before the First World War.
Bálint Varga: National and Regional Pasts in a Colourful Region: Historical Scholarship in the Banat in the Long Nineteenth Century
This study investigates historical scholarship produced in and about Banat, a heterogeneous region divided today by Romania and Serbia but belonging to the Kingdom of Hungary during the long nineteenth century. The first comprehensive history of the region was authored by the Venice-born Franz Griselini, whose narrative mirrored the Enlightenment and the modernization program of the Austrian government. Local narratives, framed in a Hungarus identity, emerged in the early 1860s by local, German-speaking authors. Yet, romantic and national historical scholarships produced the most influential visions of the past of the region. From the mid-nineteenth century on, Romanian scholars, based mostly in Bucharest, produced a powerful narrative, in which the Banat appeared as a genuinely Romanian territory. With a slight delay, Magyar historians affiliated with institutions in Budapest elaborated a Magyar master narrative, putting emphasis on the Hungarian chapters of the history of the Banat. A Serbian and a German national reading appeared, too, but these were less elaborate than the Romanian and Magyar ones. From the 1870s on, historians based in the Banat (many amateurs and a few professionals among them) authored several works discussing the history of their region. These local works were heavily influenced by the national master narratives and can be seen as the offspring of the pasts produced on the national level.
Gábor György Papp: “Let us Take our National Traditions to the Modern World as Soon as Possible”: Changes in the Concept of National Architecture in Hungarian Architectural Literature
The study aims to demonstrate the changes in the role and place of, as well as the ensuing discourse about national architecture in the period between the 1870s and the 1910s. Architecture occupies a special place in the discourse about national character. On one hand, due to its technical background and constructive approach, it was in the focus of attention from the field of engineering. On the other hand, its aesthetical aspects, as well as the fact that architectural works are often projects of co-operation between diverse art forms, also made it relevant for practitioners of the fine arts’ various branches. At the beginning of this period, the establishment of national art and architecture was closely connected to concepts of national identity and sovereignty. The prevailing discourses of the time gave rise to the long-standing idea that no specific architectural style can be associated with Hungarian history and consequently national architecture must be constructed creatively out of various disparate sources. In the latter quarter of the century, architects considered the question of national architecture as relevant and topical and worked on the complex description of the concept of nation in architecture as a whole. Self-imaging and self-reflection played an important role in the creation of national character. Later, when identity building was no longer a national mission, the choice of historical styles was determined by the specifics of architectural projects and functions rather than their purpose to represent symbolic meaning. The fin-desiècle practice of borrowing features of surviving architectural monuments led to invention deficit in some cases. This strict adherence to historic models suggests a certain level of uncertainty, which is also visible in the efforts (not unlike similar attempts elsewhere in Europe) to find new models outside the context of the history of European architecture.
Gábor Sonkoly: How Viennese Is the Vienna Memorandum? Historical Interpretation of the Changing Definitions of Urban Heritage
The study aims to make the contemporary developments and research results of cultural heritage, specifically urban heritage, relevant and applicable for historical analysis, through the detailed examination of the controversy surrounding the UNESCO World Heritage status of Vienna’s Old Town and the 2005 Vienna Conference. Both these events were milestones in the history of international legislation regulating urban heritage protection. Analysing this controversy is informative not only regarding the local and international stakeholders’ views, but also because it contributed to the evolution of a new concept, that of the historical urban landscape, which in turn has become an integral part of the conceptual history of cultural heritage. The analysis concerns two major parallel themes. On one hand, it examines the contemporary self-representation of Vienna; on the other, it provides a historical overview of the 2001–2003 controversy and its resolutions. The study demonstrates the synergy of various levels of Vienna’s urban identity (local, regional, international) as well as the social practice and professional conflicts of interest behind the use of the historical urban landscape concept as the universal framework of urban heritage management.