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A Contemporary History of Exclusion

The Roma Issue in Hungary from 1945 to 2015

Balázs Majtényi, György Majtényi

Balázs Majtényi is associate professor at Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest), Faculty of Social Studies, head of the Department for European Studies; senior research fellow at the Institute for Legal Studies at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Centre for Social Sciences. He is an editor of Fundamentum (Hungarian Rights Quarterly).

György Majtényi is professor of social and cultural history at Eszterházy Károly College, Eger, Hungary

This study presents the changing situation of the Roma in the second half of the twentieth century. The authors examine the effects of the policies of the Hungarian state towards minorities by analyzing legal regulations, policy documents, archival sources and sociological surveys. The book offers theoretical background to one of the most burning issues in east Europe.

In the first phase (1945-61), the authors show the efforts of forced assimilation by the communist state. The second phase (1961-89) began with the party resolution denying nationality status to the Roma. The prevailing thought was that Gypsy culture was a culture of poverty that must be eliminated. Forced assimilation through labor activities continued. In the 1970s Roma intellectuals began an emancipatory movement, and its legacy can still be felt. The third phase (1989-2010) brought about some freedoms and rights for the Roma, with large sums spent on various Roma-related programs. Despite these efforts, the situation on the ground did not improve. Segregation and marginalization continues, and is rampant.

Published in 2016 by arrangement with the Eötvös Loránd University, Eszterházy Károly University of Applied Sciences and the Center for Social Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

250 pages, 80 photographs
978-963-386-122-6 cloth
$60.00 / €52.00 / £40.00

"Contemporary History of Exclusion delivers a rich historical account on the position of the Gypsy/Roma
minority in Hungary after the Second World War. The strength and uniqueness of this book stems from its ambition to reiterate Hungarian national history from the perspective of disenfranchised and persecuted communities. Following in the footsteps of Michel Foucault, the authors strive to construct a “counter-history” of Hungary, alert to persistent power asymmetries, coercive measures, and pernicious exploitation of the antagonized Roma minority. The authors’ critical and reflexive reading of sources derived entirely from state institutions reveals implicit biases and deconstructs nationalistic narratives. By shaking dominant discourse from its position, the authors expose how the Hungarian state, irrespective of the regime in place, has labeled Gypsy/Roma as a deviant group and pushed entire communities to the periphery.
The erudition and depth of understanding of this book make it worth reading. Written with flair, Majtényi and Majtényi’s counter-history is full of fresh insights into past and current events" - H-Net Reviews in the Humanities & Social Sciences