Volume 6 Issue 4 CONTENTS

Social Demand and the Social Purpose of History: What is Missing from Alun Munslow’s Classification of Historiography?

László Vörös

Insitute of History, Slovak Academy of Sciences

Alun Munslow proposed a threefold classification of historians’ approaches to the writing of history. According to Munslow, every historian is either a reconstructionist, constructionist, or deconstructionist, depending on his/her fundamental epistemological/ontological beliefs concerning the possibilities of studying and representing the “past” in the form of narrative. I suggest that the category of constructionism as defined by Munslow is based on a priori presumptions about historians’ alleged beliefs in the ontic nature of the “before now” and its knowability. The actual practice of scholarly history writing allows for a more nuanced typology. I argue for a looser association of formal and methodological criteria with the basic ontological/epistemological positions of historians. I also argue that Munslow’s category of constructionism should be split into two ideal-typical categories: constructionism-proper and constructionism-improper. His deep insight into the formal aspects of history representation notwithstanding, Munslow’s theory fails to explain why there are such diverse and completely contradictory epistemologies within a single discipline. Neither does it explain the seemingly paradoxical continued domination of (in Munslow’s view) two fallacious epistemologies: the reconstructionist and the constructionist. Why has reconstructionism, the most obsolete of the three epistemological positions, not vanished after many decades of intense criticism? I suggest that we should look for answers in the extra-disciplinary domain of the social functions of history. I argue that the social purpose of the knowledge produced by historians and the interaction between historians and the public have a decisive formative influence on both the theory and the practice of the discipline. Historians who fit into the epistemological categories of reconstructionism and constructionism-improper are able to provide accounts that legitimize social institutions, political regimes, economical systems, social orders, etc. Even more importantly, the histories constructed by this kind of historian often serve to anchor narratives (of self-identification) connected to referential social groups and categories. I suggest that reconstructionist and constructionist-improper historians can serve these societal functions because their accounts are based on realist-empiricist epistemologies congruent with naïve perceptions of the “past.” Furthermore, the constructionist-proper and deconstructionist historians not only do not offer legitimizing or identification narratives, their narratives of history are based on counterintuitive epistemology informed by constructivist social scientific theory. Their analyses often deconstruct the very notions upon which legitimizing and anchoring discourses are based. I suggest that the social functions of historical knowledge are thus an aspect that must be incorporated into epistemological studies of history and historiography.

Keywords: Social functions of history, Alun Munslow, epistemology, reconstructionism, constructionism, deconstructionism, self-identification, anchoring

Volume 6 Issue 4 CONTENTSVolume 6 Issue 4 CONTENTS

A Gaze Focused on Itself: On the Perception of Time in the Writing of the History of the Present

Zsombor Bódy

Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Institute of Sociology

“Since the past has ceased to throw its light upon the future, the mind of man wanders in obscurity.”

Alexis de Tocqueville: On Democracy in America

Following in the wake of Reinhart Koselleck’s analyses of historical time, the study examines the contemporary history’s perception of time. Comparing it with the perception of time in earlier classical periods of historiography and looking at problems of historical memory, the analysis comes to the conclusion that, in the recent development of historiography and particularly in the writing of the history of the present, a new presentist perception of time has become dominant which differs radically from the structure of the perception of time based on a horizon determined by experience and expectation, on which history as an academic discipline was established. Therefore, the writing of the history of the present is no longer a continuation of the roughly 200-year-old story of history as an academic discipline, but a new practice, whose internal characteristics and position among other disciplines which study the society of the present from different perspectives (such as sociology, political science, etc.) cannot yet be regarded as fully clarified.

Keywords: history of the present, contemporary history, perception of historical time, memory, Koselleck

Volume 6 Issue 4 CONTENTS

Present Times Concerning Things Past: On Recent Conceptions of Memory

Zoltán Hidas

Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Institute of Sociology

„Wer nicht von dreitausend Jahren
Sich weiß Rechenschaft zu geben,
Bleib im Dunkeln unerfahren,
Mag von Tag zu Tage leben.”

J. W. v. Goethe

After sketching modern experiences and visions of historicity, the present study outlines two fundamental modes of our relationship to present time and memory. In an ideal typical way, two theoretical conceptions are contrasted for this purpose. A radical system theory of time presumes that there has been a rupture in the human temperament, which has opened our understanding of time functionally by focusing in an accelerating manner on the future. The cultural memory paradigm asserts the existence of the individual as a genuine part of remembering communities, who draws orientations from the past. In the terms of the Hegelian philosophy of history, we have here the pragmatic representation of the past for the sake of efficiency on the one hand and the search for an internal order of the most heterogeneous events for the sake of discovering continuity in human activity on the other.

Keywords: philosophy of history, system theory, cultural memory, relation to the past, presentism

Volume 7 Issue 1 CONTENTS

Ethnonyms and Early Medieval Ethnicity: Methodological Reflections

Walter Pohl

Director, Institute for Medieval Studies, The Austrian Academy of Sciences


The paper deals with the significance of ethnonyms for the study of early medieval ethnicity. The historiographic sources are full of names of peoples, and endow them with collective agency. That may not prove that all of these peoples had strong ethnic identities. But it attests to the general use of ethnicity as a cognitive device to differentiate between large social groupings who were relevant actors on the political scene. In this scheme, ethnonyms are fundamental. ‘Ethnicity’ as a system of distinctions between collective social actors and ‘ethnic identity’ as the result of a series of identifications are of course closely linked, but they represent different aspects of ‘the ethnic’. Therefore, ethnonyms do not necessarily reflect ethnic self-identification of the group concerned, although they often do. What they attest to is some shared belief that humans can be distinguished by ethnonyms, that is, on the basis of ‘natural’ affiliations that people are born with.       

Keywords: ethnonyms, early medieval ethnicity, Longobards, Goths, gentes

Volume 7 Issue 1 CONTENTS

Ethnic Levels and Ethnonyms in Shifting Context: Ethnic Terminology in Hunza (Pakistan)

László Koppány Csáji

University of Pécs (Hungary), Department of Ethnography and Cultural Anthropology

This paper constitutes an attempt to unravel the complexity of ethnic levels and ethnonyms, and to outline the roles of “origin,” “language,” “locality,” and “social solidarity” in the ethnic identities of the Hunza, using the methods of anthropological studies on ethnicity, discourse analysis and cognitive semantics. The former kingdom of Hunza (now in the Pakistani controlled Kashmir). It is not obvious what one can call the ethnic level in Hunza. Ethnonyms do not have set definitions. There are overlapping categories of ethnic and quasi-ethnic perspectives. The notion that an ethnic group is based on a strict unit of origin, language, and territory seems to be false. Ethnic levels appear in constantly changing registers of personal knowledge, which only partially overlap. However, the discourse in which the inhabitants of Hunza express and experience their ethnic perceptions is an existing communicational frame, even if it contains relatively fluid and constantly changing elements of narratives, experiences, emotions, and values. The notion of Hunzakuts is seemingly a politonym, but it is also a local unit. The Burusho, Dom, Xik, Shina etc. are seemingly language based endonyms, but kinship, cultural relations, historical coexistence, administrative frames, language, and religiosity can all influence these ethnic perspectives. I delineated the essence of my explanation in a table, showing the complexity of ethnonyms used in social interactions. A native speaker has all these concepts in his or her mind, and in any particular situation, the relevant meanings are called forth. Ethnic identity is a set of different attachments, as frames of a person’s ethnic perceptions and behavior. Ethnicity is a kind of knowledge: participating in a discourse, sharing more or less common narratives, emotions, experiences, and values. Ethnicity is also a recognition: placing someone in the social environment, and it is also the foundation for meaningful and relevant relations. Finally, ethnicity is a practical tool of communication: ethnic perceptions and categories appear in conversation nearly always for a particular purpose.

Keywords: Hunza, Burushaski, Shina, Bericho, Wakhi, Pakistan, ethnicity, ethnonym, discourse analysis, cognitive semantics, nationalism

Volume 7 Issue 1 CONTENTS

The Formation of Modern Turkic ‘Ethnic’ Groups in Central and Inner Asia

Dávid Somfai Kara

Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Centre for the Humanities, Institute of Ethnology

International Asian studies, including Asian studies in Hungary, have examined several livestock breeding and horse-riding nomadic groups which provide additional data for hypotheses concerning the social structure of the pre-Conquest Hungarians. Some important questions related to the early history of Hungarians cannot be examined due to the lack of written historical data. But we do have written data related to Central and Inner Asia (the so-called Steppe Region) from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and sometimes from much earlier periods.1 One of these problems is the relationship between etic and emic terms for various “peoples.” Another is the appearance of ethnonyms on different levels (ethnic, sub-ethnic, clan, and sub-clan)2 among various ethnic groups. One might well wonder whether it is really appropriate to use ethnonyms as designations for these ethnic groups. After all, several modern ethnic groups were formed only in recent times, and the ethnonyms which are used to refer to them (today autonyms) are the result of political (not ethnic) processes, and they are sometimes the decision of a small group. Similar processes can be observed in Europe in early medieval times.3 Ethnic names have also undergone rapid changes, and it is interesting to observe attempts to create a national history for these modern ethnic groups, and the obvious shortcomings of these attempts.

Keywords: ethnos, conic caln system, Turkic, Inner Asia, Central Asia, Mongolic

Volume 7 Issue 1 CONTENTS

Magyar – A Name for Persons, Places, Communities

György Szabados

Consulting Historian, King Saint Stephen Museum, Székesfehérvár/Director of László Gyula Institute

With a name, we identify a community. But if we consider how people assigned and used names in the early Middle Ages, we are confronted with limits and problems. On the one hand, communities were organized in several ways, and the different kinds of identities (e.g. person, state, clan, ethnic group) can be confusing and thus can be confused. On the other hand, the history of a name and the object it denotes can lead in different directions: a name could identify more peoples or groups, and conversely, a single ethnic group could have many denominations. “Magyar” is now the vernacular name of the Hungarians who first emerged as a distinct group in the ninth century, but this noun appeared much earlier and not in a group-identifying function. Around the year 530, a Kutrigur-Hunnic king lived who was mentioned as “Muageris” by Byzantine authors. Some scholars have observed the similarity between the name “Muageris” and the ethnonym “Magyar.” Another Byzantine work (De Administrando Imperio ca. 950) enumerates the “clan of Meger” among the “Turk” [Hungarian] clans, and centuries later the Hungarian gestas and chronicles mention “Hetumoger,” “het Mogor” as “seven Hungarians.” If one compares the Byzantine sources with internal sources, it is possible that King “Muageris” can be inserted into the frame of the written data. The noun “Magyar” had four coherent functions. It was used as 1) a personal name, “Muageris” and “Magor,” the latter of whom was one of the forefathers of the Hungarians according to their original ethnic myth; 2) a toponym for the ancient homeland, i.e. the Hungarian chronicles use “Magor” for “Scythia” or “Magoria” to refer to part of “Scythia”; 3) the name of one of the leading clans, the clan of “Meger”; and 4) an ethnic name, i.e. “Hetumoger” or “het Mogor” as ‘seven Hungarians’.

Keywords: Hungarian ethnonym, functions of the name “Magyar”, king Muageris, medieval historiography



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