National Projects, Regional Identities, Everyday Compromises Szeklerland in Greater Romania (1919–1940)1
This article analyzes the social and cultural impact of the dissolution of the Habsburg Monarchy on the overwhelmingly Hungarian-inhabited Szekler region. Although the half-million strong Szekler community found itself in the geographical center of Greater Romania, most people considered the Versailles peace settlement temporary. This created a paradoxical situation, for as the Szekler minority began to develop separately from the culture of post-Trianon Hungary, Hungarian intellectuals and former civil servants living within the borders of post-1918 Romania started to promote a cult of a supposedly “pure” and untouched Szeklerness. The first part of the article places the question of Szekler identity-building in a general theoretical framework and briefly sketches the political, social and demographic background of the community. The second part will analyze specific strategies of identity building that were pursued from outside the Szeklerland (e.g. the Szekler renaissance under the Horthy regime in Hungary) and from above (e.g. the constructions of “Szeklerness” by the intelligentsias in both Hungary and the Szeklerland). Finally, I will assess the influence of early Transylvanism on the building of Szekler identities in the interwar period.