Volume 7 Issue 1 2018

Volume 7 Issue 1

Ethnonyms in Europe and Asia: Studies in History and Anthropology

Zsuzsanna Zsidai
Special Editor of the Thematic Issue

Contents

Articles

Walter Pohl
Ethnonyms and Early Medieval Ethnicity: Methodological Reflections    5

Abstract

Abstract

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.
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Odile Kommer, Salvatore Liccardo, Andrea Nowak
Comparative Approaches to Ethnonyms: The Case of the Persians    18

Abstract

Abstract

This article examines ethnonyms for Persians in Medieval Latin, Greek, and Arabic sources. These ethnonyms are part of ethnic terminologies which changed over time and varied in different regional contexts. The ethnonyms for Persians are approached in different textual genres from a combination of historiographical, philological, and social anthropological perspectives. In the first part, the investigation of Persians in Late Antique source material sets out from the Tabula Peutingeriana and examines the entries on the map which refer to the Persians, highlighting both their ethnic and political meanings. The second part deals with source material on medieval South Arabia. First, it focuses on the texts of the tenth-century Yemeni scholar al-Hamdānī and his use of a set of ethnonyms for the Persian minority population, of which each term evokes a different association. This is followed by an analysis of the early thirteenth-century account of Persian traveler Ibn al-Mujāwir, in which the roles and meanings of ethnonyms for Persians in different narrative units are discussed. This case study shows that there are interdependencies between ethnonyms and other means of identification, such as language, lifestyle, place of dwelling, kinship, descent, and the division of the world into different spatial and ideological realms. The case of the Persians illustrates how the authors under discussion used ethnonyms as part of narrative strategies which support processes of selfing and othering.
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Zsuzsanna Zsidai
Some Thoughts on the Translation and Interpretation of Terms Describing Turkic Peoples in Medieval Arabic Sources    57

Abstract

Abstract

The identification of the various peoples who lived on the medieval Eurasian Steppe has always been an engaging problem among scholars of the early history of this territory. The Arabs came into contact with Central Asian peoples from the beginning in the seventh century, during the course of the Islamic conquest. Hence, one finds many details about the peoples of the Steppe in the Arabic sources.
The Arabic geographer Ibn Rusta mentions the Hungarians among the Turkic peoples in the beginning of the tenth century. However, according to the Arabic sources, there were many Turkic tribes or peoples in different regions, such in Ferghana, Khorasan, Transoxania, Samarqand, and near Armenia. Based on this fact, the term “Turk” can be interpreted in different ways. My aim is to indicate some of the difficulties concerning the translation and interpretation of the terms referring to peoples or tribes, such as “jins” and “qawm,” and to give some examples of occurrences of the ethnonym “Turk” in medieval Arabic texts. I begin with a discussion of the relevant methodological questions and then argue that the designation “Turk” should be used more cautiously as a group-identifying term in the wider context of the early Medieval world of the Eurasian Steppe.
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György Szabados
Magyar – A Name for Persons, Places, Communities    82

Abstract

Abstract

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’.
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Dávid Somfai Kara
The Formation of Modern Turkic ‘Ethnic’ Groups in Central and Inner Asia     98

Abstract

Abstract

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. 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) 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. 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.
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László Koppány Csáji
Ethnic Levels and Ethnonyms in Shifting Context: Ethnic Terminology in Hunza (Pakistan)    111

Abstract

Abstract

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.
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FEATURED REVIEW
A szovjet tényező: Szovjet tanácsadók Magyarországon [The Soviet factor: Soviet advisors in Hungary]. By Magdolna Baráth. Reviewed by Andrea Pető    136
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BOOK REVIEWS
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“A Pearl of Powerful Learning:” The University of Cracow in the Fifteenth Century. By Paul W. Knoll. (Education and Society in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, 52.) Reviewed by Borbála Kelényi    142

Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum. Edited by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. (Cursor Mundi 28.) Reviewed by Dániel Bagi    145

Kaiser Karl IV. 1316–2016. Ausstellungskatalog Erste Bayerisch-Tschechische Landesausstellung. Edited by Jiří Fajt and Markus Hörsch. Reviewed by Balázs Nagy    148

The Art of Memory in Late Medieval Central Europe (Czech Lands, Hungary, Poland). By Lucie Doležalová, Farkas Gábor Kiss, and Rafał Wójcik. Reviewed by Emőke Rita Szilágyi    152

Workers and Nationalism: Czech and German Social Democracy in Habsburg Austria, 1890–1918. By Jakub S. Beneš. Reviewed by Peter Bugge    155

Die Habsburgermonarchie und die Slowenen im 1. Weltkrieg. By Walter Lukan. (Austriaca 11.) Reviewed by Rok Stergar    159

Radikálisok, szabadgondolkodók, ateisták: A Galilei Kör története (1908–1919) [Radicals, freethinkers, atheists: The history of the Galileo Circle 1908–1919]. By Péter Csunderlik. Reviewed by Eszter Balázs    163

Europe’s Balkan Muslims: A New History. By Nathalie Clayer and Xavier Bougarel. Translated by Andrew Kirby. Reviewed by Cecilie Endresen    166

A magyarországi németek története. [The history of the Germans of Hungary]. By Gerhard Seewann. Translated by Zsolt Vitári. Reviewed by Ágnes Tóth    170

Export Empire: German Soft Power in Southeastern Europe, 1890–1945. By Stephan Gross. Reviewed by Vera Asenova    175

A terror hétköznapjai: A kádári megtorlás, 1956–1963 [The everyday weekdays of terror: The reprisals of the Kádár Regime, 1956–1963]. By Zsuzsanna Mikó. Reviewed by Gábor Tabajdi    179

Gender in 20th Century Eastern Europe and the USSR. Edited by Catherine Baker. Reviewed by Dóra Czeferner    184

A Contemporary History of Exclusion: The Roma Issue in Hungary from 1945 to 2015. By Balázs Majtényi and György Majtényi. Reviewed by Csaba Dupcsik    187

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