Time in Villages: Timekeeping and Modernization in Rural Communities in the Long Nineteenth Century in Hungary

Gábor Koloh
Research Centre for the Humanities
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 12 Issue 1  (2023):66–86 DOI 10.38145/2023.1.66

The study explores the changing perception of time through the records of a multi-generational peasant family. By comparing several rural manuscripts from different times and places, the study traces the refinement of the way time is thought, its new meanings, and its emergence in farming and family life. The appearance of the clock plays an important role in the analysis. The clock, first as a prestige object in the household, gradually becomes a tool for the modern use of time. The replacement of calendars by newspapers in the first decades of the 20th century is also a decisive factor in the perception of time. The world expands and information about more and more distant lands is brought into peasant households. The study places important emphasis on the idea that rural households are the last base for the spread of globalization phenomena. What is already occurring at this level within each country is where the spread of the phenomenon has come to an end.

Keywords: rural history, globalization, family history, use of time, peasant traditions

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Stjepan Radić and Nikola Pašić as Heralds of Liberal Democracy in Croatia and Serbia: Historiographical Myths and Reality

Alexander Silkin
Russian Academy of Sciences
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 12 Issue 1  (2023):87–117 DOI 10.38145/2023.1.87

Historians from the former Yugoslav republics traditionally participate in ongoing political discussions about the ways in which their homelands should progress. Referring to their knowledge of the past, scholars indicate certain historic phenomena and time periods that should serve as ideal models that should be “reproduced” by modern societies in the near future. With regard to the Serbian historiography, the late Belgrade professor Miroslav Jovanović detected several “restoration ideas,” the implementation of which, according to their adherents, would allow modern society to “revise the mistakes of history.” In today’s Serbia and Croatia, certain historical figures, with real and imaginary virtues, are presented as role models and heralds of everything progressive in the field of politics and state building. In particular, in the works of many authors, Nikola Pašić, the head of the Serbian People’s Radical Party (PRP), and Stjepan Radić, the chairman of the Croatian (Republican) Peasant Party (C(R)PP), appear as the “founding fathers” of liberal democratic traditions in the late nineteenth century and the first three decades of the twentieth. The “golden era of Serbian parliamentarism” (1903–1914), which was characterized by the dominance of the PRP and the virtual “Croatian Neutral Peasant Republic,” a program that allowed the C(R)PP to consolidate the Croatian people in the 1920s, are worthy candidates of “restoration.” In this article, I consider whether there is any substantial historical truth to these images. I conclude that neither the PRP nor the C(R)PP (and neither Pašić nor Radić) espoused liberalist tendencies, which would have favored individualist ethics and respect for the rights of minorities. Both leaders and their parties adhered to the principle of majority dominance and were intolerant of anyone who did not belong to this majority, whether for ethnic, social, or other reasons. The PRP and C(R)PP could be described as the patterns of the same socio-political phenomenon, separated by several decades. They shared and made use of common ideological roots, social bases, organizational structures, self-perceptions among the leadership, slogans, and other strategies and tools of mass manipulation. These factors and also the influence of the nineteenth-century Russian narodnik movement on both parties during their formative periods make them typologically more related to the Russian Bolsheviks than they ever were to Western liberal trends.

Keywords: Serbia, Croatia, Yugoslavia, republic, parliamentarism, liberal democracy, Nikola Pašić, Stjepan Radić, politics of memory, historical myths

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Rural Reactions to Modernization: Anti-Modernist Features of the 1883 Anti-Hungarian Peasant Uprising in Croatia

Veronika Eszik
Research Centre for the Humanities
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 12 Issue 1  (2023):37–65 DOI 10.38145/2023.1.37

In the post-Compromise Croatia–Slavonia (1868–1914) several peasant uprisings indicated a deep crisis in the rural world. Previous literature abundantly discussed the economic and social motives of these protests and interpreted the tensions as signs of the peasantry’s national awakening. In the present article, through a rereading of archival documents related to the 1883 protests, I draw attention to the perplexity of peasants when they should have identified national symbols. I argue, that the attitude of the peasants towards symbols turned against every kind of power symbol regardless of its link to a given nation. Adding a layer of nuance to the canonical explanations of peasant unrest allows us to draw attention to popular sensibilities to the ever-expanding state’s intrusion into rural areas and to the state’s modernizing interventions perceived as coercion. The ways in which the peasantry responded with hostility and violence to spaces, symbols, and figures associated with modernization make it very clear that modernization was seen by the peasantry as a potential danger (hence the anti-modernist epithet of the 1883 events). Thus, we should abandon the assumption that elite imaginations of modernity and modernization simply trickled down to the peasantry or that peasants accepted the teleology of modernization without criticism or anxiety. This article is also an attempt to read peasant rumors as historical sources independently of their truthfulness at the factual level, concentrating rather on what they tell us about the peasants’ fears and motivations and the strategies they used to cope with rapid changes in their lifeworld.

Keywords: Croatia–Slavonia, Hungarian Kingdom, peasant movements, rural history, anti-modernism, rumor theory

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Milk and Laboratories in Urban-Rural and State-Society Relations: The Case of Hungary from the Beginning of Wartime Shortages until the Great Depression

Róbert Balogh
University of Public Service, Institute of Central European Studies
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 12 Issue 1  (2023):118–146 DOI 10.38145/2023.1.118

The paper analyses the roles of milk production and milk supply in the changes of the state-society relations and knowledge production in 20th early century Hungary. It places laboratories and the perception of milk as material in the centre of analysis prompting a narrative that takes account of the hybrid nature of milk. Building on arguments that Bruno Latour and Timothy Mitchell formulated, this study reveals key aspects of government, economy and modernity by using the notion that there are no clear boundaries between culture and nature. Hybridity also refers to the impossibility of controlling for all aspects of “nature.” The first part of the paper takes laboratories as junctures of legislation and urban-rural relations. The second part highlights the urban conditions as well as the local political contexts of milk consumption and milk shortage in the World War I and post-World War I period. Overall, the paper is a case for why food history is one of the ways to take research beyond methodological nationalism without having to ignore the realm of politics.

Keywords: Food shortage, urban-rural relations, milk history, history of science, history of cooperatives, interwar Hungary

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How to Study Early Popular Engagement with Nationalism: Sources, Strategies, Research Traditions

Ágoston Berecz
Central European University
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 12 Issue 1  (2023):3–36 DOI 10.38145/2023.1.3

The article combines methodological considerations with an overview of the literature on early popular nationalism, in which studies on Central and Eastern Europe occupy pride of place. Within these thematic confines, my aim is to give a broad sense of the methodological challenges of writing history from below. After a brief sketch of the problem area, I pass to the question of demarcating and contextualizing modern nationalism and discuss a few conventionally used indicators of national allegiances (tax discipline, draft evasion, turnout at national festivals, abidance by linguistic standards). Subsequently, the major part of the paper is organized according to the source types that historians have utilized to explore the relationship of the lower classes to the national paradigm: archival sources, folklore and ethnographic material, various kinds of egodocuments, press reportage, readers’ columns, and non-narrative sources. I address the interpretive issues that each source type raises, citing abundant examples from the literature, including my own research.

Keywords: bottom-up history, Central and Eastern Europe, egodocuments, long nineteenth century, popular nationalism

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A World Lifted off Its Hinges: The Social Impact of World War I on Hungary

Zsombor Bódy
Eötvös Loránd University
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 11 Issue 4  (2022):702–732 DOI 10.38145/2022.4.702

As was true virtually everywhere, World War I brought about significant social changes in Hungary. As a consequence of the wartime mobilization of the economy, the relationship between employers and workers in industry was transformed, as was the relationship between owners of different sizes of estates and farms and agricultural workers in rural areas. In both spheres, groups emerged which were much better organized than before. Some of them were capable of coordinated political action, and the balance of power between them changed rapidly over time. The wartime government tried to ensure continuous coordination and reconciliation of interests between the various ownership and labor groups in agriculture and industry, but it ultimately failed. Beyond the military defeat, this failure was the primary determining factor of the events of 1918–19 in Hungary. By analyzing the group dynamics of wartime society and the wartime economy in Hungary, this paper seeks to outline the social and historical background of the political struggles that came in the wake of the war. It ventures two core contentions. First, the emergence of various agricultural and industrial interest groups and their coordination with one another and with the government in the aftermath of the war constituted mechanisms of integration that had not existed before the war. As a result, the diverse socio-professional groups in Hungary became more integrated into one society within the framework of the state. The second finding contention is that the counterrevolutionary regime that took over in late 1919 was more successful than previous governments had been in establishing a balance between the different groups of owners and workers and learning from previous experience, and this was why it was able, ultimately, to consolidate its hold on power.

Keywords: World War I, Hungary, social history, labor history, history of rural society

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World War I as a Historical Divide

Béla Tomka
University of Szeged
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Hungarian Historical Review Volume 11 Issue 4  (2022):675–701 DOI 10.38145/2022.4.675

While World War I certainly represents a historical rupture in Europe and many parts of the world, there are diverging views in scholarly literature and broader historical discourse regarding its character as a dividing line between historical periods. The essay identifies three main positions within the debate and elaborates on the broader consequences of these interpretations. Several scholars consider World War I as the end of an earlier, longer historical era. According to another periodization, the two World Wars and the two decades separating them make up an era together, which is distinct from the pre-1914 and post-1945 periods. Finally, a third major current interprets World War I as the overture to a new epoch. Each of the three approaches can be relevant to research on World War I and the twentieth century, but there are considerable divergences between the interpretations thus produced. If we regard World War I as the endpoint of the previous era, then great emphasis should be placed on the road leading up to the war. If we conceive of the two World Wars and the decades between them as a single unit, then we should focus on violence as a defining feature of the periodization, and short-term factors should be highlighted. Finally, if we understand the Great War as the beginning of a new period which lasted until the end of the twentieth century or beyond, World War I will be seen as the Urkatastrophe (primordial catastrophe) that set the stage for World War II and, indirectly, for the Cold War, while also generating seminal long-term processes in politics, society, and the economy.

Keywords: twentieth century, Europe, World War I, historiography, periodization

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