Those were all Serbian Villages by the Danube: The Concept of Spce in Collective Narratives of the Serbs in Hungary
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One of the oldest written records of Serb migration to Hungary dates back to 1440 and refers to refugees who fled the Banat town of Kovin devastated by the Ottoman Turks, founding a new settlement of the same name on the Danube Island of Csepel (Hun. Ráckeve, Ser. Srpski Kovin; Ćirković 1982: 320). Although migration persisted from the Ottoman to the Hungarian territories – later Habsburg and Austro-Hungarian – two great waves have been particularly noted by historians. The First Serbian Migration led by the Orthodox Patriarch Arsenije III Čarnojević in 1690, also known as The Great Migration (Ser. Velika seoba), is thought to have been undertaken by about 30,000 Serbs, perhaps more. The Second Serbian Migration occurred in 1737, again led by an Orthodox Patriarch, Arsenije IV Jovanović, (Ćorović 1989; Popović 1954; Veselinović 1993). Ever since, the number of people declaring themselves as ethnic Serbs in population censuses, or declaring Serbian to be their mother tongue, has varied..., as has the territory of Hungary throughout its history. Glancing at the census figures for the area of present-day Hungary, it is evident that the number of Serbian native language speakers decreased considerably throughout the 20th century. Since 1980, the numbers of those whose native language is Serbian and those whose nationality is Serbian have been approximately the same, the sign of a small, tightly-knit community. What kind of space model is unfolded by the collective narratives of the Szigetcsép Serbs? Constructed as a catalogue of topographic mnemotopos, the narratives of origin reveal space conceptualised as a discrete series of strong places, i.e. the Danube, the Serbian villages near the Danube, the first, the second, and the third settlement of Szigetcsép. Remembering the Danube (connection to the motherland) and Serbian villages by the Danube (connection to the Serbian community in Hungary), the Szigetcsép Serbs provide a spatial framework for their micro-community (three settlements). In regard to the settlements too, certain strong places or sites were singled out and remembered, most of them being in fact sacred sites (the church, the cross, etc.). Yet again, in the origin narratives the dynamic process of remembering and oblivion can be traced. The last thing the informants remembered about the first settlement – the furthest removed from them in time – was its physical locus, and this was preserved only vaguely in oral collective memory. This finding justifies the argument of Detelić (1992: 317) that in the process of cultural modelling the space is always attached to the "original" as its inseparable element. As for the collective identity of the Szigetcsép Serbs, it could be said that the semantics of physical continuity embodied in the space model dominate, absorb and emanate time semantics. Through the catalogue of settlements time takes on flesh, and becomes palpable and visible. However, in the collective narrative on the village area, space is conceptualised through binary oppositions, "own/alien", "our/their" (the Swabian/Catholic/Serbian part), and even through very archaic opposition "sacred/profane" (the cross, the processions delineating and consecrating the Serbian part as the sacred one). Yet, the oppositions "friendly/hostile", "familiar/unfamiliar" are left out of this space concept. In the case of the Serbs in Hungary it is obvious that space marked as "own", "our", "sacred" was delineated primarily along the confessional principle. As Mladenova (2004: 177) points out, four valuable elements constitute the basis for the various identity discourses: the people who participate in the events that take place in a certain territory over time. The values attributed to these four variables as well as the choice of events to be remembered will vary for different discourses even when they are rooted in the same set of reality. "This significance is determined by their being perceived as having some consequence for the present: we are what we are because this or that happened in our past" (Holy 1996: 117; cit. Mladenova 2004: 107). In that sense, the analysed discourse samples do not reflect real, everyday life as they are highly charged with emotion and ideological values. The memory of the migration route provides for the Szigetcsép Serbs a sense of community across time and space and supports the notion of "belonging" to the native Serbian ethnic group. On the other hand, if we compare these results with field research among the neighbouring South-Slav Catholics in the village of Tököl (unpublished field material by the author), we see that space model and migration route play almost no role in identity negotiation within this community. The persistence of such an archaic space notion with many of its antiquated features among the Serbian peasantry in Hungary is certainly due to confessional differentiation in the multi-confessional environment of what was formerly Austro-Hungary, where the confessional mark in the Serbian case has been reflected and imprinted on the space, memory practice and identity discourse. As significant changes in socio-cultural settings take place throughout Europe, it remains to be seen how new forms of identity negotiations will expand among the younger and coming generations in a rural environment. In that sense it would be interesting to compare traditional and contemporary concepts of space among South-Slav Catholics, and the South-Slav and Romanian Orthodox living in the multi-ethnic environment of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Keywords:Срби у Мађарској / Чип у Мађарској / теренска истраживања / антрополошка лингвистика / критичка дискурс анализа / етнички идентитет / колективни наративи / концепт простора / легендарно досељавање / Serbs in Hungary / Szigetcsép in Hungary / fieldwork / anthropological linguistics / critical discourse analysis / ethnic identity / concept of space / legendary settling / origin narratives / наративи порекла
Source:Ottoman and Habsburg Legacies in the Balkans. Language and Religion to the North and to the South of the Danube, 2010, 265-289
- München, Berlin : Verlag Otto Sagner
- Studies on Language and Culture in Central and Eastern Europe (Book 8) ZUSAMMENFASSUNG Im historischen Aufriss und in feldforschungsbasierten Studien wird deutlich, welche Rolle die Donau als Kulturgrenze zwischen dem Erbe der Habsburger und der Osmanen spielt. Das Ende beider Imperien ist letztlich durch den Import des Sprachnationalismus in ethnisch stark durchmischte und national weitgehend indifferente Milieus besiegelt worden, in denen das neue Ideal überdialektaler Einsprachigkeit zugleich als Ausweis ethnischer und nationaler Gruppenzugehörigkeit gewertet wurde. Dieser Band enthält drei Beiträge von Markus Koller, Milena Marić-Vogel und Christoph Giesel zum ehemals osmanischen (Bosnien und SandŽak) und vier Beiträge von Philipp Wasserscheidt, Marija Vučković, Marija Ilić und Ivo Žanic zum ehemals habsburgischen Südosteuropa (Südungarn). Die Artikel thematisieren das Verhältnis von Sprache, Religion und Ethnizität.