From national inclusion to economic exclusion: ethnic Hungarian labour migration to Hungary (Working Paper #145)

Jon E. Fox, University of Bristol

Abstract: Over the past fifteen years, Hungarian nationalists have been redefining membership in the Hungarian nation to include all Hungarians in the region, irrespective of citizenship. This deterritorialised notion of the nation has been given increased discursive and institutional legitimacy. But ethnic Hungarians from Romania who have gone to Hungary in search of work have not discovered national unity. Rather, the vision of national inclusion preferred by elites has been met by the reality of economic and national exclusion engendered through labour migration. The migrants’ national self-understandings have taken shape not in accordance with the wishes of nationalist elites, but rather in response to the economic imperatives of labour migration. Rather than deducing the salience of national unity from its political privileging, the purpose of this paper is to explain how national disunity is experienced, constituted and reproduced in the context of ethnic Hungarian labour migration.

Working Paper #145 »