Searching for fraternity: 19th Hungarian travellers in the Caucasus

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Zsuzsanna Varga


Early nineteenth century Hungarian cultural consciousness actively engaged in searching for the ethic and linguistic origins of Hungarians. These ethnographical and linguistic searches, according to the established scholarship, focus on finding fraternities with the Finno – Ugric, or, alternatively, with the Turkic peoples with whom Hungarians shared the territories of the Russian steppes. Less documented are the theories of Caucasian origins, which joined to these imaginings from the early 1830s, with travellers visiting the region with an increasing frequency and describing their experiences of travel with details of geography, visual arts, linguistics, and culture. Though inspired by a search for ethnic and linguistic collectivities, these volumes offer glimpses into the contemporary culture of region through a dual lens of Eurocentrism and fraternal curiosity. The paper will sketch out the image that Hungarian travellers formed of the region during the 19th century on the basis of the work of János Besse (Tudósítások a Kaukázus mellékéről /Reports from the Caucasus , 1829), István Nogel (Utazása Keleten /Travels in the East, 1847) and Mór Déchy Utazasaim a Kaukázusban /My travels in the Caucasus, 1907).

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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