Critical Analysis of National Stereotypes in Popular Culture: Narrative of ‘Evil Hungarians’ in the Czech Historical Discourse

    • Nice November 2018
    • Presentation speakers
      • Jan Květina, Metropolitan University in Prague, Czech Republic


    If we observe contemporary political discourse of Central Europe, there are two important points frequently mentioned in the public sphere: first, the rise of the so called ‘new nationalism’ and second, strengthening of the Visegrád partnership. However, apart from those visible and hyped features, it is necessary to take deeper and historically determined animosities into account. Accepting Renan’s thesis about ‘collective forgetting’ as well as Schmitt’s concept of symbolical antagonistic identity, it is desirable to admit that the problem of ‘new nationalism’ could reflect very old traditions of mutual tensions. The image of national enemy as an inherent part of Central European identity can be found especially within the long-term cultural context that is supposed to be analysed by the critical discourse analysis of various artistic performances. Furthermore, the question of maintaining Central European stereotypes within the cultural discourse is strongly linked to the principle of national traumas resulting from the theory of the so called ‘non-self-evident nations’. In the specific Czech context, the artistic interpretation of traumas such as the Munich crisis or White Mountain defeat – both reflecting the evolution of anti-German stereotypes – is especially significant. Nonetheless, apart from the anti-German figures, one should not underestimate the process of stigmatization of lesser Central European nations such as Poles and Hungarians. In this regard, it is highly required to analyse symbolical depiction of Polish and Hungarian nobleman as a fatal adversary of Czech national emancipation; depiction that has been neglected so far although it has always represented the fundamental attribute of Czech anti-Hungarian discourse since 1867. Interpretation of Hungarian nationalism in the Czech narrative can be thus considered as the essential issue for understanding identity formation process on the basis of ‘the principle of besieged fortress’ and the construction of chauvinist stereotypes. Stereotyping of anti-Hungarian attitudes in 1867 and their later reproduction in the historical narrative of Czech popular culture therefore represent an important question which is supposed to clarify the way the national identity can be constructed within the cultural discourse and which also demonstrates the relevance of critical analysis for its identification.