Elite-level Use of Ethnic Categories in Post-Socialist Slovakia

  • Abstract:

    This paper is a single-study of post-socialist ethnic identification in today’s Slovakia rooted in post-Barthian approach to ethnicity. It deals with the ways in which ethnic categories, ethnic symbolism and ethnic interpretations were used in elite-level political mobilization during the 2012 electoral campaign focusing on the victorious party SMER-SD. Political speeches, programmes and other types of audiovisual and written documents will be examined using CAQDAS tools (MAXQDA) to identify what kinds of political issues were ethnicized, which ethnic symbols were used and what kind of ethnic out-group was emphasized in the campaign. Drawing from anthropological perspectives and models of ethnicity (stressing the negotiated, relational, performative and situational aspects) this paper seeks to find out whether ethnicity continues to provide a politically significant basis for identification and state-driven homogenization or is being replaced by other forms of discourses based on collective identities resonant with the ongoing neoliberal transformation of post-socialist Slovak politics. It will try to answer the question whether the instrumentally used ethnic Others are being transformed by these processes or whether essentialist ethnic categorization based on metaphors of kinship, blood and religion continue to be politically effective in Slovakia.