Neglected Peripheries: Discovering Hybridity in Transylvania

  • Abstract:

    The paper builds on the general premise that scholarly approaches to ethnic diversity in Romania (or Central and Eastern Europe in general) follow the theoretical lines informing the top-down study of nationalism and ethnicity which focus on the binary logic of national majority-minority relations, and envision the coexistence of separate, parallel, ethnocultural ‘worlds’ and ‘ethnic groups in a multicultural framework. Social research does not make the next theoretical step towards, first acknowledging, then analyzing and theorizing the multiple occurrences of cultural and ethnic ‘mixtures’. The aim of the paper is to argue for an alternative perspective which can address the neglected phenomena of ‘ethnic hybridity’ or ‘hybrid identities’ arising from ambiguities of identification and belonging in the ‘peripheries’ of Transylvania. Focusing on surveys addressing the topics of inter-marriage, bilingualism and media consumption in the discussed region, the paper claims that there is strong empirical evidence to support such an alternative theoretical approach in framing and defining ethnic diversity in Transylvania. The paper concludes that the social and cultural particularities of the ‘peripheries’ produce a mixed socialization that determines the emerging ‘hybrid identities’. Put differently: if the usual markers of ethnicity, like descent/family, language and social/cultural practices have such a heterogeneous and mixed nature then the resulting ethnicity, or ethnic identity, will be a ‘hybrid’ one.