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Avatarurile unei universități maghiare la Cluj

The Avatars of a Hungarian University in Cluj
[journal article]

Nastasă, Lucian

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Abstract his paper aims to illustrate how institutionalized education has been a significant identity management strategy for an ethnic group in Romania. After its foundation in 1872, the University of Kolozsvár (Cluj) was regarded as a provincial higher education establishment within the Austro-Hungarian Empire, meant to satisfy merely regional demands. Although legally the two Hungarian universities (in Budapest and Kolozsvar) were considered equal in rank, government and society gave priority to the first one. It is only over time that the University of Kolozsvár proved its utility. This change of image resulted in a leading position, especially at the start of the twentieth century. After the outbreak of the World War I, the activity of the University witnessed disruptions due to the drafting of many professors and students into the Army. The end of the the war not only meant the achievement of ‘national unity’ for Romania, but also generated significant changes for Ferenc József University, beginning with the process of dismissing minorities from the public sector and replacing them with Romanians. After the Second Vienna Award, the University of Cluj became Hungarian once again. The historical lesson of the inter-war period on the treatment of minorities had to be prevented from repeating itself, and within the new geopolitical context the USSR seemed the guarantor for the final resolution of the ethnic rivalries and resentments. In this ideological context, on 29 May 1945 two royal decrees sanctioned the functioning of two distinct universities in Cluj; the Hungarian university János Bolyai officially opened its doors. The preservation of a representative higher education institution for the Hungarian minority in Cluj, adapted to the new political realities, was achieved. But after Stalin’s death in 1953 the feelings of ‘national specificity’ resurged, and national histories were re-individualized and reconstructed. The events in Budapest in the autumn of 1956 offered further reasons for central authorities to rethink the ‘national domain’. In the years to come, propaganda insisted on the futility of institutional separation between the Romanian and Hungarian students in Cluj. Hence, a meeting of the unification commissions, held in 1959 led to the fusion of the two universities. This evolution of the University of Cluj shows the constraints, openings, compromises, and ‘avatars’ of the most important institution of higher education in Transylvania, which continues to function as a source of symbolic prestige and social capital for both Hungarians and Romanians.
Keywords university; social history; education; ethnic relations; ethnic group; minority; Hungarian; Romania; history of education
Classification Basic Research, General Concepts and History of Education and Pedagogics
Free Keywords Babeş-Bolyai University
Document language Other language
Publication Year 2014
Page/Pages p. 71-98
Journal Annals of the University of Bucharest / Political science series, 16 (2014) 1
ISSN 1582-2486
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works