In Romanian media, Szeklerland — a region in Central Romania with an ethnic Hungarian majority – is often evoked as a troublesome part of the country, where Romanians are discriminated against and Hungarian separatism undermines the authority of the state. This representation has endured since the fall of Communism in 1989, even though — unlike in other regions of Europe — the local Hungarian autonomist movement has always relied on peaceful means. The mainstream Romanian discourse, with its focus on the political efforts of Hungarian parties, the symbolic rivalry between Hungarian and Romanian elites, and the fight for economic resources has largely been unchanged. This conflict-oriented perspective makes for a skewed and ethnicized representation of Szeklerland, portrayed as an ‘intolerant region’. While the region witnessed only a minor Hungarian–Romanian conflict in March 1990, the topics of instability and constant tension pervaded the media discourse regarding Szeklerland during the 1990s. Even though the dominant nationalist discourse has become less virulent, this pattern has persisted with the advent of digital and new media formats. Many contemporary representations of Szeklerland on commercial television and social media platforms keep reproducing the stereotypes inherited from the 1990s. This article is based on a historical approach, and, through the analysis of several recent Romanian short documentary films about the Szekler area, highlights the reproduction of the region’s imagery and the most common strategies that feed this polarizing representation.
Keywords: autonomy, Hungarians in Romania, interethnic relations, new media, representation, Szeklerland
How to Cite:
Zahorán, C., (2023) “Land of peaceful separatists – the Szeklerland in Romanian media”, Studies on National Movements 11(1), 123-157. doi: https://doi.org/10.21825/snm.89002