Flags and Autonomy

On 14 February 2022, the first book launch event of the semester discussed the book "A székely zászló a politikától a hétköznapokig – tárgy, identitás, régió” (Flag of Szeklers from Politics to Everydays  – Object, Identity and Region) by Ágnes Patkafalvi-Czirják. 


The Szekler Flag in a town in Romania. Photo by Csaba Zahorán

Besides the author, we had Gergő István Székely joining us from Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca, Romania). Ágnes Patakfalvi-Czirják primarily wished to discuss how an ethno-regional movement used the tools of 19th nationalism in the age of late capitalist globalization. The research, which had been going on since 2012, revealed that the emphasis of the movement around the flag shifted from the issue of Hungarians in Romania to specifically Szekler identity and autonomy.    

The book gives a clear idea of the chronology of the use of the flag from the debates around its design around 2004 through its rise and the problems of the quasi ban that later legislation imposed in Romania. At the same time, the discussion highlighted that the flag went through "domestication" within the Hungarian public as it started off as a radical symbol of marginal and radical movements and became accepted within the Hungarian population as a banner of minority Hungarian politics in Romania.