Hungarian Religion, Romanian Blood

A Minority's Struggle for National Belonging, 1920-1945

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R. Chris Davis
  • Madison, WI: 
    University of Wisconsin Press
    , January
     272 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Historical lessons pertinent to today's resurgent nationalisms

Amid the rising nationalism and racial politics that culminated in World War II, European countries wishing to "purify" their nations often forced unwanted populations to migrate. The targeted minorities had few options, but as R. Chris Davis shows, they sometimes used creative tactics to fight back, redefining their identities to serve their own interests.

Davis's highly illuminating example is the case of the little-known Moldavian Csangos, a Hungarian- and Romanian-speaking community of Roman Catholics in eastern Romania. During World War II, some in the Romanian government wanted to expel them. The Hungarian government saw them as Hungarians and wanted to settle them on lands confiscated from other groups. Resisting deportation, the clergy of the Csangos enlisted Romania's leading racial anthropologist, collected blood samples, and rewrote a millennium of history to claim Romanian origins and national belonging—thus escaping the discrimination and violence that devastated so many of Europe's Jews, Roma, Slavs, and other minorities. In telling their story, Davis offers fresh insight to debates about ethnic allegiances, the roles of science and religion in shaping identity, and minority politics past and present.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

R. Chris Davis is Associate Professor of History at Lone Star College–Kingwood.


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