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Kovács, Éva


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1 article of this author has been cited in the European Press Review so far.


Élet és Irodalom - Hungary | 23/02/2009

Éva Kovács on the cultural reasons for Hungarian anti-Roma sentiment

The cultural anthropologist Éva Kovács comments in the liberal-intellectual weekly newspaper Élet és Irodalom on the cultural reasons for the anti-Roma sentiment of many Hungarians: "Historical examples in Germany and the United States show that discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity can be encountered not only among isolated individuals or radical groups, but as the 'cultural code' of a majority. ... However these examples also demonstrate that the 'cultural code' can be changed. Consequently it is not some kind of Hungarian curse. Ideally it can simply blow over, disappear, or make way for other ideas. Anti-Roma sentiment in Hungary is fed by prejudice, but also by negative experiences with 'Gypsies'. Yet for it to become the determining behavioural pattern of the majority ... society as a whole must be in a confused, morbid state. ... The cultural code of xenophobic attitudes to the Roma in Hungary comes from the fact that people talk from the gut and say things like 'he steals because he's a Gypsy' or 'he doesn't work because he's a Gypsy', etc. Our tongues also obey a negative automatism. But that need not be the case. For instance we could say: 'He steals because otherwise he'll starve."

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