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utolsó frissítés: 2008. ápr. 17.

Battlegrounds of identity politics: nationalising universities in a multicultural context. Paper given at the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menchen, "Europe or the Globe" seminar, 14th of June 2006.




First let me reveal briefly the story of why my relationship with this issue is an awkward one, and why I am feeling uncomfortable talking about this, while, of course, I am trying to have a distanced view on how a particular higher education institution — the Babes-Bolyai University from Cluj, Romania — functions as a battleground of ethnic identity politics both for Romanians and Hungarians. For this reason I will start my presentation by quoting the opinion of the local Bolyai Initiative Committee that, during the last year re-launched the fight for the creation of the independent, Hungarian-language public university: "The re-establishment of the "Bolyai" university can be only delayed, but may not be impeded. Those who want to delay it, regardless to who they are will remain as dark figures on the pages of the history book." Up to this, the Committee also affirmed: "the spokespersons of the Romanian majority intolerance, among them some ethnic Hungarian university staff often propagate lies to hamper the process of building this university". If one knows that I am considered to be among these "ethnic Hungarian dark figures", easily understands the sources of the awkwardness of my relationship with the discussed topic. Broadening the sense of this position towards political meanings let me quote another opinion expressed by the newspaper Népszabadság from Hungary in May this year, at the time when it became clear that the European Commission's country report on Romania does not include the issue of ethnic Hungarians, not to talk about that of the separate Hungarian university: "Why should we always keep up-to-date the trauma of Trianon? Because always there were and are national traders among us!" You may guess that, alongside others, I am supposed to be such a "national trader". Because during the past ten years, both in my scholarly work and public talks, I formulated arguments against separating the existent Babes-Bolyai university into two ethnically divided institutions, but also for resisting to the authority of the (Romanian and Hungarian) nationalizing discourses.  In 1997, after a heated round of public debates on separation, during which, among others, the idea of the multicultural university was first introduced by the university's rector, I was told that I am neglecting the fact that in 1959, when the Hungarian and the Romanian universities of Cluj were unified, "many Hungarian professors committed suicide". During the 2006 debate at a certain moment I was stressing the requirement to maintain our confidence regarding and practices of transcending ethnic boundaries, abilities that are wildly needed in the 21st century's Europe. With this occasion many comments were reminding me, among others the followings: "we need to be unified in order to fight for the one of the most fundamental pretences of the Transylvanian Hungarians", or: "the university is about The people, about the national community that needs to have its own university and it is entitled to obtain it by the right of its existence", or: "we are proudly claiming back something that was stolen from us, so nobody may blame us for doing something wrong ", or: "it is impossible to co-operate with the Romanians, they are always lying, and we know that those minorities who pack with the majority simply disappear", or: "the representatives of the historical churches of Transylvania are calling the Hungarians from Transylvania to make a joint pray for the re-establishment of our mother-tongue higher education institution and are blessing the leaders of the secular fight carried out for our university."

All these statements reflect the fact that in our society this university functions as a master symbol wherein many other emblems of collective identity are merging, an icon through which people communicate, maintain and develop their knowledge about themselves and about each other.[2] It is a powerful symbol because it embodies the patterns of the historically formed meanings regarding the Romanian-Hungarian relationship in Transylvania or the ways of sharing a joint space, of treating the ethnic other and handling cultural differences. As such, since centuries, the university functions as an instrument of symbolic power[3] (by the means of which new generations are learning how to think about the world, how to connect or not to the ethnic others, and how to legitimate or change the existing political order). Implicitly, it is a constitutive element of a discursive power[4] that not only defines the rules of talking about the imagined community of the nation (in this way re-creating it permanently in certain meanings), but also produces the speakers themselves, and by classifying them, the relationships and hierarchies among them. That is why through the issue of this university one may understand the broader ethnic identity politics that functions as a politics of naming, recognition and positioning[5] in the local Romanian-Hungarian relationship, but may also reveal how old issues are played out in present political battles.


To understand how all these processes were and are functioning one needs to recall their history, as they are told today, used in the post-1990 debates on multiculturalism. In 1872, after the Austro-Hungarian conciliation, Kolozsvár got a Hungarian university, named in 1881 "Ferenc József Tudományegyetem". In this respect the unification of Transylvania with Romania resulted in the emigration of the Hungarian University to Szeged, while the so-called "Universitatea Română a Daciei Superioare" started to function in Cluj in 1919, being named in 1927 as "Universitatea Regele Ferdinand I din Cluj". When in 1940 the Decision of Vienna unified the Northern part of Transylvania with Hungary, this situation changed again. The Hungarian University returned to Kolozsvár, while the Romanian institution was exiled to Sibiu (a city in the Southern part of Transylvania that remained part of Romania). After 1944, when the leadership of Cluj was took over by the Soviet military and the Democratic Union of Northern Transylvania (including the Union of Hungarian Workers), decisions were taken about the destiny of the city's higher education institutions. The Hungarian University remained on its place, in 1945 gaining the name "Bolyai Tudományegyetem" and at the same time negotiations have been started regarding the return of the Romanian University, which happened in the very same year. As a result Cluj/Kolozsvár gained two separate universities, a situation that lasted until 1959, when they were unified under the name "Babeş-Bolyai University". From 1984 this institution was denominated in official documents as the University of Cluj-Napoca, and under its auspices the structures that were providing education in Hungarian language (the so-called "Hungarian section") were increasingly weakened and almost eliminated.

Even this short story of events and namings demonstrates that the destiny of the university of Cluj represents the ethnicized social order of the city, of its institutions and generally, of Transylvania. And, as such, it embodies the development of the dominant patterns of treating cultural differences and the ethnic other. One of these patterns is the conflictual model of segregation. According to the idea of "Romanian land, Romanian university", or that of "Hungarian land, Hungarian university", the dominant ethnic group exiles the non-dominant one far away from its environment, believing that absolute mono-culturalism and ethnic purity must be the proper model of existence. The second pattern - a form of a sort of relative mono-culturalism, or if you wish, of a separatist multiculturalism - is that of a division based on a consensus, which allows the development of two disconnected cultural worlds within the same social order, and is convinced that peaceful coexistence is guaranteed only by their strict delimitation. The third pattern follows the solution of institutional and cultural assimilation, in a way in which the mixture of the two formerly separated worlds is realized under the hegemony of the dominant ethnic group. These patterns were developed and used by Romanian and Hungarian intellectuals and politicians who treated the university located in Cluj as a crucial element of their national identities. The former defined it as "the symbol of Romanian unification", as "the holly place of national culture", and/or "the spiritual castle of the Romanian will, struggle and ideal". And the latter considered it to be "the symbol of national awakening", and "the guarantee of national continuity and persistence", which "has to insure the autonomous development of the Hungarian community". The permanent battles for one's own university contributed to the formation and maintenance of the idea that the coexistence of Romanians and Hungarians in Transylvania is nothing else than a continuous ethnic fight which always has its winners and losers, and most importantly of the conviction according to which Transylvania is "naturally" an ethno-national space, where people should be identified by their ethnic affiliations. This is the cultural and political context within which the re-invention of Babes-Bolyai University should have happened after 1990. 


The very majority of the Hungarian elite perceived the 1989's Romanian revolution as a chance to make justice in these terms and to (re)-obtain different forms of autonomy (including territorial and cultural). The re-establishment of the Hungarian cultural institutions formed in the 19th century and abolished during the socialist times, but also claims regarding the Szekler territorial autonomy (enjoyed more recently as a form of administration between 1952 and 1968) became the main preoccupation of the Hungarian politics of ethnic identity. At the same time vigorous struggles get started around the definition of what means to be an ethnic Hungarian in Romania, searching for the most "proper" representations of separatedness that resists assimilation. The notions of "partner nation" and/or that of "national community" aimed to locate the Hungarians from Romania in a position that was supposed to be assumable with more dignity than that by which they were situated under the socialist rule as a "national minority", and later as "a Hungarian speaker Romanian community". These struggles took place mainly by the means of a symbolic competition, excepting the bloody events from March 1990 at Tîrgu Mureş/Marosvásárhely. In this latter case the street manifestations demanding the right to learn in Hungarian language at all levels of public education, and the right to celebrate the Hungarian national holidays were followed, partially due to political manipulations, by violent conflicts among Romanian, Hungarian and Roma inhabitants.

The post-1990 Hungarian political effort wanted to rectify all the injustices experienced during socialism and in a way aimed to continue the cultural struggle started in 1918. When, as a result of the unification of Transylvania with Romania, the Hungarian elite had to invent how it is to be an ethnic minority in Romania. To have at the same time a citizenship relation with this country, an ethno-cultural relation with Hungary, but also to define Romanian Hungarianness as a third, autonomous, in-between agency, sometimes called the "bridge" among Hungary and Romania. The post-socialist Hungarian identity politics basically was developed as one of autonomy, which, as the new ruling elite said, should be considered not only the core issue of the national existence of the Hungarians, but also that of the new Romanian democracy. This continued the old politics of culture, through and by which high culture was identified as an entity that had to substitute for the own nation-state, becoming actually a symbolic state that preserves identity. On the other hand, the idea of autonomy was practiced by the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians from Romania in the terms of its own organizational structure, too. The Alliance, declaring the sanctity of being united, assumed the representation of all of the Hungarian civic and political initiatives from Romania. It was developed as an autonomous political subject with its local and central organizations, its own "Government", "Parliament", and, of course, President and Honorific President. By those times it expressed the idea according to which the Hungarian minority politics has always to be one of ethnic opposition however, starting with 1990, the Alliance had its representatives in both of the houses of the Romanian parliament.

Between 1990 and 1996 the issue of higher education in Hungarian language was one of the affairs through which the Hungarian elite communicated to "Romanians" their conception about the would-be status of this minority in the post-socialist Romania. Up to 1995 there were established sixteen non-governmental organizations which committed themselves to this domain. Within this self-constructed order the involved intellectuals and politicians considered that it was natural and legitimate to claim the Hungarian only educational institutions, including the autonomous Hungarian public university. As a result, they neglected somehow the issue of the existing, ethnically mixed Babeş-Bolyai University. The ethnicized discourse on and practice of building institutions conceived the development of teaching in Hungarian within the latter in the best case as a transition towards the fulfillment of the major aim of "autonomisation".  

The Hungarian efforts of building an autonomous system of institutions were articulated not only in the relationship between Romanians and Hungarians. They created and represented some internal differences as well, differentiating the Hungarian society from Romania on regional lines. The debate was going on between the cultural center - represented by the advocates of Kolozsvár — and the "peripheries" represented by the elite of Székelyföld (Szeklerland) and of some of other major Transylvanian cities. People living on the "peripheries" aimed to increase their own prestige, and to locate themselves in a "proper" position within the reconstructed social and cultural order. In their arguments, the need to establish institutes of higher education in other towns then Kolozsvár, was based on the idea of the ethnically more "pure" nature of the regions they represented. And on the belief according to which in those environments the Hungarians could claim and preserve their national identity more properly and safely than in a place dominated by an extremist nationalist Romanian mayor (which was the case of Cluj during the 1990s). As a result private colleges were established in Csíkszereda/Miercurea-Ciuc and Nagyvárad/Oradea, enjoying financial support from Hungary. 

Meanwhile the restoration of the institutional structures of teaching in Hungarian language within Babeş-Bolyai University followed mainly a quantitative strategy of development. The fight was going on to create own territories within the common space. More concretely, to secure the existence of the so-called Hungarian groups of students at as many domains of study as possible, and to hire the needed number of Hungarian academics both at the departments that functioned during socialist times (like history, philosophy, philology and natural sciences) and at the ones established after 1990 (such as sociology, psychology, political science and journalism). Claims regarding the right to assure the Hungarian language teaching at the departments of economics and law were also formulated. Having representatives in the academic administration was also a main concern. The lack of the right to establish own departments and develop separate curricula made many academics to consider that this institution was not really theirs, their empowerment depended on the success of the informal negotiations made at the levels of departments, and was not ensured by formal rules and legislation. Altogether, their efforts were somehow in the shadow of the proclaimed major aim of re-establishing the once abolished Bolyai University.  


This whole situation started to change in 1996, when the democratic opposition won the elections in Romania by promising "The Change" itself. At that time "change" was understood as the process of the moral renewal of Romanian politics and society, as the implementation of the long-awaited economic reform, and as the integration of Romania in Europe. These were the conditions under which the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians entered into the Romanian government and minority politicians started to experience the meanings of assuming power positions and broader responsibilities than those strictly related to minority issues. However, the legacy of the political struggle for cultural autonomy continued to shape their attempts of inventing new strategies of leadership. But this moment was also the starting point of letting the internal tensions from the Alliance to become visible. Slowly a gap started to increase between those involved into the government (embodied by the president of the Alliance, Béla Markó) and between those excluded from the important power positions (embodied by the honorary president of the Alliance, László Tőkés). In 2000 the latter called the Hungarian population for not to give its votes to the Alliance with the occasion of the parliamentary elections, and eventually in 2003 was dismissed from the position of the Alliance's honorific president. These acts conducted to a total rupture in the same year, when Tőkés and his supporters established a separate organization, named the Hungarian National Council of Transylvania and the related Szekler National Council, but also the so-called Erdélyi Magyar Polgári Szövetség (the Transylvanian Hungarian Civic Alliance, baptized after the centre-right conservative and Christian Democratic Party from Hungary called FIDESZ — Magyar Polgári Szövetség, FIDESZ - Hungarian Civic Union). They were prevented of being registered as political parties so are functioning as public organizations that, as they say, "aim at representing the interests of the indigenous Hungarian community… by preparing, sustaining and proposing for approval legal measures to ensure the forms of autonomy demanded by this community".    

But before these further developments, right after 1996, the debate about the issue of higher education in Hungarian language came again into the focus of the political negotiations. The chance to rethink this was opened by the declarations of the new prime minister of Romania, who, during his first visit to Hungary at the beginning of 1997 declared: "we are going to change those requirements of the educational law that are obstacles in the development of the education in minority language… afterwards the university of Cluj is going to be established, which is going to be a process in two steps, first a Hungarian section within the existing Cluj university will be created." Referring to these declarations, the so-called "representatives of the Hungarian faculty" appealed the Rector with the demand to appoint a committee that would "discuss the establishment of the Hungarian Section of the University". At the same time, referring to the university's autonomy, the rector expressed his disagreement with the declarations of the prime minister (who, otherwise, a little bit later declined the rumor, according to which the government would suggest the separation of Babes-Bolyai University and stated: the government cannot interfere into the university's internal problems). Nevertheless, at the local university level two committees were established, a Hungarian and a Romanian one to make suggestions for the internal re-organization. The Romanian committee was preoccupied with conceiving it as a multicultural university, an idea put on the agenda by the rector. When the term multiculturalism came under discussion, the Romanian and the Hungarian versions were competing with each other. Respectively, the Hungarians considered that this was a "Romanian" proposal, and, as such, a new, hidden form of Romanian hegemony and manipulation. Further on, the political arguments dominated the stage, and it became compulsory to believe that the Hungarians could not accept any solution that would weaken the political fight for the fulfillment of the major aim, the establishment of the autonomous Hungarian university. Parallel with this the rector considered that the importance of defining Babes-Bolyai University as a multicultural one is even bigger in the context of the city politically dominated by an extremist Romanian nationalist party and generally of the spirit of the Romanian Constitution that defines Romania as a unitary nation-state. Exactly for these reasons, many Romanian scholars (and politicians) considered that "multiculturalism" is an excessively great favor made for the Hungarians, while the latter expressed that this is far for being enough for them.        

In their eyes, the credibility of the proposal coming from the "Romanian" committee to restructure the Babeş-Bolyai University as a multicultural institution within which the lines of study in Romanian, Hungarian, and German would co-exist, was decreased by the inclusion of the Germans in the picture. The "Hungarians" were convinced that this debate must consider their problems, and the solution has to rectify the injustices experienced by them. Under these conditions they stated that in the best case they could accept the formation of separate Hungarian departments and faculties that would give full autonomy to them and would insure their proportional representation in the academic administration. The document resulted from the debates of the Academic Senate stated the multicultural character of the university without considering the Hungarian proposal for separate departments and faculties, that is why, since then, the adepts of separation always stress that "multiculturalism" is a trap, a facade solution fabricated by the "Romanians" in order to avoid the split of Babes-Bolyai University. The Romanian-Hungarian opposition articulated in the debate about multiculturalism became even more politicized when the Rector of the University, Andrei Marga became the Ministry of Education. During the first part of 1998, the media represented the problem of multiculturalism as the stake of the "Markó versus Marga" fight. Under these conditions at the end of 1998 a new governmental decision was taken, that targeted the establishment of a Hungarian-German multicultural university. Again, a committee was created in order to elaborate the concrete project and to evaluate the possibilities of its realization. Paradoxically, the Ministry of Education expressed his disagreement with his own government's decision. But the Hungarian elite opposing multiculturalism as proposed by Romanians, considering it as a new form of Romanian hegemony, accepted the idea of the multicultural institution shared with Germans as its own conception. By resisting to mix with Romanians but accepting a structure within which its power was practically secured, the Hungarian identity politics actually have not done else, but rejected the subordination of Hungarians to Romanians. And by this, it made again an effort to restore the supposed cultural superiority of the former, looking forward to get a moral compensation for the injustices experienced historically. It was interesting to observe how the Romanian and Hungarian politics of identity, during their cultural fights instrumentalized a third part (the Germans) both in the context of the already existing Babes-Bolyai University, and in the context of the Petőfi-Schiller University project (that, otherwise, never-ever was put into practice).

After this period of heated debates the situation at Babes-Bolyai University started to stabilize. Improvements of the Hungarian line of study were undergoing. More and more Hungarian faculty achieved higher academic positions and could handle better the professional requirements of teaching, both numerically and qualitatively. Wherever Hungarian language education exists across the university, the Hungarians have the heads of their line of study, in some cases heads of departments, and also vice-deans, and at higher levels they are represented by two vice-rectors, one vice-president and by Academic Senate members. In the 1997/1998 academic year out of the 72 specializations at 28 departments students could learn in Hungarian and the "numerus clausus" for those who wished to study in Hungarian was defined at 500 (that was 13% of the by-than total number of students). By the 2005/2006 academic year the number of specializations where the Hungarian-language education became possible at the B.A. level increased to more than 50, there are offered more than 20 Hungarian M.A. programs and the percentage of the students learning in Hungarian grew to 18% (6.600 students out of the 37.000).

Despite of the high number of Hungarian students, faculty and programs at Babes-Bolyai University, its Hungarian line of study is less appreciated by many scholars and politicians from Romania and Hungary than the Hungarian private universities established in 2000, sustained by the Hungarian state, and administered basically by the Hungarian churches from Romania. These institutions, altogether, are having around 2.500 students and 390 professors. The Christian University of Partium (located in Oradea/Nagyvárad) and the Hungarian University "Sapientia" (with departments in three Transylvanian cities, Miercurea-Ciuc/Csíkszereda, Tîrgu-Mures/Marosvásárhely and Cluj/Kolozsvár), which at a certain moment merged into one, is sponsored yearly from Hungary with a basic grant of 2 milliard forint. Besides this amount other funds are also distributed unequally by foundations established to support what they call the Hungarians from abroad, but in fact to preferentially sustain certain initiatives in the detriment of others. This policy of financial support reflects perfectly the mainstream politics from Hungary regarding the Hungarians from abroad. Even if started in 2000 (but actually earlier) by the FIDESZ government (that always tried to construct its symbolic capital around the politics of the Hungarian cultural nation that included the Hungarians from abroad), it was and it is continued by the socialist and liberal coalition (which is supposed to have another type of politics regarding the Hungarian minorities from the neighborhood countries, but which actually do not dare to handle differently this issue).            


            As one may observe, the politics surrounding the Hungarian national minority were and are developed within the triangle composed by them, by Hungary (defined as their "mother country") and by the Romanian nation-state. As far as the Hungarian-Hungarian relationship is considered, one may observe how, while aiming to transcend state borders, they create other types of boundaries, turning this relationship for many times into a paternalistic one. One may even observe the paradoxical attitudes of the Hungarians from Romania, that are produced at the crossroads of the sense of cultural superiority developed vis-ŕ-vis the Romanians, and of the sense of inferiority felt in the front of Hungarians from Hungary. Especially the already mentioned Hungarian party FIDESZ had an intense presence in Transylvania both during times when it was on government, and maybe more intensively when it was in opposition, as it is since 2002. It used, for example to organize summer camps in Szeklerland, which became more and more its out-placed political academy. In 2004, its president, Viktor Orbán made a call to all the Hungarians of Transylvania: "it is right now the occasion to fight for autonomy… if till 2007 you will not succeed to gain it you may wait another 15-20 years till a next occasion would come". His local supporters and clients were obviously ready to take up the project, otherwise kept on the agenda by the already mentioned Hungarian and Szekler National Councils of Transylvania. The Szekler National Council started to prepare the announcement of Szekler autonomy with the occasion of the 15 th of March 2006, on the national holiday of Hungary. And the Bolyai Initiative Committee (mentioned at the beginning of my talk) constituted in May 2005, which states in its documents that it functions in a strict co-operation with the Hungarian National Council of Transylvania, using its logistic and administrative network, announced its demand to take on the struggle for the re-establishment of the Bolyai University. They started to act very quickly both at local and international levels.

In October 2005 the Committee organized public demonstrations in several Transylvanian cities, including Cluj, where a quite small mass of 300 people gathered in the front of the university with candles and inscriptions that stated, among others: "we are demanding a Hungarian public university", "they were giving to us only a half university, but we want a whole one on our own land". The vice-president of the Bolyai Initiative Committee, Péter Hantz declared in the front of the gathering: "here we are on the door-step of Romania's accession to the European Union and this is the very moment when we need to force the Romanians to hinder their anti-Hungarian politics"; "our two main aims are to establish the Bolyai University financed by the Romanian state, and to gain Romanian state support for the Hungarian private Sapientia University". The Committee did not make a secret out of its view about the means of the constitution of the independent Hungarian university: the existing Babes-Bolyai University should be broken up, but before this, three separate Hungarian faculties should be formed within the still existing institution, which, as such, at the time of separation, might be the inheritors of the university's infrastructure. Otherwise, as the Bolyai Initiative Committee and its supporters declared for many times: it will be time to think about how the new university will look like and function, first we need to obtain it, it is going to be ours, it is going to be good, only "intellectuals sitting on the gallery are wondering" on these aspects instead of taking part united with us in the real struggle. The ideologists of the group (like Miklós Bakk) conceived these developments as part of the "new fights" that will need to be carry on after Romania's unification with the European Union: "the strong agitation of the Bolyai Initiative Committee that strengthens conflicts and causes ruptures", he said, is part of an ethnic mobilization that is the most proper mean for struggling today and in the near future. Altogether they considered that the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians in Romania, however in the parliament and government, did not succeed to fulfill one of the major aims of the Hungarian community, so the activities of the Bolyai Initiative Committee are more than well-come. What kind of activities were these? After the public demonstrations, the Committee started to collect signatures from Hungarian scholars across university for demanding the formation of three separate Hungarian faculties (humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences). This action was mediated by the heads of the Hungarian line of study at different departments, and for many times it was not clear for those who signed for an option or for another, who and how will use their signatures. Or, due to the confusion made between the separation of the faculties on ethnic lines and the breaking up the existing university in two, how their signature for the separate faculties might be used in the argument for the university's separation. At the very beginning, out of the approximately 280 Hungarian scholars only 179 were asked to express their opinion. Others, people from the faculties of law, economy, psychology and sports were excluded from this round of questioning, because with the occasion of a former survey made among the Hungarian faculty by the Hungarian vice-rectors at the end of 2004 — due to different reasons — they expressed their will to remain within the existing structures. Out of the 179 asked scholars 149 expressed their desire to be included into the would-be Hungarian faculties, and even among them 10-20 noted that this would be acceptable by them only under certain conditions. Nevertheless, from that moment on, an overwhelming statistics got the role to convince the public opinion at home and abroad about the "fact" that 83% of the Hungarian academics wish to locate themselves into a new structure, which, by case, was defined by the would-be-hero fighters, as a set of new faculties, or as a brand new university. If the total number of the 280 professors would have been considered, this percentage could have been as high as 50 at the most. But the initial figures started their own life and were included as an argument wherever the Bolyai Initiative Committee decided to make lobby for their projects. They presented this statistics to the Academic Senate, together with a few paragraphs that demanded the formation of the separate Hungarian faculties, without any idea about how this could serve the teaching process or how would integrate into the whole university. The document was presented to the rectorate in November 2005 not by the Bolyai Initiative Committee, but by three Hungarian professors. The Romanian leadership was having its own tactics of dealing with it: they developed a document stating the university community's commitment towards Babes-Bolyai as a multicultural university, towards European values and towards quality in education, recognizing very timidly that further steps should be taken in order to improve the existing structure. The Academic Senate was asked to vote on this document, and implicitly rejecting the other, with the occasion of its meeting in February 2006. The Bolyai Initiative Committee was well-prepared for this turn as well, or, more properly said, they were prepared exactly for this: quickly announced the need for civic obedience among the Hungarian faculty, consisting of the recall of the own leaders from each position, and the requirement to focus on the establishment of the separate university. However, with the occasion of the meeting of the Hungarian faculty from March, the Committee proved to be unsuccessful: they could not gain enough votes for changing the two Hungarian vice-rectors and the Hungarian vice-president of the Academic College (whom they labeled as traders of the common goal) and the meeting ended with two separate statements. Eventually, in May 2006 they organized a broader Forum with the participation of the representatives of several universities from Transylvania, of the Hungarian churches and of the Democratic Alliance of Hungarians. The out-coming document — sent to the EU enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn as one that was supposed to be used in the would-be country report regarding Romania's accession to the EU — included demands regarding the constitution of three Hungarian faculties at Babes-Bolyai University and of Hungarian faculties at the Medicine University from Tirgu-Mures, the launch of Hungarian language teaching at universities that lack it, and the accreditation of and financial state support for the private Hungarian universities. The document was not signed by the Hungarian representatives of Babes-Bolyai University, an act followed by a further denigration campaign directed against them. One of them, Levente Salat stated that he continues to find a solution that reflects the multiple options of the heterogeneous Hungarian academic staff and which might be negotiated with the Romanian partners. Otherwise the mentioned document was not considered in the country report, despite of the strong international lobby made by the Bolyai Initiative Committee. This included a visit — together with the Hungarian National Council of Transylvania — to the European Parliament in October 2005 where mainly in the front of the Parliament members of Hungary, they complained about the situation of the church properties restitution and about the Hungarian language higher education in Romania. A letter addressed in February 2006 to the Romanian president and prime minister, and to Jose Manuel Barrosso, the president of the European Commission, claiming the establishment of an independent Hungarian university, signed by 80 renowned scientists (among them winners of the Nobel prize). A letter sent to the United Nations in May 2006 focusing on the same demand. Meanwhile they were also strongly publicizing the letters of support received from several Hungarian organizations and political parties. What they really achieved at the local level with these activities was nothing else but the creation of a very tensional atmosphere at the university, a war of declarations and reciprocal denigrations, and circumstances within which the university leadership was avoiding to continue the discussions on the development of the existing multicultural structure. However, in its last declarations sustained the need "to consolidate the university's multicultural organization … and its orientation towards an interculturalism demanded by Europe". Contrary to this, the Bolyai Initiative Committee continues to define "multiculturalism as a Romanian dominance over the Hungarians that makes a few concessions but does not allow a control on decisions and financial administration".

One may conclude that even the 21st century's debates on Babes-Bolyai University are reproducing the traditional pattern of ethnic positionings in the Romanian-Hungarian relationship. But he/she should also observe some signs of changes, which are witnessing the fact that in the context of their everyday life many people resist to be politicized by the means of an ethnic identity politics that separate them across and within the ethnically defined groups, and are trying to invent alternative forms of solidarity. This proves again that old paradigms are not simply reproduced in the present, but are changed by people who live their lives under different circumstances than their predecessors, and accommodation and opposition to dominant discourses are intertwined. The case discussed here shows how people interpret ideas and practices (example multiculturalism) imported from other context through the lenses of local meanings, that are shaped by historically transmitted understandings, but also by their present conditions. In this way, as the main message of the "Europe or the Globe" seminar stresses, hybrid senses and practices are permanently constituted at the crossroads of the local and the global.

[1] Paper given at the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menchen, "Europe or the Globe" seminar, 14th of June 2006.

[2] Clifford Geertz: The Interpretation of Cultures, Basic Books, 1973.

[3] Pierre Bourdieu: Language and Symbolic Power, Polity Press, 1991.

[4] Michel Foucault: The Order of Discourse, in Untying the Text: a Post-Structuralist Reader, edited by R. Young, Routledge, 1981.

[5] Charles Taylor: The Politics of Recognition, in Multiculturalism: A Critical Reader, edited by D. T. Goldberg, Basil Blackwell, 1994.