Slavic Hungary, the Czechoslovak Language, and Accidental Nationalism
Tauris Academic Studies 2009
On 1 January 1993 Slovakia became an independent nation. According to conventional Slovak nationalist history that event was the culmination of a roughly thousand year struggle. Alexander Maxwell argues quite differently in his book Choosing Slovakia: Slavic Hungary, the Czechoslovak Language, and Accidental Nationalism (Tauris Academic Studies, 2009). Although focused primarily on the long nineteenth century and concluding with the interwar period, he shows just how much Slovak nationalism owes to unlikely contingencies, especially the dismantling of greater Hungary at the end of World War I. In so doing, he pays special attention to debates that shaped the standardization of Slovak, showing them to be far more complicated and more amorphous than has previously understood. Further, far from aspiring to independence, many of the steps that have since been portrayed as demonstrative of Slovak nationalist will in fact reflected Slovak intellectuals efforts to create a culturally pluralist Hungary. I enjoyed talking with Maxwell about his arguments and their significance recently, and invite you to listen in.