Ethnology Programme

Our Doctoral School has been continually operating since the introduction of the new doctoral education system in 1993. Its initiators and heads were nationally recognized, excellent professors of the Institute of History and the Department of Ethnography. (István Rácz, Zsuzsa L. Nagy, Péter Gunst, János Barta, Imre Papp).

The Doctoral School of History and Ethnography of the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Debrecen intends to offer the opportunity to obtain a doctoral degree (PhD) in two closely related disciplines of the humanities.The Doctoral Program of History and the parallel Doctoral Program of Ethnography has, from the outset, sought to cover a broader and broader field of history and ethnography to provide opportunity for the candidates to expand their research, receive professional support for the writing of their dissertation and finally to defend it within dignifying intellectual and technical circumstances.

Education of researchers of ethnography and cultural anthropology have been taking place at the Department of Ethnography of the University of Debrecen for seven decades. Accordingly, doctoral education had always been in close adherence to the work of the department. Thus, naturally, researchers who graduated here - and ethnographers graduated elsewhere - will eventually apply for a doctorate.This is the reason why the number of those who acquire a doctoral degree in our department is relatively higher comparedto other, predominantly teacher training programs, despite the relatively smaller student numbers. Thus, doctoral education at our department is based on several decades of experience in research, and science organization. Hungarian and foreign experts of ethnography have been acquiring doctoral degrees at our department for decades.On the average of the last two decades, 2-3 doctoral defences and 1-2 habilitation procedures were performed annually.

Middle-eastern and south-eastern European ethnographic research, which focuses on the Carpathian Basin have determined the scientific research direction of the department since 1949 in our doctoral program. We can safely say that our institute has been extensively researching this topicfor the longest period.The result is the more than 350 volumes published by our department in the past, not to mention the thousands of articles that our department staff, graduates, and doctoral students have published within the country and abroad.


a) Nations, regions and cultures in Central Europe subprogram

In our 'Nations, regions and cultures in Central Europe'doctoral subprogram, we wished to join the above traditions by raising our previous research tobecome an educational and training program.The doctoral education has so far provided an excellent opportunity to – beyond the requirements of university education – furtherdeepen the knowledge regarding the culture of Hungarians and the surrounding nations of those, who wished to acquire a doctoral degree at our department, and to ensure that doctoral students are aware of the ethnic, religious and cultural roots of the region's problems. In addition, the already published dissertations have, on a scientific level, contributed to a fuller exploration of these cultural roots. Lecturers of the offered subjects are holding their classes primarily on the age-old relationships, nodal points, common cultural goods and ethnic specificities of the nations and cultures of the area in all branches of folk culture. The result of the diversity is that there is considerable interest in our doctoral school.

The aim of our program so far has been to provide a broad and in-depth knowledge of the ethnic, ethnocultural relations, and religious diversity of the Carpathian Basin and the surrounding region.Nowadays, theevents taking place in the region with such historical, economic, mobilization and technical background – the evolution and relationship of global and local culturalpatterns – make the issue particularly relevant. Naturally, Hungarians are also included within these nations. However, Hungarian culture receives relatively less attention in the educational part of the program, and it is instead included within the optional subjects and the topic selection of the dissertations.The reason for this is that Hungarian folk culture is adequately emphasized in our basic university education.As a focus area of our trainings, we place special emphasis on the study of changing identity patterns as well asthe geographic, historical regions, ethnicities, ethnic and landscape groups and communities and their relation to the cultural, social and natural environment.

The theoretical training framework of our doctoral program is complemented by a practice-oriented learning framework that focuses on empirical experience acquisition.Besides the theoretical training, the programalso involves fieldwork,led by the supervisor or another instructor,at a location chosen by the doctoral student and the supervisor. In addition, we endeavour to make it possible for our students to obtain scholarships and to study abroad.In our experience, scholarships in many cases help students to deepen their knowledge on ethnographic fieldwork methodology, to compare international results and in their on-site fieldworks abroad, which is necessary for the dissertation. During the training period,our program also assists doctoral students in their publishing activity that is required for the acquisition of the degree. Our institute provides opportunities for the students to publish in Hungarian as well as in foreign languages.


Topics of the Nations, Regions and Cultures in Central Europe Subprogram

  1. The beginnings of Hungarian-Slavic relations in the Carpathian Basin, cultural assets and vocabulary, historical issues of interethnic relations and the formation of the Slovak nation, Hungarian elements in the Slovak material culture – farming, diet, etc. – interethnic relations in folklore, historical issues of delivery and acceptance.
  2. Trade as a primary form of international relations, migration and the exchange of assets, costermongers, trade routes and cultural ties. Greek and Bosnian merchants, Bulgarian landscapers, Slovakian potters, wiremakers (drótosok), glassmakers, chandlers. The folklore of markets, the significance of commercial centers.
  3. Ethnography as the science of researching the past and the present. The final days of traditional rural culture, tradition and industrial society, the restructuring of traditions. The rebirth of traditional agricultural formsin Central Europe after the regime change, folklore and mass communication.
  4. The basic issues of morality in folklore, work ethics, ethnic specificities in relation to material goods. The economic and social picture of multinational settlements, crisis during cohabitation, ecclesiastical policy, the policy of nationalities and rural society, deviance as an ethnic specificity, occupational branches as ethnic specificities, the role of ethnic and religious factors in the divisions of society.
  5. The integrational power of ethnic differences and religions, ethnic religions – national religions. The borderland of the Western and Eastern Christianity. Ecclesiastic structure and local society. Ethnic and religious mixed marriages, the connections of ethnic and religious endogamy, religion and demography.
  6. The historical issues of ancestral occupations and the people of the Carpathian Basin, ethnicity and settlement ethnography (településnéprajz), traditional branches of economy in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, types of work equipment and their spread.
  7. Folk art and ethnicity, art branches andnational symbols, the wandering of motifs, centers of folk art, decorative art and “national” clothing. Folk art – folk crafts – tourism.
  8. The traditional forms of gastroculture in the Carpathian Basin, the meeting points of alimentary and ethnic regions, the temporal layers of traditional alimentation, foods and raw materials. Traditional foods as national symbols.
  9. Directions of European ethnography in the second half of the 20th century. Ethnography, European ethnology, cultural anthropology, cultural ecology, social anthropology. The 20th century examination of European nations. The ethnic and cultural roots of peoples, ethnic groups, nations, and nationalities.
  10. Form of relationships between traditional cultures. Delivery and acceptance, migration, diffusion, colonization, ethnic assimilation.
  11. The history of ethnicity. Historical issues. Ethnicity, state ethnicity, and nationalism. Ethnicity and geopolitics. The competition theory. Ethnic conflicts. Ethnicity in today’s ethnography and cultural anthropology. The opposition of essential and constructivist theories of ethnicity. The “measurability” of ethnicity.
  12. The terminological issues of ethnicity research, the concepts of ethnos, ethnicity, ethnic group, and landscape group. The issues of nations and national minorities. Cultural areas, the areal division of folk culture. Micro-regional, regional, cultural, and local identity. Hungarians in Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria. Hungarians beyond the Carpathian Basin.
  13. Nationalities in historical and today’s Hungary. The ethnographic characterization and the cultural groups of German, Slovakian, Romanian, Ruthenian, Serbian, Sloven, Gypsy, and Jewish nationalities, and national minorities. The ethnographic criteria and measures of ethnic minorities. Scattered nationalities in Hungary (Greek, Russian, Polish, Arab, Chinese). The ethnographic and anthropological aspects of immigration, migration, and refugee issue. Ethnography in the refugee camp.
  14. Since the 19th century, millions of Central Europeans have chosen a new home in several successive waves in the United States and South America.Emigration and the survival of Hungarian traditions. Assimilation and acculturation.
  15. The ethnographic analysis of the Balkan peoples.
  16. The Slavs. Cultural and ethnic groups play a key role in Slavic cultures. The issue of Slavic ethnogenesis.
  17. The examination of folk music and folk dance. The examination of folk dance movements and the structure of the tradition of peasant dance culture.


b) Cultural Ecology Subprogram

Besides the ethnic, religious, and social surroundings of the peoples of Eastern Central Europe, their culture was also strongly influenced by the natural environment. Within the field of cultural anthropology, in recent decades, cultural ecology has sought to explore the effects of the natural environment on literacy. According to previous practice, cultural ecology primarily examined the operation of tribal societies; however, the opportunity is given, and there is an increasing demand for such research on agrarian societies and industrial societies, not to mention the studyof cultural responses given to the challenges of climate change and the repositioning of lifestyle strategies. The subprogram aims to shed light on the processes of environmental change and the transformation of cultural patterns at the level of local research. The program designates the research sites according to the subject of the prospective dissertation.


Topics of the Cultural Ecology Subprogram

  1. History of the discipline, the introduction of anthropological schools. The connections between ecology and ethnography. The methods and possibilities of cultural ecologic examination of European peoples.
  2. Religion and the environment. The influence of environmental elements on “high religions” and the religious structure of tribal societies. Natural and artificial environment. The environmentshaping force of religion. The sacralization of space. Christianity and environment shaping. Sacral centers and landscape shaping. The interactions between environment and religion.
  3. The image of the surrounding nature, flora and fauna in rural society, the cultural history of natural vegetation cover and cultivated plants. Forms of environment exploitation in rural society.
  4. The recognition, possession and specialization of natural resources, local industries, and natural assets. Climatic, Phytogeographic, and zoogeographic relations and trading.
  5. Naturescaping from prehistory until today, the traditional methods of agriculture that damage the environment, deforestation, breaking up the fallow ground, forestry, pasturing, recent branches of economy that damage the environment. Ethnography and environmental protection. Traditional agriculture and environmental protection.
  6. Recyclable natural assets, eco-conscious lifestyle versus consumer society in everyday life. Traditional and modern use of equipment.
Last update: 2023. 09. 05. 15:37