The Carpathian Basin as a ‘Hungarian neighbourhood’: imaginative geographies of regional cooperation and national exceptionalism

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Scott, James W.
Hajdú, Zoltán
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This paper explores how the geographical idea of the Carpathian Basin has been employed in post-1989 Hungarian conceptualizations of regional development across state borders. This involves understanding the tensions that have emerged between different and partly competing notions of the Carpathian Basin as a cooperation space that reflects “Europeanization” and as a geographical context that is central to Hungary’s sense of place (neighborhood) in Europe. These tensions are reflected in concerns expressed by neighboring states that regional cooperation in fact promotes Hungary’s ethnopolitical agendas. Our approach is based on the assumption that links between geography, geographical imaginaries and questions of national identity remain highly salient. We thus take inspiration from traditions of geographical research that emphasize the subjective nature of space–society relations and their representation in geographical imaginaries. The sources used reflect scholarly and political narratives, primarily geographic and regional research, and politically narrated geographical imaginaries. As part of this undertaking, we will highlight change and continuity in the use of the Carpathian Basin idea from the 1920s to the present. More specifically, we will consider the consequences of Hungary-centric neighborhood imaginaries for territorial cooperation as well as the difficulties involved in the institutionalization of the Carpathian Basin as a project region.
Kárpát-medence , mentális földrajz
Eurasian Geography 63:(6) pp. 753-778. (2022)