Key activities of the Institute

The key activities of the Institute as approved by the Secretary General of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1992 (F-739) are as follows:basic thematic research for the analysis of historical and current conditions in the field of Hungarian material culture, folklore, and social structure, including ethnic minorities in Hungary and the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe; ethnological research for the study of the cultures of Southeast Asia, Oceania, and Africa; collecting and documenting relevant materials; publishing research findings, partly through its own publishing activities; involvement in university teaching and postgraduate training; establishing and maintaining scientific relations with related domestic and foreign institutions. Since its inception, the Institute has fostered close links with the ethnography departments of all Hungarian universities, regulated by periodically renewed cooperation agreements. Teaching cultural anthropology emerged as a task in the early nineties in newly established places of higher education.

The institute’s past major projects had been implemented with the involvement and editorial and authorial cooperation of the profession’s best. The first of these projects was the five-volume Magyar Néprajzi Lexikon/Lexicon of Hungarian Folk Culture (1977-1982). The other major completed compendium was the Magyar Néprajzi Atlasz/Atlas of Hungarian Folk Culture (1987-1992), with a total of 634 maps in nine volumes. In 1966, plans for a handbook called Magyar Néprajz/Hungarian Folklore came up, and until 2001, the following volumes had been published in the series: Folk Poetry (1988), Folk Music, Folk Dance, Folk Play (1990), Folk Customs, Folk Belief, Folk Religiosity (1990), Handicrafts (1991), Lifestyle (1997), Society (2000), and Farming (2001). For two decades, the institute edited the Bibliography of Hungarian Ethnography. Work on some of the great genre catalogues of folklore is nearing completion; the most complete is the Magyar népmesekatalógus/Catalogue of Hungarian Folktales, published in 11 volumes between 1984 and 1992 (the manuscript archive was digitized into a 21,000-item database).

The Institute’s publications and conferences contributed to the theoretical and methodological orientation of Hungarian researchers, as well as to the formulation of new research goals, topics, and organizing principles. It has provided excellent international representation of the profession and continues to play a significant role in it. Among the co-organizers of its conferences are partner institutions, such as the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Hungarian Ethnographic Society, occasionally national and rural museums, as well as societies that provide an international context in various disciplines. From the outset, it has played a significant role in raising public awareness about the results of ethnography, such as through the Hungarian Radio's series called Kis magyar néprajz/Little Hungarian Folklore with more than a thousand broadcasts, as well as many other radio and television showsOrganizational structureThe Institute’s experts in European ethnology, folkloristics, and cultural and social anthropology have always worked within a common organizational framework. The organizational structure has been adapted to the prevailing basic tasks; our current departments include:

  • Department of Ethnology

  • Department of Folklore

  • Department of Social Ethnography

  • Department of Historical Ethnography

  • Repository and Library (with nearly 69,000 holdings, one of the largest collections in the field).
    As a public collection, the Repository and Library serve the entire profession.

    Data assets
    The data assets of the Institute are, on the one hand, the materials stored in the Repository, and, on the other hand, the data sets of server farms produced by various projects (e.g., the computer databases of folklore genre catalogues).

    Repository materials:
    Photo collection: the majority of the more than 53,000 photos and about 11,000 slides come from the Hungarian-speaking area, but there is also a significant number of recordings from fieldwork conducted in Vietnam, Africa, and Siberia.
    Video library: films and videos based on scripts by or with the assistance of researchers of the Institute.
    Sound archive: mostly Hungarian apocryphal texts, South Slavic and Obi-Ugric collections.
    Special archives: the archived booklets of the questionnaires of the Atlas of Hungarian Folk Culture, Archive of Shamanism, Catalogue of Hungarian Folk Legends, Registry of Folk Poetry, Topography of Folk Belief, Archive of Folk Medicine, Archive of Viniculture, and Archive of Proverbia are of particular significance.
    Manuscript archive: in addition to the collections and legacies of scholars of the Institute and the profession, new manuscripts, archival materials, and texts have been added year after year since the Institute’s foundation.