Protected Areas along the Slovenian-Hungarian border


The proposed project is designed as a collaborative, comparative cross‐border research project on the role of recently created protected areas – Goričko Nature Park and Őrség National Park ‐ on either side of the Slovenian‐Hungarian border. Both areas encompass regions that were purportedly “forgotten” by progress - on the margins - but are now considered idyllic landscapes with rich cultural history and high level of biodiversity, which have the potential to operate as centers for regional sustainable development. The bilateral team ethnographically explored the significance of the two parks built along a radically shifting border, one that, with the countries’ accession to the European Union (2004) and incorporation in the Schengen Area, has become more open than ever before.

The goal of the proposed project is to carry out a ethnographic study of the social life of the Goričko and Őrség parks as an integrated area positioned across the Slovenian and Hungarian border and of the ways in which the existing borders inform daily life. The study is to be carried out against the backdrop of the region’s specific economic, cultural, historical and political circumstances as well as its shifting boundaries. Completing the study will involve realizing the four main research objectives:

1. Carry out an ethnographically based historical analysis of the border area with attention to the role of the shifting border in defining the social and demographic landscape in terms of changing state systems, ethnic/minority communities, cross-border ties, migration practices, strategies of resource management, and livelihood strategies. This will include an outline of the history of parks as well as the similarities and differences in their formal status, their organization, their management of natural and cultural heritage, and their relationships to stakeholders living in or near the parks (including other developmental organizations).

2. Ethnographically analyze cultural and natural heritage regimes, practices, uses, and perceptions, including existing economic, social and symbolic practices and phenomena – both traditional (including agriculture, crafts) and contemporary (sustainable tourism, branding). This study will examine the role and impacts of newly mapped borders while taking into account the significant changes that have affected the border (transition process, EU integration, the Schengen zone).

3. Identify and map out existing sets of social actors in the border area defined by the two protected areas (social actors, institutions, organizations, enterprises). This includes as well an institutional analysis of the parks’ regimes of administration and of the common interests, values, and practices among actors – both at the national and cross-border level – that could potentially enhance interactions and collaborations. This will also include examining areas of communication (practices of conflicts and dialogue) among park actors (local, regional, national, cross-border, supranational) and identifying the similarities and differences between the situations on either side of the border.

4. Analyze center-periphery dynamics in the border area. This involves examining and assessing the effects of boundary movements and changes in border permeability on the positioning of the borderlands in relative terms - particularly in terms of center and periphery. We consider the production of peripherality and centrality to be mutually constitutive social processes involving local and extra-local social and institutional actors. Upon sketching out a rough historical overview of shifting borders and constructions of peripherality, the project focuses on the ways that changes in the post-Cold-War area, particularly European integration, has reconfigured relationships between centers and peripheries.


Scientific meeting of Slovenian and Hungarian group of researchers 18. -  20. September 2017: goricko_september_2017.docx (in Slovenian)


Project type
bilateral project

National Park Örszég
Nature Park Goričko
livelihood strategies
protected areas
sustainable development

Research areas
Cultural anthropology, ethnology S220
Development cooperation S195
Folklore H400