Are Finns and Hungarians Turks? The difference between Turanism and Pan-Turkism

Many confuse Pan-Turkism with Turanism, including sometimes the Hungarian Prime Minister Orban. However, one can forgive him for that. Many think that the Hungarians really consider themselves Turks in the literal linguistic sense. This is far from true.

Since the 19th century, the Hungarians adhered to the ideology of Turanism, not pan-Turkism. They called one of their tanks from the time of Horthy, the Hungarian regent, “Turan” not in honour of the “linguistic” Turks in the narrow sense or of their ancestral home. For the Hungarians, Turan was a broader concept.

Initially the notion of Turanism was much more popular than Pan-Turkism. In fact, at the end of the 19th century and in the Ottoman Empire, it was believed that the Finns and Ugric peoples, like the Manchus and the Mongols, were also close to the Turkic peoples of Turan. At the same time, nobody denied the fact that their languages were different. This position was actively supported by some European and even American researchers and ideologists.

The ideology of Turanism or Panturanism became the basis of not only the Hungarian, but also the Finnish national revival. And it even seems that the Finns were almost the first to formulate it.

In particular, Turanism has its roots in the Finnish nationalist movement known as Fennoman movement or Fennomania, as well as in the work of the 19th century Finnish nationalist and linguist Matthias Alexander Castrén.

He conducted over seven years of fieldwork in Western and Southern Siberia between 1841 and 1849. His extensive fieldwork focuses on the study of the Ob-Ugric, Samoyedic, Ketic (Yenisei) and Turkic languages. He collected valuable ethnographic information, especially on shamanism.

Based on these studies, he argued that the Finnish, Ugric, Samoyedic, Turkic, Mongolian and Tungusic languages belong to the same “Altaic” family (Ural-Altaic).

He came to the conclusion that the Finns originated from Central Asia (where he included the Altai Mountains), and were not at all a small isolated people, but part of a larger society that included such peoples as Magyars, Turks, Mongols, and others.

Based on his research, he defended the ideology of Turanism and Panturanism, with a faith in the ethnic unity and the future greatness of all the Ural-Altaic peoples.

From here, this concept of “Turanism” spread to peoples related to the Finns. As Castren said: “I am determined to show the Finnish people that we are not a lonely people from a swamp, living in isolation from the world and world history, but in fact we are related to at least one sixth of humanity. Writing grammars (of Ural-Altaic languages) is not my main goal, but without grammars this goal cannot be achieved.”

Pan-Turkism, on the other hand, relates to the unity of the Turkic peoples in a narrower sense, that is, those who speak directly Turkic languages and perceive themselves as Turks.

Kirill Semenov

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