The article compares several ethnic caricatures published in the satirical press from period between second half of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries. It suggests how to study the caricature of the 'Other' in social context. The basic premise is that images of the 'Other' reflect the dynamic of social division. So the task for researcher is to grasp categories, which emerge and strengthen the sense of belonging, and thus to grasp specific lines of social division. The author focuses on ethnic images only and proposes three research perspectives. First, attempt to decode the viewpoint of the caricaturist (e.g. Poles in the eyes of Hungarians). Second, to compare the mutual images made by the neighboring nations (e.g. Poles and Lithuanians in caricatures). Third, to compare particular themes, objects and elements corresponding in several cultures (e.g. Gypsies or assimilation in caricatures of Central and Eastern European countries). Each figure drawn by caricaturist is equipped with distinctive signs and particular posture, frozen in motion, thus representing their popular roles in ethnic interactions. Comparing ethnic caricatures it might be said that attention of their authors focused on political situation in Europe and lifestyles (on maps), as well as ethnic relations, border disputes and social phenomena (e.g. assimilation). Figures presented in the article are used to build the unity of the state, but also disclose the areas of social tensions. Myth of modernity is present in caricatures depicting the local peculiarities of modernization, but in ethnic questions caricatures from the most of official press guard tradition and unity. In the liberal Borsszem Janko journal the images of magyarization (assimilation to Hungarian culture) reveal the dark side of assimilation of minorities in Hungary in the end of 19th century - their protests and discontent. Comparison of ethnic caricatures from distinct countries, brings to the conviction that worldview depends on position occupied by artists in the society, and on individual viewpoints rooted in personal experiences.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.