Nădlac, Speenhamland: Modalities of Closure in a Small Diaspora
Drawing on ethnographic evidence from the town of Nădlac, home of the largest Slovak community in Romania and the biggest road border-crossing between Hungary and Romania, the paper debates the impact of the newly built A1 highway upon the local community of nădlăcani. It argues that the historical attachment of this peasant community to its land, the post-1989 crossborder trafficking, a lack of local work opportunities and the recent construction of the highway, have produced a social and economic situation akin to some of the nineteenth century post- Speenhamland cases analyzed by Karl Polanyi. In line with Polanyi’s arguments, I show the modalities of closure that have entrapped the community and the vocal local reactions to this process. Overall, the paper exposes the intricate social, political and economic relations between local Slovaks, the Romanian state and the EU, on which the development of the community of Nădlac largely depends.