The Politics of Remembering

Margit Feischmidt

The essays in this thematic section focus on theoretical questions regarding history, collective memory, and national symbols, providing Hungarian, Romanian, and Slovakian case studies.  The introductory essay by Jeffrey K. Olick and Joyce Robbins reviews defi­nitional disputes and different approaches to social memory in order to reconstruct a social scientific tradition.  Focussing on the example of the Right Hand relic of King Saint Stephan, founder of the Christian Hungarian state in the tenth century, Árpád von Klimo describes the historical processes of national symbol creation and ritual.  Klimo emphasizes the relic’s role in the political struggles between the Communist Party and the Catholic Church.  Enikő Magyari-Vincze discusses the history of Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj, Romania, and argues that present debates concerning its ethnic character embody the Hungarian and Romanian elites’ conflicting perceptions about the two ethnic groups’ relation in Transylvania.  She identifies three strategies of ethnic identity politics: conflictual seg­re­gation, consensual separatism, and institutional assimilation.  Margit Feischmidt and Rogers Brubaker analyze the recent trends in the politics of commemoration in Eastern Europe from historical and comparative perspectives.  The commemorative practices and discourses of 1848’s 150th anniversary in Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia differ both in manner and mood (from a mythic, sacral to a carnevalesque and reflexive one) and in content (from a particularizing to a universalizing discourse).

Released: Replika 37, 17–88.