History of memory in the East: Hungary 1945-2004

History of memory, a young branch of memory studies has recently explored how the relation between past, society and politics has changed since the 1970s in the Western world. This transformation is usually explained by the history of holocaust-memory: by the process through which the memory of the Holocaust has gradually been detached from its original historical-geographical context and has acquired general cultural importance since the 1970s. As a consequence, the past (as mamory) has become a major question of power and politics, and a supra-state political space has developed that is characterised by new modes of social action and conflict (e.g. „clash of memories”, victimisation, politics of reparation).

The research aims at the historically grounded critique of this transnational (European) power field: it examines how the relation between past and politics changed on a historical example. Thus the object of the study is twofold. First, social historically, to explore the historical change of the construction of memory and politics in Hungary from the end of WW2 until the European accession (in 2004 Hungary has become a full member of the European political space). During this social historical process, soicety’s relation to the past transformed first by the establishment of state socialism and then by the integration into the European political space. Second, in a critical manner, with the study of the history of memory, the resarch aims to contribute to the critical sociological examination of the social conflicts defined by the prevailing discursive regime. In this regard it is particularly significant that the research focuses on the (post)socialist „East”.