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Mon, 15 Feb 2010 13:11:51 EST by admin, 108101 views
University of Pécs
Cultural Studies paper by Fodor, Mónika (all papers)
“Hungary 101”—Meanings and Uses of History in Narrative Ethno-Cultural Identity Construction among Hungarian-Americans
In this paper I discuss approaches to personal narratives elicited in 28 qualitative interviews with ten second- and third-generation Hungarian-Americans regarding the meanings of history in their ethnicity. The stories that interviewees told about Hungarian and in some cases world history illustrate how the historical elements and icons of the individual’s culture create a unique ethno-cultural identity and community. Besides personal history most immigrants cherish, tell and attempt to hand down the wider historical circumstances and events that influenced them in their decision to relocate. Narratives shift the focus of history from texts to interpreters and historical culture thus becomes a story created by participants rather than something read or viewed by them. Stories about historical events create and maintain communities as well as ethno-cultural identities in specific ways that allow several interpretations and recontextualizations.
In the interviews, two major events of twentieth-century-history occurred in a most articulated form. World War II and the 1956 Revolution in Hungary seem to be the historical story frame for interviewees to explain their ethnic affiliations. The paper explores the narratives about these two major historical events to unfold the double narrative structure that support ethno-cultural identity construction.
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