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Wed, 20 Apr 2011 13:02:38 EDT by admin, 125523 views
University of Miskolc
Cultural Studies paper by Kürti, László (all papers)
“To Die in a Foreign Land”?: Notions of Death and Burial in the American-Hungarian Diaspora
The purpose of this presentation is to describe narratives surrounding death and burial by Hungarian immigrants living in the United States. Material was collected during the 1970s and 1980s through participant observation in the East Coast; in addition 150 extensive life-history interviews of Béla Máday collected during 1979-1981 and never been published before has also been utilized to gain a better understanding of the beliefs surrounding death and interment by American-Hungarians. Many commonalties were found across age, gender and class. One of the pervasive themes was a nostalgic belief about being buried in Hungary, or more specifically in the cemetery where the families’ resting place was. However, this also caused problems for many who already had family members buried in the US, in which case they were willing to consider either Hungary or the US as their final resting place. At times, interviewees had difficulty separating notions of nostalgia and reality (wish-fulfillment): they wished to be buried in their birthplace but knew well that it will not happen. Many were also completely unconcerned about the way in which they would be buried or the location of their interment. Finally, data proves that in some cases – even though it was specifically requested so – the last will/testament of the dying was not carried out.
Brief Professional Bio:
László Kürti is a professor of social anthropology currently teaching at the University of Miskolc, Hungary.