4515 Willard Ave. #2210
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
eniko.basa at verizon dot net
Thu, 26 Oct 2017 05:08:32 EDT by webmaster, 3759 views
New York University
History/Political Science paper by Gombos, Taylor (all papers)
Contested Subjects Across Cold War Frontiers: Hungarian Refugees from 56'
Although the Cold War has often been depicted in terms of bipolarity, and disconnection, more recent scholarship has sought to underline the various ways the Iron Curtain was in fact a porous boundary. Thus, I have set out to demonstrate in this paper the ways the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 functioned not only as a moment of political upheaval within Hungary itself, but also as a moment of contact between West and East. Mainly, I argue that Hungarian political refugees became contested subjects in the wider Cold War. For propagandists on both sides of the Iron Curtain they often functioned as props in broader ideological contests. Their intermediary and profoundly liminal status made them valuable commodities in the Cold War contest, but also rendered them potentially subversive and destabilizing. As such, they played central roles in challenging Cold War imaginaries, but they were also employed to re-inscribe psychologically satisfying narratives which had been temporarily disrupted by the Revolution. Thus, confronted with the destabilizing trans-border experience of the political refugee, Western and Hungarian ideologues sought to re-inscribe onto these contested bodies pre-conceived notions of the Cold War “other.” Instead of amending their existing imaginaries to agree with reality, they sought to resuscitate older Cold War fantasy. Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s pithy maxim bears mentioning here: “When reality does not coincide with deeply held beliefs, human beings tend to phrase interpretations that force reality within the scope of these beliefs. They devise formulas to repress the unthinkable and to bring it back within the realm of accepted discourse.” Using primarily newspaper articles from the time, but also cinematic and satirical sources I answer two interrelated questions in this paper: 1) how Hungarian political refugees challenged imaginary conceptions of the Cold War “other” by the mere fact of their origins, and 2) how governments on either side of the Iron Curtain sought to reassert ideological control over the destabilizing issues raised be refugees?
Brief Professional Bio:
Taylor Gombos is currently a Ph.D. student in History at New York University, working with Larry Wolff. He studys Modern Central and Eastern European history as well as the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its successor states, with a special interest in Hungary. Thematically, he is interested in Cold War imaginaries, and the history of science and technology. Before coming to NYU, Gombos completed an MA in “Central European History” at Central European University in Budapest and spent another year teaching in Hungary. Prior to his MA at CEU he completed an interdisciplinary MA in the “Social Sciences” at the University of Chicago. email@example.com