Domonkos Sik (ELTE Faculty of Social Sciences): Memory Transmission and Political Socialization – The Case of Contemporary Hungary

The presentation examines and critically evaluates the processes of institutional memory transmission and political formation in post-socialist Hungary (based on project MYPLACE – In the first part, a discourse analysis of the public debates about two distinctive ‘lieux de mémoires’ – the House of Terror and the Holocaust Memorial Center – is elaborated. The concept of ‘memory vacuum’ is introduced to express the lack of minimal consensus between political actors about distinctive 20th-century Hungarian political traumas: the Holocaust and state socialist terror. In the second part, focus groups conducted with high school visitors (n = 49) to these museums are analysed to explore the relationship between their interpretations of the past and evaluations of current political issues. An attempt is made to elaborate ideal typical patterns of collective memories and ensuing political cultures. Based on comparative EU survey data, it is concluded that the recent antidemocratic transformations in Hungarian political culture might be explained as a failure of both institutional and family transmission of collective memories to embed democratic principles.