Abstract: This article argues that a new understanding of “Jewishness” is emerging in post-communist Hungary, most clearly and visibly in the realm of popular culture. Global images of “Jewishness” and their local interpretations, which have become part of public culture since the fall of communism and especially with wider access to the internet, have shaped both popular discussions of “Jewishness” and Hungarian Jewish self-representations. These, in turn, are challenging the traditional Hungarian understanding of the meaning and place of “Jewishness” in Hungarian public life. Following a brief historical outline to help situate the current debate, I analyze four interpretations of “Jewishness” in contemporary Hungarian popular culture: an animated film, a blog, and two restaurants. I argue that they break with long-standing Hungarian discursive and political traditions and suggest a new, more open take on “Jewishness” based on the notion of “ethnic culture.”
Jews in Museums: Narratives of Nation and 'Jewishness' in Post-Communist Hungarian and Polish Public Memory
Staging Traumatic Memory: Competing Narratives of State Violence in Post-Communist Hungarian Museums
Topics: Main Topic: Culture and Heritage, Jewish Museums, Memory, Holocaust Commemoration, Holocaust Education, Holocaust Memorials, Jewish - Non - Jewish Relations, Post-1989, Communism
Abstract: The article examines the way three contemporary Hungarian museums–the House of Terror Museum, the Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Memorial and Documentation Center–represent the history of the Holocaust and the history of Jewish/non-Jewish relations. Reflecting different political agendas, each of the three museums offers a different interpretation of how the Holocaust fits into the larger narrative of Hungary's 20th century history. The article argues that post-communist public memory has been constructed through debates about these histories. By analyzing the three museums' displays, narratives and the debates surrounding them, the article argues that Hungarian public discourse has yet to come to terms with the meaning and place of “Jewishness” (and the way it has informed “Hungarianness”) in modern Hungarian history. Despite the centrality of Jews and Jewish-non-Jewish relations to the museums' narratives, none are able to offer a clear definition of what “Jewishness” means and how it functioned at different times throughout the 20th century.