Accepted Paper:

Nomadism and nostalgia: new tribalism and the memory industry in Hungary  
László Kürti (University of Miskolc)

Paper short abstract:

I analyze reconceptualization of history and nostalgia about aspects of the past and memory as the two most important driving-forces of current heritage industry in Hungary.

Paper long abstract:

In the past two decades, a growing body of work in anthropology, sociology and history has revealed the ways in which tradition and heritage are imagined and invented. During socialism, history was one of the most pressing issues for the leaders to whom the future (i.e. communism) was certain, the past unknown and distressing. Therefore, inter-war historiography was eradicated and a new one fabricated. Revisionism, however, has not disappeared and a new history is being written once more. It concerns an essentialist image of medieval nomadic tribalism which has more to do with ideology and imagination than with reality. This process is fraught with contradictions as there are multiple nostalgic attachments unsettling this unilinear and hegemonic national history. In order to market authentic forms and contents, hybrid and heterotropic avenues and strategies have been established. In particular, a reinvigorated sense of memory about medieval Turkic and Iranian semi-nomadic tribes (Cuman, Jazyg) has added to this history a fascinating new dimension that remains to be disentangled. In this presentation, I will analyze not only the historiographic dimension of this nomadism but those pertinent cultural institutions, elected offices and pageantry that have been invented to make this new memory industry work. Finally, I intend to explore various engagements of this new tribalism, and analyze how it intersects with many unsolved postures towards identity, heritage, and cultural agency both in the local context and transnationally.

Panel P023
Contested histories on the move: rethinking memory through mobility and agency