Accepted Paper:

Heritagisation, commemoration, amnesia: national pilgrimages to the "thousand-year-old" Hungarian border  


Zoltán Ilyés (Institute for Minority Studies)

Paper short abstract:

The process of heritagisation, commemorative activity, narratives of the past and selective memory of the pilgriming patriotic tourists taking place at a privileged point of the historical Hungarian border (Gyimesbükk/Ghimeş-Făget – Romania) in the past few years is presented in the paper.

Paper long abstract:

A wide process of heritagisation launched in 2008 in Gyimesbükk/Ghimeş-Făget, on the eastern edge of Szeklerland (Romania) inhabited mainly by Hungarian minority, connected to the historical Hungarian border in the initiative of local and external actors.

Since 2008 every year the pilgrim trains coming from Hungary arrive at the renovated building of the easternmost guard house of the "Royal Hungarian State Railways" on Pentecost Sunday. Thousands of Hungarians remember the former Great Hungary, mourn the fragmented country left after the Treaty of Trianon, yet the place is considered to be the symbol of national renewal, unity and solidarity.

Considering the motivations of the wide range of participants from Hungary and Transylvania it can be regarded as a secular pilgrimage, as the aim of the visitors is primarily to express national feelings, to demonstration solidarity with the Hungarian minority and ideological affinities.

The narratives anchored to the "thousand-year-old border" have intended to express and respect the formerly supressed historical facts and aim to raise awareness of and interiorize the experience of loss of Trianon, or claim symbolic re-territorialization. From the narratives of patriotic tourists an imaginary cartography unfolds ignoring ethnic and territorial/state legal realities and consciously resisting the history, presence and narratives other nations of proudly cited Transylvania. The pilgrimages to the "thousand-year-old border" may be considered as the institutionalization of amnesia, where historical Hungary, the Hungarian Gyimes is remembered exclusively, and the "Hungarian times" before 1918 and between 1940 and 1944 is (mis)represented in a one-sided, positive, nostalgic way.

Panel Heri014
Heritage of silenced memories