Intersections of Memory and History in Rural Hungarian Women’s Life Narratives: Three Case Studies
Keywords:rural women, oral history, gendered memory, trauma, nostalgia, twentieth century in East-Central Europe
The article contextualizes the oral life stories of three Hungarian-speaking women and their connections to the national histories of East-Central Europe. Through these three life narratives, I argue that in reconstructing their own life stories, the women articulate historical change. The women – born in the 1920s in the aftermath of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and coming of age in a socialist Eastern bloc as citizens of different nation-states – make up a generation as well as a mnemonic community with divergent versions of their community’s past. They talk about childhood in the interwar era, their maturation during the Second World War, their married life and work during the early years of socialism and their retirement years after 1989. In so doing, they give shape to starkly different family histories and personal experiences which inform not only their political sensibilities, but also their sense of womanhood, ethnicity, social standing and assessments of the past. While placing themselves into a sequence of events, they maintain their sense of integrity and construct political subjectivities. Their stories are imprints of a deeply divided collective memory of a generation bearing all the complexities that make women’s history different from the mainstream historiographical canon.
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