Contested histories: the meaning of the national past in today’s Poland and Hungary
In cooperation with the Faculty of Humanities
A national past is not just a history of facts, it is also a story being told from one generation to another, allowing for all kinds of different interpretations. But can a national history also be re-told for political purposes? With Ewa Stańczyk, Anna Menyhért, and Pieter van Os.
It is no secret that Hungary and Poland are facing turbulent political times. On the one hand, Poland is currently governed by the nationalistic ‘Law and Justice’ party (PiS), who won the elections with an absolute majority in 2015. After warnings from EU Commissioner Timmermans, the independence of the judiciary from the government seems still to be endangered.
Hungary on the other hand, has been in the news for wanting to shut down the Central European University in Budapest, one of the projects of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. Also here, the European Commission has taken legal steps to retract the law.
In the midst of all this news, this programme will not look at these current events, but, instead, look back at the history of Poland and Hungary to explore what meaning the national past still plays to this day. Three experts will take a monument as a starting point to explore how Poland and Hungary are dealing with their respective histories.
About the speakers
Ewa Stańczyk is a lecturer in European Studies. She teaches modules in Eastern European history, history of ideas and cultural studies. She holds a PhD in Polish Studies from the University of Manchester (2010). She is currently completing a book on the commemoration of Polish-Jewish children in Poland.
Anna Menyhért is an academic and writer, currently a Research Fellow at the School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture/Slavonic Studies Department. For the last five years she worked at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary, at the Institute of Cultural Studies and Hungarian Literature as the Principal Investigator of the Trauma and Gender in Literature and Culture Research Group.
Pieter van Os is a journalist, currently based in Warsaw. He writes for the Dutch weekly De Groene Amsterdammer and the daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad. In the past he was a political correspondent and an arts editor. Nowadays, he finds his subjects where arts and politics intersect.
Krisztina Lajosi (moderator) is Assistant Professor in Modern European Literature and Culture at the Department of European Studies of the Universiteit van Amsterdam. Her main research area focuses on the intersections of nationalism studies and cultural history, with particular attention to the history of musical culture and literature.
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