The article explores the personal narratives of middle-aged and elderly Hungarian lesbian women based on oral history interviews. The stories open a window into the Kádár era from a special perspective, allowing us to get a glimpse into the women's self-recognition and coming out process; their different (sexual, professional or maternal) identities, relationships, informal social scenes, and communities; their thinking about gender roles, as well as the available representations of lesbians over the decades. The women also discuss the freedom and greater visibility—as complex as it was—that came after the democratic transition. The article contributes more detailed knowledge about the situation of LGBT people in the region during the state socialist period and around the 1989 regime change.
Hungarian Lesbian Herstory, 1950s–2000s
Allison D. Krogstad
Rumam Chamalkan (Nietos de los Kaqchikeles, Grandchildren of the Kaqchikel) is a folkloric dance-drama group from San Jorge La Laguna, Guatemala. Like other Maya initiatives that have come out of the postwar years in Guatemala, this group strives to preserve and maintain the traditions, memory, and identity of the Maya by retelling the stories of their elders and bringing their heritage to new generations and to the world. They endeavor to unite their people around common images and symbols, binding them together, and strengthening their social connectivity. Efforts of the Maya in regard to artistic, literary, and other creative expressions of heritage as well as forays into the political, economic, cultural, linguistic, and environmental systems of the country and world have begun, collectively and cohesively, to make a dent in the wall of inequality, repression, and discrimination that the world has built around the Maya.
The Example of a Gypsy/Roma Group in Modern Iran
Elena Marushiakova and Vesselin Popov
This article presents the community of the Romanies/Gypsies called the Zargar, who live in contemporary Iran. For centuries the Zargar had not been aware of the existence of other Gypsies. Only nowadays, with the means of modern telecommunications, including the Internet, have representatives of the Zargar 'discovered' that there are other Roma in the world, and they have begun looking for their place within the international Romani community. Lacking a clear memory of their own past, the Zargar are trying to construct such a history and an extended identity, while establishing contact with their 'kin' in Europe.
Tundra Nenets' Reminiscences of the 1943 Mandalada Rebellions
Each political change in the former USSR and Russian Federation has had different influences on the lives of local populations in different areas. Nenets, like many other indigenous people of the Russian North, were not tied to any political situation. The perception was that they always lived independently in the tundra using their traditional and historical knowledge. In reality, when comparing even the most recent past of the Nenets to the present, many differences and contradictions become apparent in the lives of these northern people. This article discusses the role of censorship in the transformation and performance of historical narratives concerning the development of the relationship between the state and the indigenous tundra people, here Nenets. By distorting historical facts, through exaggeration and mythologizing real-life events, people tried to shield themselves against negative emotions and memories of the past.
From Biography to History
of Stalinism and state socialism by emphasizing the agency of local actors. 8 In the new economic, political, and ideological context after 1989, the proliferation of oral history research in Eastern Europe made visible various points of view of
Ethnographical Work as a Reciprocal Activity
The history of Lypyrtti, an old pilot village in the southwestern coast of Finland, is for many villagers a story of depopulation of a vital community during the last fifty years. In 2005 the villagers of Lypyrtti expressed their interest in collecting the oral history of their village. This material is gathered, edited and released in the context of research on the topic of 'narrated environment', which draws attention to the interdisciplinary methods and theories of the practices of place making
Shahnoza O. Madaeva
This article examines the impact of social and political factors on the spiritual transformation of society. Analysing sources and field research, the study aims to present an objective picture of the spiritual and mental transformation of the Uzbek people based on the oral history method of the 1920-1930s. Using the integration method, the author seeks to explain historic facts through the prism of philosophical reflection. At the same time, the research provides an overview on the processes of self-identification and integration, as well as on the development of state policies, in post-Soviet countries.
Transformation from Village to Suburban Town
Mary Elaine Hegland
Anthropological participant observation, in-depth, open-ended interviewing and oral history reveal aspects of social change and modernisation that have taken place in Aliabad, Iran, over more than half a century. These developments have transpired in interplay with economic, political and cultural processes. As a result of economic transformation from sharecropping and trading to urban-style jobs, and due to outside influences as a consequence of advances in transportation, communication, education and travel, villagers have been able to make other choices. Through bottom-up social and political change, relationships in all areas of life have become less authoritarian and hierarchical and more egalitarian and subject to negotiation and individuation.
A Case Study on Romania's Ways of Remembering its Pronatalist Past
Taking the memory of pronatalism in contemporary Romania as a case study, this article is an attempt to view the national politics of memory of contemporary Europe with regard to its communist past from an anthropological perspective. From 1966 to 1989, the communist regime imposed extreme policies of controlled demography in Romania, as it was imputed, for 'the good of the socialist nation'. Profamily measures were developed in parallel to the banning of abortion on request and the making of contraception almost inaccessible. The social remembering of such a difficult past is still a taboo in contemporary Romanian society. This general lack of public remembering, which is still playing a role in the current situation of Romania's reproductive health, is influenced by the interrelations between the different forms of pronatalist memory. The analysis is based on oral history fieldwork conducted between 2003 and 2008, and is theoretically informed by the interdisciplinary field of Memory Studies.
In the years after the fall of communist governments in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe (CESEE), a flood of memoir literature began to fill bookstores around the region. Some of these books were newly written, others had been composed long ago but could not be published during the socialist period. Alongside this rush of published work, historians and anthropologists began numerous oral history projects devoted to recording ordinary people’s experiences of state socialism. This need to narrate one’s own past and capture the memories of those who witnessed the tragedies of the twentieth century continues to the present day. The turn to autobiography and personal narrative inspired the theme section in this issue of Aspasia: women’s autobiographical writing and correspondence.