Interrogating the Haunting Voices of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution

Document Type


Department (Manual Entry)

History Department; Political Science Department


The authors continue to test the limits of Emile Durkheim/Maurice Halbwachs approach to collective identity in the experiences of trauma, shame, and yearning related to the ill-fated Hungarian Revolution. In a more poststructuralist vein the authors move from a focus on piacular subjectivity to one of baroque subjectivity, especially in understanding the October 2006 fiftieth anniversary commemorations of the Revolution in Budapest. Specifically, what indexical undercurrents of disposition persist and can not be ignored in attempts at redemptive critique, as well as in colonized nostalgia and the re-enactment of pathos. To what extent do the commemorations of the 1956 Revolution reveal an incomplete text of haunting voices open to diverse re-assembling and contesting narratives? Beyond the mourning, Walter Benjamin asked, can we transcend the spectacle of shared suffering, shared melancholy and shared atonement in interrogating a text of presence and absence? Can we do so in a meaningful and knowing participation in the tragic, not as a closed drama based on myth, but as an incomplete and unfolding drama? Such a text can be interpellated through ongoing redemptive critique rather than imbedded in redemptive finality. This redemptive critique characterized by a collective conscience of how history might have been different.


Earlier iterations of this paper were presented at the European Consortium on Political Research [ECPR] Meeting at Corvinhus University in Budapest and at two Narrative Matters Conferences at Acadia University, Nova Scotia and the University of Toronto, respectively.