Selling Death, Remembering Life: Two Social Memory Sites in Budapest, Hungary
Department of Sociology University of Oxford Oxford, United Kingdom
Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology Central European University Budapest, Hungary
Our paper focuses on the relations between politics of memory, the identity of a community and the social construction of places. Using both ethnographic and historical material we explore two social memory sites in Budapest following the processes of their construction as places and as sites of enactment for differently-oriented politics of memory during the socialist and the postsocialist periods: the ?Stolpersteine? project on Raday Utca, and the ensemble of commemorative monuments built around the Dohany Utca Synagogue. Following Pierre Nora?s distinction between ?lieux de memoire? and ?milieux de memoire?, we argue that the memory site in Dohany utca functions more as a lieu de memoire while the stones on Raday utca are closer to a milieu de memoire. We trace the implications of this distinction for different types of remembering enacted in Budapest through monuments produced at various historical times. The research is fundamented on two key assumptions. First, there is a fundamental link between the identity of a community and the historical events it chooses to remember in particular moments. The identity of the community is usually built around such events; therefore, insights regarding the commemorations are also insights about the way this identity is being constructed. Second, the memory of these events is not only preserved but also continuously constructed in social memory sites as the ones we observed in Budapest. Thus, our paper is meant to be a contribution to social memory studies as well as to the sociology of space literature.