“The Past Must Be Given a Place”: Migration, Intergenerational Transfer, and Cultural Memory Practices in Belgian Families of Hungarian Descent

Vera Hajtó
HUN-REN Research Centre for the Humanities 

Hungarian Historical Review Volume 12 Issue 4  (2023): 555-575 DOI 10.38145/2023.4.555

This article investigates the intergenerational effects of migration on the memories of Belgian families of Hungarian origin, focusing specifically on how these effects can prompt the second and third generations of migrant families to bring their private memories and identity constructions into the public sphere. Their social participation becomes a crucial element in their quest to uncover their families’ histories. While the memory of the migration experience was initially contained in the “archive” (the private sphere), it eventually transitions into the “canon” (the public sphere), becoming accessible to those outside the family circle. Using published biographies of second-generation members about their immigrant parents, photographic images, texts of a theatre play, group conversations on social media (Facebook), and interviews with members of the second and third generations, this article offers a varied source material to explore these questions. By pushing the boundaries of historical research and memory studies, it demonstrates that the memories of migration can have long-lasting effects that connect people and families with larger communities and the social sphere.

Keywords: migration, identity, memory, memory work, family, intergenerational relations, cultural memory, archive and canon, Hungarian child relief project, Belgium

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