Epilogue: National Consciousness

The imagined and socially constructed role of women in the Budapest urban cemetery   normalizes even the most modern mindset to a traditional role.  But why is it that role, the respectful mother, the loving daughter, the be-grieved wife, which the cemetery seems to evoke.  What does the cemetery have that deserves such respect and worship? Is it religious based, a kind of fear, or family based respect, and/or something more, something that ensues from within ourselves, something that we relate to? Is respect for the cemetery a respect for ourselves, or rather what we see as a representation of our past? We all know that nationalism has had some dire consequences in every society’s history. Can we not escape those pasts; does it haunt us throughout our education, our relationships with our family, with our religion, and with ourselves? Is it not something we are taught to cherish, respect and worship without questioning – unless we want to be reprimanded, charged with betrayal - in our schools, institutions and homes?  Is National loyalty much like religious loyalty based on unquestionable faith?  How does the message materialize?

The overlap of religion and national loyalty is now inseparable in the cemetery space. A space which once was used to bury the body and create closure for the living has become the place to remember the misfortunes of history, celebrate the hierarchical past, and create a canon of the dead. Is this all part of nationalism? Is this solely to never forget or to always remember? This question can easily be one we might ask the national museums as well.  Because to never forget means that somehow it is something worth remembering and emulating, but to always remember means that it should never leave you, because somehow what happened in your national past is a part of you as well, which signifies that if you no longer remember, you are no longer yourself either.

We must consider when evaluating the Hungarian example that it is a country, and a nation which rarely lets in others.  There are several historical reasons for this, one is the idea that in hard times under foreign rule, a society mistrusts others and remains with their own kind. We know from many examples of Hungarian past and more so in the retelling of those pasts how important a mindset those histories still are.  Secondly, the language – not only in the fight to retain it, but also in its difficulty for others to learn it – has allowed Hungarians to be largely seen as the “other” among the European languages.  Hungarians pride themselves in being different, in standing out, in being worthy of study and in being a constant mystery. 


Make a Free Website with Yola.