BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Commemoration and Amnesia: Performing State and Nationhood in Hungary and Kosovo

Fri8  Apr04:00pm(20 mins)
CWB Plenary


Marina Vulovic, Emilia Palonen


In Central and Eastern Europe, symbolic urban landscapes are sites of struggle, where those in power seek to manifest their visions. In these symbolic performances, past, present, and future entangle, and become concretized spatially. Through combining the work of Walter Benjamin and Ernesto Laclau, we conceive of urban landscapes as hegemonic articulations and particularly explore the performing of a political “us” in memorials, often casted as the nation but also symbolizing the state and the people as a counter hegemonic articulation. We explore two different sites, Hungary and Kosovo, in order to unveil mechanisms of the spatio-temporal and political interventions in materializing the state and its chosen historical underpinnings. In both cases, we witness similar performative mechanisms: memorialization, dealing with trauma, taking over symbolic landscapes, and the homogenization of space into a historical yet frozen vision by drawing political frontiers. The spatiality of these places is multi-layered and conflictual. Our rhetoric-performative analysis of the centers of power in the urban articulations, explores the main bridge and the memorial of Prince Lazar in North Mitrovica, Kosovo, as well as the surroundings of the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest where the interwar period is reinstalled. These exemplify processes of commemoration and amnesia in the intersection of statehood and nationhood cast in stone.