Educationalists in 1950s, 1960s Hungary: Identity and Profession through Retrospective Life (Hi)Stories

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Národní pedagogické muzeum a knihovna J. A. Komenského
Technická univerzita v Liberci, Fakulta přírodovědně-humanitní a pedagogická
This paper is based on the lost and found sources from the former Hungarian National Pedagogic Institute (OPI) and the National Educational Institute (OKI): due to the generosity of Professor Gábor Halász we can save valuable archives from disappearance. I found several life-story interviews in the corpus by different Hungarian educationalists, which were recorded in 1984 and 1985. These documents gives a unique opportunity to describe typical career patterns, how a teacher could become a head of a department in the Ministry or held other key positions on the highest level of educational administration in the post-war, communist Hungary. The semi-structured interviews focused on personal transitions and turns, connected with the historical time and political changes, including different socio-historical contexts and dimensions, like the recalled decades of 1950s and 1960, the interviewing period of the late socialism, and finally, the retrospection of the questioners. The biographic nature of the communist political system is a specific characteristics in my analysis: to get a position (like an editor in chief, a school inspector of different districts in Budapest, or a head of a department in the Cultural Ministry) it was required to constantly write and rewrite autobiographies; construct social and professional identities again and again, proved loyalty to the Party. The contemporary reader from 2023 can evaluate the sources as narrations: in the beginning crisis of the system in the 1980’s, the interviewees told their lives with the intention to form the memory, create legitimation and meanings for their past activities and life-stories.
interview, life histories, narrative analysis, socialist pedagogy, educationalists