DIY Cassette Culture in State-Socialist Hungary
This paper discusses how certain features of a DIY media environment had facilitated the making of Hungarian new wave, punk, alternative and skin subcultures (mainly based on music) in the 1980s. How could be the music recorded, transformed and spread through the whole country and abroad, and how ‘alter’ music scenes could be organised without any television, radio, press or magazine coverage due to the neglect and prohibition of cultural and political governance? How does the tape cassette function as an actor in this network? What are the specialties of this environment? These issues are studied as part of a research trying to unfold the political, social and aesthetic aspects of the subculture based on the tape cassette on the basis of interviews with former band members and fans.
Médiakutató Autumn 2019 pp. 55-63
Censorship murders ideas
This paper analyses the sources, historical and biographical context and political significance of Freedom of the press: Views of a prisoner, an influential book in 1844 by Mihály Táncsics (1799–1884). Táncsics was a radical democratic, left-wing Hungarian writer, teacher, publisher and politician. He played an important role in the 1848 anti-Habsburg democratic revolution and as the publisher of the first peasant and worker newspapers in Hungary. The American constitutional and press system served as Táncsics’ main inspiration for the demand for unrestricted press freedom. His other sources included Enlightenment ideas (rationality, natural law and social contract theory), Hungarian progressive patriotic reformism of the early 19th century, and utopian socialism. Although Táncsics as a theorist of press freedom became rather influential, his plebeian press publishing efforts remained limited, due to low literacy rates among peasants and the slow post-feudal development of social structure in Hungary. In general, people’s Enlightenment or deep Enlightenment (as opposed to elite Enlightenment) could not take place in the country. This pattern has longue durée consequences for mediapolitics relations and the chances for democratisation in Hungary.
Médiakutató Summer 2021 pp. 91-104
The life and revolt of an agent at Lake Balaton: The Varga file
During the Kadar regime the lake of Balaton played key role in state-security observation. In the 1980s, in addition to monitoring people who came for vacation, the secret police invested more energy into observing members of the political opposition. The weekend houses at the lake served as spots of oppositional gatherings, and very often the producers of underground literature maintained printing-machines as well. To illustrate this, the files of a secret agent provide excellent sources. While analysing the documents, this paper asks the questions of why collaborating with the Office of States Security served the agent’s interests, whether he was efficient, and what the reactions were to his reports. It is also important to establish what extent the accounts carried the agent’s ideas and in what ways they were productions of the political regime.
Médiakutató Autumn 2020 pp. 71-84