COMMEMORATIVE CEREMONIES: HOW INSTITUTIONS INFLUENCE IDENTIFICATION?
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The article shows how local institutions use public events, esp. commemorative celebrations reproduce categories of identification. An ethnographic material coming from Nové Zámky - an ethnically mixed town situated in south-western Slovakia is presented here. According to the last census (2001) the town is inhabited by Slovak majority and Hungarian minority. Focusing on the activities of two cultural institutions, one representing Slovaks and the other one Hungarians, two commemorative celebrations organised by these institutions are described and examined. Study of commemorative events points to the importance of the reflection of past events for identification with ethnic groups. As Paul Connerton argues, for the existence of groups and their reproduction the concept of continuity is inevitable. According to him, the idea of continuity may be created and reproduced non-verbally, i.e. through commemorative celebrations. The examined case illustrates how continuity in Slovak and Hungarian history is established. Comparison with a third non-commemorative public event, organised by the municipality, allows to study ethnic identification in relation to local identification. In the case of Nové Zámky the institution of municipality reproduces ethnic categories as elements subordinated to the category of a town resident. Similarly as ethnic identification to ethnic (or national) histories, identification with the town is closely connected to a concept of the history of the town.
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