June 1-3, 2013
University of Victoria, Victoria, B.C.
The Hungarian Studies Association of Canada held its 28th annual conference at the University of Victoria, in Victoria B.C. from the 1st of June to the 3rd. As usual, the conference was under the aegis of Canada’s Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. It was another successful affair, with wide international participation.
A total of twenty papers were presented by scholars from half a dozen different countries. Especially encouraging was the presence of participants from countries of East Central Europe. Papers were presented by academics from Hungary, Romania (Transylvania), Slovakia and Slovenia. There were also a few American scholars present in addition to the usual contingent of Canadians. The lectures given by presenters from Hungary’s neighbors nearly all dealt with aspects of the past and present situation of Hungarian and Hungarian-speaking minorities in those countries.
These and other papers given at the conference covered topics in literary history, literature, art history, minority studies, immigration history, political and economic history, history of medicine, musicology, media history, history of religion and so on. This year no papers were presented related to recent or current political developments in Hungary. For the complete conference program see 2013VictoriaPrograms.pdf.
The conference’s opening lecture was given by a frequent guest of the Association, Professor Mária Palasik of the Historical Archives of Hungary’s State Security Agencies. She talked about the immigrant careers of young Hungarian engineers who were forced to leave their homeland at the end of World War II. The gathering’s keynote address was delivered by the Budapest and New York-based Professor Attila Pók who gave a wide-ranging presentation about Hungary’s perceived situation as being between East and West during most of the 20th century. He illustrated his talk with diverse examples from literature, music, political and historical thought.
At the annual business meeting of the Association two members who had been involved in the work of HSAC throughout the nearly three decades of its existence and had passed away since the last meeting were remembered: George Bisztray of Toronto and Jen? Horvath of Vancouver. Several HSAC members spoke in memory of these two veteran leaders of the Association.
The writer of these lines was especially pleased by the presence of several young scholars among the paper presenters. These included Katherine Magyarody, Zsofia Surján, Tanya Watson, and Éva Zsizsmann, the first three doctoral candidates respectively at the Universities of Toronto, Victoria, and Ottawa; while Éva Zsizsman is this year’s scholarship holder at the University of Alberta and a PhD candidate at the University of Szeged. Unfortunately Tünde Székely of Cluj-Napoca’s Sapientia University and PhD student of Corvinus University in Budapest was unable to attend at the last minute because of visa issues.
It was also a pleasure to know that papers were delivered that dealt with events concerning Hungarian-Canadian affairs. Among these was a paper by Professor Margit Balogh of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences that told the story of the visits of Cardinal József Mindszenty to Canada in 1947 and 1973, and how the events of these visits impacted the life of this Hungarian prelate in the months following his return to Hungary. Another paper that touched on the Hungarian ethnic group in Canada was Katherine Magyorody’s lecture examining the North American scouting movement’s potential to create an evolving diasporic identity among Hungarian young people.
The call for papers drafted by Judith Szapor (McGill University), Chair of the Conference Program Committee, was distributed widely which resulted in having the larger than usual contingent of scholars from Central Europe. Committee members Tibor Egervari (University of Ottawa) and Zita McRobbie (Simon Fraser University) helped the Chair to review the proposals and HSAC Secretary, Judy Young of Ottawa, managed the contact with the presenters and other administrative matters.
The next annual conference of the Association will take place, also under the umbrella of Canada’s Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, in June of 2014 on the campus of St. Catherines’ (ON) Brock University with the theme of “Borders Without Boundaries.” The conference after that will be held at the University of Ottawa.
Nandor Dreisziger, Vice-President, HSAC