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MIGRANT WOMEN WRITERS ON THE MARGINS OF EUROPE: THE CASE OF HUNGARY

Final Report Summary - MIGLIT (MIGRANT WOMEN WRITERS ON THE MARGINS OF EUROPE: THE CASE OF HUNGARY)

A summary description of the project objectives:

Objectives: The central objective of this research project is the investigation of Hungary’s immigrant women’s textual production within a European context. The diversity of languages and cultures in motion is central to contemporary European experience. Such diversity is represented in a variety of textual forms (poetry, fiction, memoir, drama, multimedia, etc) that challenge the existing concepts of genre, audience and cultural production which shape our current European experience. These emerging varieties of cultural expression connect diverse communities and have the potential to better contextualise our understanding of cultural patterns within Europe. More negatively, migrant women may also face significant obstacles in achieving production, publication and dissemination. Emergent varieties of linguistic style and cultural expression may be dismissed as inaccurate or incomplete, praised as new or exotic, and/or absorbed into standardized and normalized forms. Yet the acts of self-translation by migrants into or alongside their host societies, together with the continuing traces of originary cultures, carry artistic and linguistic consequences that connect diverse communities as cultural producers and consumers.
A significant body of migrant women’s textual expression has been produced in contemporary Hungary by native speakers of Hungarian who have immigrated to Hungary from neighbouring countries such as Romania, Slovakia, Croatia or Slovenia. The present study’s short term objective is to examine this work intensively and also to problematise the manner in which this work has been conceptualised within, and integrated into, the Hungarian literary establishment. In addition, it proposes to examine the almost totally neglected topic of literary expression in Hungarian by non-native speakers. The sixteen months, for which funding is sought, will be devoted to this short term objective. The long term objective is to place the findings of this study in a European context, particularly through a close comparative investigation of the Hungarian and Irish situations.

A description of the work performed since the beginning of the project:

During the first stage of the project (first 12 months) the fellow mapped Hungary’s contemporary migrant women artists, selected her objects of study and prepared a theoretical framework for the analysis of her sources. This stage also included developing personal networks with potential subjects of study and migrant cultural groups. Essential training was provided by active participation in CEU’s departmental seminar series and training-through-research under supervision by the scientist in charge. (Course name Interdisciplinary Approaches to Transnational Studies, course leader Dr Jasmina Lukic).
In the middle stages of the project the fellow selected sample of women artists. Conducted qualitative micro-research investigating expressions of migrant identity, exploring the artists’ narrative strategies in their cultural output. The artists’ creative career was analysed alongside semi-structured interviews. Extended interview was conducted during this timeframe with Zsófia Balla and Katalin Ladik. Transcribed interview with Balla and made first analysis of research, in tandem with methodological training at CEU. Within this timeframe the following outreach activities were achieved: Marie Curie Ambassador: The fellow visited University of Pécs, University of Debrecen, Pázmány Péter Catholic University in Budapest and Eötvös Loránd University Budapest (both Hungarian and English departments) to present her research to students and fellow academics. In addition the fellow presented seminars at the University of Pécs and the University of Debrecen. Public talks: The fellow organised public readings by the studied authors in the Central European University. The fellow introduced and moderated this event. During the second stage of the project (last 4 months) the fellow consolidated the theoretical and primary research findings in the preparation of a scholarly volume, which was achieved by the commissioning by CEU Press of a book series on Transnational Studies plus a co-edited volume (under preparation) called Transnational Women’s Literature in Europe. In addition, the building of a collaborative network on the subject of women migrants in Europe was achieved by organising the successful three day international conference called Transnational Women’s Literature in Europe, website address (http://www.femtranslit.eu/).
The last stage of the project focused on writing up the research findings and the preparing of a publication of a scholarly article on the preliminary findings. The research results were consolidated and placed in a wider European perspective. The fellow took part in the development of an international collaborative network. In addition she took an active part in the research and financial management of the research project, as well as securing the development of organisational skills.

A description of the main results achieved so far:

• Publication of scholarly monograph (Borbála Faragó, Medbh McGuckian (Maryland: Bucknell University Press, 2014. ISBN 1611485630)
• Submission of scholarly article commissioned for AHEA open access peer reviewed e-journal (http://ahea.net/e-journal)
• Organisation of three day international conference (www.femtranslit.eu)
• Launching book series with Central European Press
• Securing publication contract for edited collection Transnational Women Writers (CEU Press)
• Securing publication contract for edited collection Animals in Irish literature and Culture (Palgrave Macmillan Press)

The expected final results and their potential impact and use (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far):

Results: The final results will map and analyse the creative output of Hungary’s migrant women in an interdisciplinary framework. The results will form part of a comparative and interdisciplinary research monograph, integrating the project and previous research on Irish migrancy, and will also lead to the publication of articles in high-impact academic journals. Publication of extended interviews is also envisaged. Through the patterns of collaboration between the researcher and the scientist in charge the project will contribute to the establishment of a wider European network of interdisciplinary scholars, researching cognate aspects of this theme.
Impact: The research provides the intellectual and methodological framework for a cross-cultural comparison of two European areas which are seldom considered in tandem with each other. This has implications for the understanding of notions of periphery and centre within Europe, whether this is conceptualised in terms of geography, linguistic status or economic development. The commonality of the experience of migrancy offers significant opportunities for enhanced comparative research. This project offers a solid pool of conclusions and data for other researchers to make use of, and it also constitutes a model for future research. This research is also of high relevance for the further research of migrant literatures, and in particular of migrant women’s literature in contemporary Europe. Thus the research contributes to European studies on various levels: a.) It contributes to better understanding of current cultural developments in postcommunist spaces, from a literary perspective; b.) The research is framed in a comparative European perspective, which is a topic of interest of European knowledge production; c.) This research contributes to a better understanding of migration processes and the ways contemporary migrants tend to articulate their positions within the European cultural framework; d.) It contributes a much needed mapping of contemporary women’s writing in Europe.