Anssi Halmesvirta (ed.)
Cult Personalities and Phenomena
This collection of studies in personality and other cults in modern history reflects the strong tradition of cult-studies in Hungary. Even if one can now discern a turn from personality cults to sentimental cults of victims, the publication of this volume is well-timed since post- 1989 critical historical studies have torn the fatherly masks of Communist and other more or less totalitarian leaders wore. In it the authors, Hungarian and Finnish historians, tackle the problematic of cultic phenomena both theoretically and empirically: the methods to build identities through cults are being analyzed and it is shown how the figures, for instance, of Napoleon, Kossuth, Horthy, Rákosi and Hitler were recast in images that were elevated above the enchanted, mesmerized or at times frustrated public.
These studies scrutinize how most of the cults were manufactured in order to use them for power-political purposes in current media and popular culture. What also comes to the fore: old cults were revived in new contexts to create a new halo around the power that represented it. Consequently, cults have had different fates: Sissi’s figure still attracts young female followers but the stud farm of Bábolna has lost its value as a show-case it used to have to Hungarian Socialism