Current Issue

No 24 (2022): Urban Cultural Context Surrounding Us

Published September 5, 2022


Ethnology and Folklore

Alligators in the Sewers: Urban Legends about Terrifying Animals and Frightening Places

The aim of the present study is to provide an overall picture of the nature of urban folklore using the “Alligators in the Sewers” urban legend type circulated in both the Hungarian and international press and by word of mouth. While contemporary legends have attracted only sporadic attention in Hungarian research to date, by illustrating the historical development of this legend type the aim of the present case study is to demonstrate how the phenomenon has existed in the Hungarian press for almost 200 years.

The present study attempts to identify the kind of opportunities for interpretation offered by these stories in the field of folkloristics; the extent to which they are relevant beyond their literal meaning; and the ways in which they shed light on modern-day understandings of the world. Giant reptiles that are not indigenous to Europe are terrifying to the average individual, while at the same time they evoke a yearning for the natural world in city dwellers trapped amid concrete walls. Urban sewers and storm drains hold similar terrors: on the one hand, they are there to remove filth and symbolize the more unsavory aspects of urban life, while on the other hand their hidden presence beneath the ground offers ample opportunity for the projection of numerous fantasies. Animals that lurk in the sewers, from where they emerge to attack people, are manifestations, contained within simple, traditional narrative frameworks, of the murkiness of highly structured societies and of the sense of danger that this opacity engenders in us. The emergence and persistence of such stories can be attributed to a number of social practices, such as circuses, sideshows, and the keeping of reptiles as pets, along with the respective press reports and rumors.

Remain of a Dialect in an Urban Cultural Medium by Means of Folk-tales: Role of Some Tale-tellers of a Hungarian Ethnic Group Székelys of Bukovina in Hungary

The aim of the paper is to show the role that storytellers can play in the transmission of traditions, identity and dialect today. The paper focuses on a Hungarian ethnic group: Szeklers of Bukovina settled in Hungary in 1945. The main aim of this paper is to present the function of dialects in tales and tale-telling after the change of traditional peasant way of life and dialects. In Bukovina this ethnic group was isolated from the Hungarian mother-country and the majority of Hungarians, their cultural and language changes did not reach them, therefore the members of this ethnic group could retain their traditional culture and dialect. However, in Hungary they were settled into 38 settlements, thereby their original communities broke up. The dialectal and sociolinguistic data of this paper comes from the storyteller’s websites, written and oral personal stories, the text and sound-recording of folk-tales, and also data of formal dialectal researches of this ethnic group is used. This paper presents an analysis of some storytellers who use several dialect elements of this ethnic group, besides the role of dialects in tale-telling is studied too. It is an important aspect of this analyse how some storytellers utilize their dialect in tales and during tale-telling, and why they usually use it. The results of research present that these storytellers can use dialect elements in different ways in their tale-telling. The main conclusion is that use of a dialect can be a part of language education, a dialect is an identity marker, and by the help of it a storyteller can create a pictorial experience during the tale-telling, besides it can be a source of humour too. 


Historical Ethnology

The Venues of Recreation in a Former Socialist Town

In Hungary 10–14 towns were classified as socialist towns. In 1953 the construction of the would-be Leninváros (present day Tiszaújváros) was started.  The town planners laid stress on building facilities for the relaxation and recreation of people and parks, playgrounds, beaches and holiday homes were available for everyone. However, the public places designated as recreational facilities for the inhabitants of the town, which was intended to be an idealistic one, did not satisfy their needs. They pre­ferred to spend their free time in their ‘household plots’ in town. Small gardens and garages complemented a lot of apartments in panel blocks, thus increasing the available living space in a special manner. These “private properties” mostly had the function whose mass demand was unexpected for the planners of the city. The author describes how they helped residents, who often had a village background, making the socialist type of town more liveable.


Cultural Anthropology

“We Came to a Village...”: Value Systems in a Changing World

Although we experience an increasing level of cultural foreign experience in our time intensified by the pressure of migration and the development of information technologies, the conventional view of value systems still pre­vails in modern nations. Change in culture is a never-ending process, though. The persuasive power of stability and uniformity seems to decline in post­modernity transforming the role of nation states, as well. Peripheries and “partial truth” come into view. Value systems are also affected by these changes. Value systems are no longer cast from a single mold, but rather derive from a dynamically changing framework that is shaped by the dialogistic connection of the elements of the sociocultural realm, the central role of the subject’s interpretation and the positioned meaning of values. This paper attempts to describe the changes brought about by postmodernity through the everyday life of four families settled down in Hosszúhetény. After having embraced traditional values at a certain point in their life as a result of a conscious decision, families are compelled to reevaluate their former worldview. This process results in the revision of their identity, as well. In the end, they are trying to establish themselves through various representational practices in a village that has already been modernized. While trying to analyze the components of their value system, I define so-called correlations in the hope of realizing a more relevant understanding of the postmodern age.

New Settlements in Bishkek: Law, Urban Space, Culture and Socio-Economic Development

In Kyrgyzstan, internal migrants in search of a better life left high mountains, clean air, and their native village. There are tens of thousands of such people around the capital city of Bishkek. Physically, they are in the capital in the status of city dwellers, but living conditions, the level of access to public services are at the level of remote regions. And this is how these internal migrants live for tens of years, a new generation of children is growing up who were born in these slums where lack of infrastructure such as schools, drinking water, medical facility, electricity, and transport.

This study is aimed to explore the living conditions of residents in the new settlements and their rights for decent housing. The study was prepared in order to attract the attention of the state authorities to solve the urgent problems of the residents.


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