Revolution and identity: The influence of political events on the process of assimilation

Zoltan Geczy, Fordham University


This study probes the relationship between a rare and cataclysmic historical experience, a national revolution and its impact on the lives and sense of identity of those, who being its witnesses and participants, left their native land after its fall to reconstruct their shattered lives upon new foundations in America. It is intended to be a contribution to an enduring subject of American social research, the role of the ethnic past of new Americans in the process of assimilation. The contribution brought to this traditional topic is that the discussion is in the context of the ideological competition and power struggles between different types of societies, a conflict which is a permanent feature of contemporary life. It is a fact that politically originated emigration has been on the increase for several decades now, due to this international conflict of competing ideologies. This calls for the study of politically originated emigration just as economically originated emigrations were studied in the past. The group considered here is a group whose assimilation experiences and modifications in identity have been characterized by an ongoing conflict with the ruling strata of their native land and society. The resources employed in the exploration of the subject are: participant observation, American theories of the assimilation of emigrants, the scrutiny of values and culture in a comparative framework and the evaluation of Marxist ideology in relationship to self concept and cultural attitudes. The discussion begins by presenting how the native Hungarian culture and the congenial foreign culture of the United States as well as the historically rooted sense of ethnic identity became involved in resisting Communist indoctrination and the pressures of ideologically motivated intrusions into the self concept of Hungarian youth. After tracing the supportive elements of ethnic identity and its manifestations before and after emigration and assimilation, the thesis describes the methods used by an ideologically aggressive Communist regime to exploit the ethnic identity and culture of Hungarians in order to weaken their resistance abroad and opposition at home. It examines current theories of assimilation in the light of this unique experience.

Subject Area

European history|East European Studies|Modern history|International Relations|Ethnic studies

Recommended Citation

Geczy, Zoltan, "Revolution and identity: The influence of political events on the process of assimilation" (1987). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8809468.