Roots and Routes : Life stories of exiled Hungarian women in Sweden

Katalin Henriksson

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

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This dissertation analyses the narrated life stories of Swedish Hungarian women, sharing the numerous values and experiences of Hungarian exiles. With the help of interview transcripts of five women from the first generation of Hungarians living in exile in southern Sweden, the study presents seldom-discussed angles of ascertained membership in the Hungarian nation, moving beyond traditional definitions of ethnic belonging, official census figures, and organizational categorizations. The analysis is based on the author’s primary investigations and long-lasting personal relationship with the interviewees.

The study traces the legacy of individuals in the exile generation, as well as the mutual impact of the studied
individuals and the Hungarian community. It shows that commonly accepted definitions are not always useful when categorizing immigrants: the analysed stories do not present victims of circumstances, contradicting practiced grand narratives that often speak of occasional, perceived, and lived discrimination regarding minorities or migrants. Rather, the stories depict efforts towards equilibrium in the narrators’ attitudes and behaviour, including maintaining important segments of Hungarian culture, while integrating or rejecting integration into wider society. The interviewees spoke of the importance of shared issues, such as parenting and relationships with family members and community, as well as work and the impact of minority status on their lives.

The study also presents the sentiments of the five Hungarians vis-à-vis their ancestry and heritage and their relation to their adopted and native countries from the perspective of the life adjustments they experienced while living in Sweden, including their outlook for the future. The stories include contradictions and even obscurities that sometimes confound the logic of ruling discourses, thus problematizing the institutions and ideologies that shape our lives.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Centre for Languages and Literature
  • Schönström, Rikard, Supervisor
  • Wästerfors, David, Supervisor
Award date2016 Feb 4
ISBN (Print)978-91-7623-299-6
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Defence details

Date: 2016-02-04
Time: 13:00
Place: Fakultetsklubben, Språk- och litteraturcentrum, Helgonabacken 12, Lund

External reviewer(s)

Name: Thor Tureby, Malin
Title: Biträdande professor
Affiliation: Linköpings universitet


Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • Hungarian
  • Hungarian Minorities
  • Hungarianness
  • Migration
  • Mobility
  • Narratives
  • Narrations
  • Life stories
  • Membership Category
  • Category Entitlement
  • Identifications
  • Ethnic Identification
  • Culture
  • Doing Gender


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