Cultic revelations : studies in modern historical cult personalities and phenomena
This collection of articles contains history papers of the third conference of the joint project of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Finland titled Cult and Community , held in Jyväskylä, 6 7 September, 2007. They are complemented by a couple of specialized, independent contributions by scholars working in the field of cults. It may be noted that the Finnish participants were newcomers in the cult research group since the Hungarian cult studies draw on traditions in the history of literature (e.g. Péter Dávidházi on Shakespeare-cult, the publications of the Petőfi Museum of Literature, Budapest and the Déri Múzeum, Debrecen) and critical studies. Also studies in personality cults of the Communist leaders in the Eastern Europe have been launched there. In Finland the situation has been different. There have been lively cults of J. L. Runeberg (national poet), J. V. Snellman (philosopher for the Finnish nation) and other luminaries but genuine political cults have been relatively rare and ambiguous. In such a legalist country as Finland has been, revolutionary popular movements imitating National Socialism and Fascism impregnated by obsessive cultic practices, could not gain long-standing, firm foothold. That Vihtori Kosola, the leader of the fascismo of Finland the label of a British contemporary correspondent could call almost 13,000 peasants to demonstrate in 1930 at the main square in Helsinki, was the utmost he could manage and it was not enough to transform his popularity into a personality cult. And that he was donated a bust of Mussolini by the Italian Embassy rather was a symbolic diplomatic gesture not prone to elevate Kosola s figure to wider public acceptance. Nevertheless, usually in times of crisis, some strong men have been promoted to represent the ability to defend the country. One of them was, for example, President P.E. Svinhufvud for the White Finland in the early 1930s. In contrast, the feminine symbol of Finland, the whitedressed virgin, was a rather fragile figure but all the same politically utilized. Lenin and Mannerheim are exceptional types as they represent the heroism of the opposing political camps. It has been a great intellectual pleasure and refreshment to the Finnish participants to get acquainted with the Hungarian insights and methods to study cults during the project. Hopefully, the impact has been mutual. The Finnish contingent wishes to thank the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Finland for their support.