Oral History Center - UC Berkeley Library

Sándor Striker: An Interview with Sándor Striker

Striker, Sándor
Thomas, Virginia
Sándor Striker: An Interview with Sándor Striker
On June 1, 2008, Sandor Striker was appointed Vice Dean of the Faculty of Pedagogy and Psychology of the ELTE University in Budapest. He comes from the Polanyi family of prominent Hungarian intellectuals (Karoly Polanyi and Michael Polanyi were greatuncles). Although his parents were long-time Communist Party members, he became disillusioned with Communist “democracy” in secondary school, and he planned to become a literature teacher and work independent of the political situation. After four years at the university but before writing his thesis, he went to England, where he learned English and studied at the university. But he illegally stayed for a year, so his passport was taken away by the Hungarian Embassy in London. He describes in fascinating detail what he learned about politics, his own country and life in general, and the complicated scheming he used successfully to return to Hungary. Back in Budapest, Striker finished his university thesis on Lucifer and freedom in Madach’s The Tragedy of Man. He joined the Ministry of Culture and Education after the political changes of 1990 and succeeded in having legislation passed to make the country’s cultural centers more democratic. He became cultural attaché in London, but with a change in the Hungarian government his position was threatened. There followed years of legal suits against the government, during part of which he acted as his own attorney; he finally won the many court battles and appeals. He taught first at the University of Applied Arts and then at Eotvos Lorand University, at the latter teaching European studies, the theory of culture, and cultural management. He comments on the continuation of old feudal traditions in Hungary today, the divisions in the country, and current political and economic problems. Discursive Table of Contents: Family, parents, childhood and education—Communism in education— political awakening—influence of Beat culture and conflict with parents—travel by Hungarians during Communism—career plans, teaching in small town, and studying cultural center management in the university—decision to go to England and trip there—loss of passport, and life in England—return to Hungary: reasons for and restrictions—vindication and getting new passport—finishing thesis for university—discussion of The Tragedy of Man, freedom, and the influence of cultural environment—work in the Ministry of Culture and Education and successful cultural center legislation—Hungarian cultural attaché in London, government changes—legal controversies with the government—discussion of the situation of Hungary today
Subject area(s):
Community and Identity
Interview date(s):
Community and Identity - Individual Interviews
Striker, Sándor. "Sándor Striker: An Interview with Sándor Striker." Interview by Virginia Thomas in 2007. Oral History Center, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2010.