Marelyin Kiss, József
The founder of the Collection of Political Transition, József Marelyin Kiss, historian and sociologist, was born on the 24th of February, 1953, in Csepel. He spent his childhood in Tököl where he completed primary school. He graduated from the secondary school in Csepel (1967–1971), worked first as a teacher in Szigethalom, and then after the years of (compulsory) military service he was admitted to the Lajos Kossuth University (KLTE) in Debrecen in 1973. He received his (MA-equivalent) degree in history and geography from the university in 1978. He worked as a teaching assistant for the Department of Scientific Socialism (within the Institute of Marxism-Leninism) at KLTE between 1978 and 1980, then lectured on medical sociology at the Institute of Marxism of the Medical University of Debrecen. He was given permission to leave this position on the condition that he attend an intensive two-year course of the Department of Sociology of Loránd Eötvös University of Budapest, which was an accredited postgraduate educational institution in the Buda Castle. This period of education and activities spiked his interest in the opposition and began with the revelation of his discovery of samizdat writings, his further studies in sociology, and his acquaintance with some of the distinguished members of the cultural opposition. In the case of his life career as a sociologist and contemporary historian, his cultural opposition was expressed in the topics he scrutinized, their fact-finding characteristics being contrary to the official ideology of the communist regime. Encouraged personally by István Márkus, in 1983 he joined the rural village sociological research project led by Márkus and István Fekete in Homokmégy, and then he took over as head of the project. The early 1980s were a remarkable phase of activity, documented in the Collection of Political Transition, resulting in the rise of oppositional attitudes. Several social scientists who were regarded as opposition personalities contributed to these village research projects. Some of the documents of the Collection are linked to the rural sociology research.
In his courses at the Medical University of Debrecen, he lectured on deviant behavior and poverty and provided research documentation by István Kemény and Zsuzsa Ferge to his students, “asking them not to pass this samizdat stuff to the police who otherwise already were well aware of them.” His career and research activities are related to “cultural opposition” in terms of his work as a sociologist and historian of contemporary Hungarian history. His research that revealed the facts of how Hungarian society functioned in reality under communism were in opposition to the prevailing socialist ideology and the official views of the ruling party.
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