Welcome

The Korall Journal for Social History aims to provide a platform for Hungarian and international research, which develop novel approaches, explore, and undertake interdisciplinary social study and analysis of historical processes and connections underlying social, economic, and political phenomena.

The Journal was founded by young researchers of history, sociology and anthropology in 1999, and the first issue came out in August 2000. It is an independent medium and is not affiliated with any public, scientific or academic institution and university. It is published by the Korall Association for Social History dedicated to this purpose.The Association’s core members are the editors, and it is presided by the incumbent editor in chief. Until the end of 2007, the Journal had two singles and a double issue per year. From 2008, it is issued quarterly.

The contents of each issue concentrate on one thematic strand specified by the Editorial Board in the previous year. We place great emphasis on following the most up-to-date seminal international work in these thematics, thus the journal often contains studies previously published in international journals and edited volumes. However, we do welcome hitherto unpublished contributions from abroad. Besides the thematic block of studies, the issues provide space for important work in other fields as well. The Journal also offers a critical review of recent Hungarian and international literature, which appears in the regular 'Books' column. The occasional 'Journal Review' column provides a similar overview of significant international journals or important issues. Further occasional columns are 'Sources and Interpretations', 'Forum', 'Panorama' and 'Interview'. 'Sources and Interpretations' presents sources or interesting documents with relevance to the thematic of the issue. 'Forum' provides space for academic debate, while the miscellaneous 'Panorama' column contains reports about important events or reflections on current research questions and problems. Finally, the 'Interview' section contains conversations with historians and social historians about their views and academic career.

The Editors are confident that the historical analysis of social processes is not merely an enjoyable and instructive read. Its importance lies not only in the record and analysis of past events, but primarily in making informed conclusions about the past, the key to our understanding present problems. We believe that although the past in itself justifies nothing, historical processes and determinant factors define the framework for possible actions and contingencies. Furthermore, the future is in the hand of the protagonists of history: individuals who think and act. Thus, scientifically assessing the probable limitations of an individual or collective political action in any given historical moment can indeed lead to the best possible solution or decision. This means that historical knowledge has real practical value both on the level of the individual and the community, as long as the possible modes of understanding through history and related social sciences are recognised and put to use.

The title of the Journal represents this view: in one of his works, István Hajnal, the most important Hungarian social historian of the first half of the twentieth century, likened the historical evolution of humankind to the growth of a coral. In his metaphor, the living layers turn into a dead and immobile skeletal structure through time, which determines where and how living organisms may continue to grow. Its future development, albeit resting on solid foundations, may take unpredictable turns. In other words, the historical developments of human society are at once predetermined and random. The changes of directions resultant of individual actions are determined by the past in a way that does not exclude the role of probability. These become fossilised layers themselves and, in turn, come to determine possible directions in the future. The editorial board of Korall is committed to maintain this perspective in the selection of the contents and explore this fossilising and fossilised skeletal structure, its composition and characteristics, with the aim of facilitating a better understanding of the present and the shaping of the future.

Gábor Czoch

editor in chief