In my research, I am gathering all important international conferences and meetings attended by Hungarian geographers and spatial planners in the socialist era. One of the main networks between East and West were the International Geographical Union’s world congresses. The first of these world congresses, where the USSR and Eastern European members attended was the one in 1960 in Stockholm. This showed the post-Stalin era’s softening of isolationist politics and geopolitical tensions, and the world economy’s “boom era” from the end of the 1950s and throughout the 1960s. Urban and regional planning thus came to the fore, with specialists in planning establishing more and more professional connections internationally. But for Hungarian geographers and regional planners, and probably much for East and West connections, probably the most important of these meeting was the European Regional Conference of the International Geographical Union organized in Hungary in 1971. As the organizers wrote in their report to the journal Geoforum:
“Another important attractive force was the fact that the Budapest conference was the first real East-West meeting in the realm of the geographical sciences; approximately 40% of the participants represented the socialist countries.
The conference had 734 registered and attending members from 34 countries. Several people had themselves registered as “non-participating” members in order to receive the interesting publication material. The largest foreign delegation arrived from the Soviet Union – 114. This was followed by the Federal Republic of Germany – 47, United States – 45, Czechoslovakia – 33, and France – 32. The majority of the participants naturally came from Europe, although all the continents were “present” at our conference.
The conference may play a very significant role in the future development of Hungarian geography and the expansion of our international relations. It happened for the first time that we had the opportunity to give an account of the results of the full scope of Hungarian geographical research projects, because of previoussimilar meetings only a few of our scientists had been able to attend. Many of our young research workers participated for the first time in an international meeting of this kind. They had the opportunity of listening to the excellent lectures of prominent representatives of their professional field and to the reports of the most recent results of research, much of which is still unpublished. ” (Enyedi – Marosi 1972: 86, 88)
The preparations for this conference started in 1969, when the Hungarian Academy of Sciences entrusted the Geographical Research Institute with its organization. It took place between 10-14 August 1971 at the Karl Marx University of Economics, Budapest. As many of these congresses of the time, its main topics – where most of the papers were coming in – were urbanization and regional planning. This conference was part of the enormous effort of György Enyedi in establishing Hungarian geography’s international relations, and from the 1970s, Hungarian geographers came much more in the perception of the West.
I have just excavated the conference book of abstracts, so I’m doing a short analysis on this (Lackó – Piroska 1971).
György Enyedi, Sándor Marosi (1972):European Regional Conference of the International Geographical Union. Geoforum, 9: 85-88.
Lackó László, Polyánszky Piroska (1971): International Geographical Union European Regional Conference, Hungary, 1971: Abstracts of Papers – Supplement. MTA KESZ, Budapest.