This chapter looks at the global geographies of the ‘colonial turn’ in the Orbán governments’ post-2010 political discourse in Hungary from the perspective of religion and securitization. After 2010, ‘Central Europe’ became demarcated by government discourse as a “non-colonizer” and “ethnically homogeneous” region from the “colonizer”, multicultural/racial and therefore decadent West. Declared as a “Christian democracy”, the Hungarian “illiberal” state fused the preservation of a Central European ‘pure’ religious identity with Eurocentric, colonial and post-imperial arguments after the 2015 refugee crisis. The chapter elucidates the complex ‘scalar political economy’ behind how the local ideology of “Christian freedom” is contradictingly embedded in Hungary’s “global struggle against Christian persecution” to “stop migration” as a form of new ‘colonial missionarism’.
My paper explores competing visions of establishing a Hungarian colony in the context of Latin American Hungarian settlers in the interwar era. I introduce my concept of “transcoloniality” to traverse interconnected Eastern European and South American colonial contexts, and explore the trajectories of Hungarian colonialism through my concept “Colonial Hungaria.”
This paper follows a world-systemic and decolonial approach to investigate Hungarian semiperipheral positioning strategies in global colonial history by looking at the interactions and converging interests of Hungary and Ghana in the early 1960s. The paper focuses on József Bognár, a hugely important but forgotten political figure in socialist era Hungarian economics and foreign economic policy-making. In 1963, Bognár founded a government think tank, the Centre for AfroAsian Research (CAAR) at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (renamed in 1973 as the Institute for World Economy). The institute evolved out of Bognár’s “Ghana job”: Ghanaian president Kwame Nkrumah, on the occasion of his Eastern European round-trip in 1961, asked Bognár to develop Ghana’s First Seven-Year Plan.
This paper overviews three case studies on how Hungarians opened to Afro-Asian decolonization and the emerging Non-Aligned Third World between the mid-1950s and early 1960s. The first case is ex-premier Ferenc Nagy’s anti-communist criticism of “Soviet colonialism” influencing the first Afro-Asian conference in Bandung (1955); the second is István Bibó and Árpád Göncz opting for non-alignment and seeking aid from India during the 1956 revolution; the third is József Bognár’s attempt at development planning in Ghana and the wider Third World. The paper explores how former Smallholders’ Party members pursued different political paths ultimately connected by attempts of forming anti-colonial alliances, and how Hungarian postwar political agendas globalized to translate and connect to the postcolonial world. Finally, it asks why these Hungarian interactions are missing from the global history of the Non-Aligned Movement.
The paper aims to contest the ‘Cold War paradigm’ by interpreting deeper connections to the anti-Semitic interwar era within global colonialism. It explores three case studies: the Hungarian reception of René Maran’s Batouala (1921) translated by the famous writer Dezső Kosztolányi; Illés Kaczér’s Ikongo Will Not Die (1936), the first Hungarian ‘negro novel’; and Miklós Radnóti’s poetry and translations inspired by African culture.
After a year of preparation, I finally signed a contract with Cambridge University Press to co-author with James Mark and Péter Apor our book, tentatively titled “Hungary between the Colonial and Anti-Colonial Worlds”. The book seeks to situate Hungary within the global histories of colonialism, decolonisation and alternative world-making, particularly ‘between peripheries’ – in the semiperiphery of the world-system.
Transperiphery Conversations #1 History professor James Mark (University of Exeter) in conversation with Zoltán Ginelli discuss how to historicize Eastern Europe within the global histories of colonialism and decolonization with a focus on Hungarian experiences.
Transperiphery Conversations #2 Photographer and curator Bartosz Nowicki in conversation with Zoltán Ginelli talk about the socialist era history of Global South students in Eastern Europe by focusing on Poland and Hungary, and introduce Nowicki’s Afro-PRL (Polish People’s Republic) project showcased in the exhibition.
Transperiphery Conversations #3 Philosopher and cultural theorist Ovidiu Ţichindeleanu talks with Zoltán Ginelli about Négritude and Pan-Africanism in Eastern Europe by focusing on case studies and insights from Hungary and Romania.
The 12th session of the Decolonising Europe Lecture Series organized by the Amsterdam Center for European Studies (ACES) asks where is Eastern Europe in the history of global colonialism? Zoltán Ginelli and James Mark explores why Eastern Europe has been largely absent from mainstream histories of global colonialism and studies of postcolonialism and decolonialism.