My paper for the international conference “Visegrad countries and Africa: History and Contemporaneity” held online on 27 April 2022. I follow 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.
I talk about how semiperipheral “whiteness” should reconfigure our ideas of Eastern European racial and colonial history through the case of Hungarian ‘Indian play’. The “tradition” of whites playing out Native Americans in cultural and racial performances was often an antagonistic practice of anti-colonial solidarity and colonial appropriation. In the Eastern European case, it often became a way of contesting Western hegemony, but through mimicking Western colonial cultures of appropriation and “nativism”. Today, the Orbán government is building on this colonial and racial heritage through nationalist anti-communist memory politics.
I was honored to present my paper The Return of the Colonial: Understanding the Role of Eastern Europe in Global Colonization Debates and Decolonial Struggles at the opening event of the Decolonize Hellas project and research platform on 19 May, 2021. In my paper, I introduced my world-sytemic approach to conceptualizing semiperipheral Hungarian and Eastern European colonial histories and decolonialism from a global perspective.
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.
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 #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.
In Poliko Podcast’s 4th episode, Dávid Karas talks with Zoltán Ginelli, a Hungarian critical geographer whose research repositions the semi-peripheral experience of Hungarian modernization in a global context, by studying the many points of connections linking peoples, ideas, expertise, institutions and political utopias in Hungary to other peripheries in the postcolonial Global South. Zoltán has co-curated with Eszter Szakács a fantastic exhibition in Budapest entitled Transperiphery Movement, where he examines these trans-peripheral connections in collaboration with a host of artists and scholars. They talk about Zoltán’s own research on postcoloniality, race and global history from an Eastern European perspective, and the themes through which the exhibition examines these topics.
The Transperiphery Movement attempts to recapture revolutionary action by tracing forgotten interperipheral circulations between Eastern Europe and the Global South. The transcolonial geographic history of “Colonia Hungaria” – a semi-fictitious Hungarian colonial ecumen – questions, dispositions, disorders and challenges hegemonic histories of global racial-colonial capitalism.
What would it mean to ‘decolonize’ Eastern Europe? We aim to answer by situating Eastern Europe within broader colonial, anti-colonial and decolonial projects, to understand how the region’s historically and geographically shifting relations to coloniality and race inform current political dynamics.
Call for Papers | American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting | Seattle, WA | April 7–11, 2021 | Virtual Session convened by Zoltán Ginelli and Jonathan McCombs