For over a decade in Hungary, the FIDESZ government of Viktor Orban has pursued the making of an “illiberal” democracy. During this period, CREES has sponsored lectures on events in Hungary, including Hungary’s outsized influence on populist and far-right movements elsewhere in Europe and more recently in the United States. Today’s roundtable continues this conversation with the work of two Hungarian anthropologists, Dr. Violetta Zentai and Dr. Margit Feischmidt. Each will briefly discuss aspects of their current work investigating contemporary Hungary under the Orban regime and then open the discussion to questions from the audience. The roundtable will be moderated by professor of anthropology CREES Faculty Associate Krisztina Fehervary.
Dr. Zentai will provide an overview from her work on the “anti-gender” political discourses propagated by the current authoritarian-populist regime, and its linkages to de-democratization in the region. Anti-gender discourses not only embrace sexist, homophobic, and anti-gender-equality reasoning, but help enact a nativist and biopolitical right-wing social imagination. She will address the transnational sources of this discourse as well as how it is used by home-grown actors to normalize and make respectable forms of discrimination that were once considered populist, backwards, and exclusionary.
Dr. Feischmidt’s presentation will draw on a larger project undertaken to understand the cultural logic and social support of new forms of nationalism in Hungary. Here, she will discuss political elites who have fostered the contemporary “Trianon Cult,” a new phenomenon of collective mourning for losses suffered a century ago in the Treaty of Trianon (1920). This “view from above” will be complemented with a “view from below,” by examining the meanings that audiences give to these newly-constructed collective memories. The argument of the paper is that while the Trianon-cult invokes a historical trauma, it in fact speaks to current feel