Explaining Viktor’s Victory: Nation, Civilization and Political Economy in Hungary

Lecture series AnthroLab


19. April 2018 18:15 – 19. April 2018 19:45

Deutschhausstraße 3, lecture hall, 2nd floor

On 8th April Hungarians go to the polls to elect a new parliament. The result seems likely to be a repeat of the 2014 result, which was itself a replay of 2010. The current decade in East-Central Europe is dominated by “populists”.

But what is this populism? The academic literature has been dominated by political scientists. What can anthropologists contribute? Are we on the side of liberal cosmopolitans, or with the voters who seem to reject these elites ever more scornfully? Is it possible to remain neutral in the name of a value-free social science?

The lecture will explore Hungarian populism from a variety of perspectives: ethno-national (“we, the Magyars”), civilizational (“we, Christian Europeans”) and political-economic (“we, the structurally marginalized in the neoliberal capitalist EU, a country from which German companies extract far more surplus value than is returned in transfer income from Brussels”). It will draw on ethnography to question some common external representations (e.g. in mainstream German media coverage) and raise issues pertinent to the rise of populist political parties elsewhere (including Germany).


Prof. Dr. Chris Hann, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

Event Organizer

Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology