Division of Rural Development invites you to a seminar with Chris Hann Professor Emeritus, Director, Max PIanck Institute for Social Anthropology and Gábor Scheiring, Marie Curie Fellow at Bocconi University.
Hungary is a virulent example of the new nationalist ascendancy. We conceptualize Hungary’s neo-nationalist turn as a Polanyian countermovement against postsocialist commodification, the collapse of agricultural cooperatives, and deindustrialization. The 1970s and 1980s were decades of socialist embeddedness, bringing slow but steady development to provincial Hungary. However, neoliberal conﬁgurations after 1990 dislocated both economic and associational life.
Relying on Polanyi, we highlight the dynamic interplay between culture, structure, and identity, building on our fieldwork in small and medium-sized towns in provincial Hungary. We illustrate our argument with data from long-term ﬁeldwork in the region of the Danube-Tisza Interﬂuve and 82 interviews with workers in four rustbelt towns in Hungary. We highlight how the multiscalar lived experience of neoliberal commodifying reforms violated an implicit social contract and changed narrative identities. In the absence of a class-based shared narrative and lacking a viable political tool to control their fate, neo-nationalism emerged as a new narrative identity to express workers’ and post-peasants’ anger and outrage.
Chris Hann Professor Emeritus, Director, Max PIanck Institute for Social Anthropology. Chris Hann retired in 2021 after 22 years as a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle (Saale). His research in rural Eastern Europe dates back to the 1970s. Recent books include Repatriating Polanyi: Market Society in the Visegrád States (2019). Together with Gábor Scheiring, in 2021 he edited a special issue of Europe-Asia Studies titled Neoliberal Capitalism and Visegrád Contermovements.
Gábor Scheiring Marie Curie Fellow at Bocconi University. His research addresses the political-economic determinants of inequality in health and wellbeing, and how these shape democracy and capitalist diversity. His book, The Retreat of Liberal Democracy (2020) shows how working-class dislocation and business elite polarization enable illiberalism. As a member of the Hungarian Parliament (2010-2014) he advocated for a socially just transition to sustainability.