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Hadley Z. Renkin

Violent attacks on gay and lesbian activities in the public sphere, coupled with verbal aggression against sexual minorities by right-wing politicians in Hungary and other postsocialist countries, illustrate the centrality of sexuality in questions of postsocialist transition. This article discusses the limits of current scholarly interpretations of homophobia in postsocialist countries. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork on LGBT activism in Hungary, it argues that by undertaking public projects that assert multiple forms of identity and community, LGBT people, although often portrayed as passive objects of the changing configurations of power of Hungary's transition, have raised a radical challenge to traditional imaginings of the boundaries between national and transnational meanings. It is this challenge—the proposal of a “queering” of belonging—to which right-wing, nationalist actors have responded with public violence.

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Making an Appearance

The Formation of Women's Groups in Hungary

Katalin Fábián

This essay presents a historical analysis of Hungarian women's movements from the late eighteenth century until recent years. As women's organising in Hungary responded to both internal and international economic and political forces, it also revealed four sets of connections across the diverse historical landscape. First, these groups have framed their political aims to achieve greater legitimacy by selectively emphasising their international connections. The second parallel is the particularly harsh treatment women's groups have received when the dominant ideology changed. Third, in response to this treatment and for sheer self-preservation, women activists re-framed contemporary events and re-interpreted history in general and women's history in particular to strengthen their sense of identity and self-justification. The fourth common feature is the often difficult relationship between women's groups and the state. These four features potentially counterbalanced the many disagreements among women's groups over what they perceive to be women's appropriate roles and the definition of feminism, and persistently led to women's mobilisation and actions. Controversies around feminism ignite and fundamentally influence how and why women's groups become implicated in politics. Looking at the case of Eastern Europe, and especially focusing on Hungary, this essay argues that feminism has helped to establish much common ground among activists.

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Gergely Rosta

This essay analyses the changing religiosity of the Hungarian youth population between the ages of 15 and 29 after the millennium. The basis for this empirical investigation is provided by the three waves (2000, 2004, 2008) of the National Youth Study. From their results, a similar picture emerges on the religiosity of the youth as from other nation-wide surveys, in relation to the whole adult population. Since the first Youth Study a slow but steady decline has been witnessed in different dimensions of religiosity (practice, faith, self-classification). It is especially salient for institutionalised religiosity. At the same time, the vast majority of the Hungarian youth confess to believing in some kind of supernatural instance, though not necessarily a traditional Christian one.

The socio-demographical background to the differences in religiosity can be partly explained by the secularisation theory, but the effects of an expanded religious education are present too. In contrast to the secularisation thesis, however, the transmission of traditional religious conviction is much more likely in families with better educational backgrounds than other parts of the society, a phenomenon which points to a more and more elite type of church religiosity in Hungary.

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Social Quality

A New Concern in Hungary

Zsuzsa Széman

Following the systemic change which affected Eastern and Central Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Western experts considered that individual countries had different chances of catching up to the West. According to Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former US National Security Adviser, the Central European countries would take at least ten years to become pluralistic, free-market democracies. Five countries (Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia and Estonia) were thought to have better chances of transforming themselves into successful liberal democracies, and so to come near to Western standards in the foreseeable future.

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Social Quality in Hungary

In the Framework of ENIQ

Szilvia Altorjai and Erzsébet Bukodi

In Hungary, the social and economic conditions have dramatically changed after the political and economical transition. The collapse of communism in 1989–90 forced Hungary, as well as other CEE countries, to reconstruct their political, economic and cultural identity. This process has become known as the ‘transition’ and Europeanisation or globalisation (Manning 2004). Within this transition the ability of adjustment to new conditions has become one of the most important factors – if not the most – in the process of diminishing risks and enhancing life chances. The theoretical and methodological elements of the social quality approach were established in the last two to three years. In this article we aim to outline the most important elements of social quality in the conditional factors socio-economic security, social inclusion, social cohesion as well as social empowerment in Hungary. Here, besides a short description of the national context we will emphasise only the key findings according to the four conditional factors. In the third part of the article we outline some aspects of the Hungarian employment policy.

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Theatre and Ideology

Staging The Merchant of Venice at the Hungarian National Theatre in 1940 and 1986

Zoltán Imre

The article deals with the 1940 and the 1986 stagings of The Merchant of Venice in Hungary and with the forty-six-year gap between them. Comparing these events, the article draws attention to the ways in which the dominant ideology of these entirely different regimes influenced the interpretation of Shakespeare’s play and its staging.

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Secret Years

Hungarian Lesbian Herstory, 1950s–2000s

Anna Borgos

The article explores the personal narratives of middle-aged and elderly Hungarian lesbian women based on oral history interviews. The stories open a window into the Kádár era from a special perspective, allowing us to get a glimpse into the women's self-recognition and coming out process; their different (sexual, professional or maternal) identities, relationships, informal social scenes, and communities; their thinking about gender roles, as well as the available representations of lesbians over the decades. The women also discuss the freedom and greater visibility—as complex as it was—that came after the democratic transition. The article contributes more detailed knowledge about the situation of LGBT people in the region during the state socialist period and around the 1989 regime change.

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“Home Is Home No Longer”

Political Struggle in the Domestic Sphere in Postarmistice Hungary, 1919–1922

Emily R. Gioielli

This article analyzes the social history of the revolutionary and counterrevolutionary struggles in postarmistice Hungary as they played out in the Hungarian domestic sphere. Using court cases and statements made to legal aid bureaus in Budapest, it examines how elites and the middle class reasserted their social and political power by using legal channels and the threat of denunciation to seek revenge and retribution on domestic employees and neighbors. It also explores how revolutionary and counterrevolutionary politics affected conflicts over housing in Budapest. By exploring the gendered nature of transitional and retroactive justice in counterrevolutionary Hungary, this article shows the blurring of the line between personal and political violence. It also demonstrates that women played an important role in counterrevolutionary politics by assisting state efforts to reassert traditional social and political hierarchies in the domestic sphere.

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Entangled traditions of race

Physical anthropology in Hungary and Romania, 1900–1940

Marius Turda

This article discusses the relationship between race and physical anthropology in Hungary and Romania between 1900 and 1940. It begins by looking at institutional developments in both countries and how these influenced the most important Hungarian and Romanian anthropologists' professional and research agendas. Drawing from a wide range of primary sources, the article reveals the significant role the concept of race played in articulating anthropological and ethnic narratives of national belonging. It is necessary to understand the appeal of the idea of race in this context. With idealized images of national communities and racial hierarchies creeping back into Eastern European popular culture and politics, one needs to understand the latent and often unrecognized legacies of race in shaping not only scientific disciplines like anthropology, but also the emergence and entrancement of modern Hungarian and Romanian nationalism.

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Converging Suffrage Politics

The Romanian Women's Movement in Hungary and Its Allies before World War I

Oana Sînziana Păltineanu

This article focuses on the Romanian women's movement in Hungary before World War I and on its veiled suffrage politics. The first part of the article presents an overview of the organizational history of the Romanian women's movement from 1850 to 1914. The establishment of the Union of the Romanian Women in Hungary in 1913 constitutes a key event in this account. The second part of the article addresses the politics behind the Union and explores the converging suffrage politics of two more historical actors: the internationalization strategies of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA) and the suffrage politics of the Romanian National Party in Hungary. The article concludes that the Union's actions resembled those of similar organizations in Austria-Hungary that sought to join the IWSA, indicating that the Union may have been preparing to adopt a pro-suffrage position.