Civil Society and the Return of Radical Nationalism in Postsocialist Hungary


ACLS Fellowship Program




The project explores how radical nationalist civil society organizations have played a decisive role in the reconstitution of national identity in postsocialist Hungary. Civic groups have been instrumental in reinvigorating the lexicon of radical nationalism that was widespread in the late nineteenth century and again in the 1930s. Ethnographic case studies of specific organizations (media, heritage tourism, national rock bands, and foreign currency mortgage debtor groups among them) show how this seemingly anachronistic symbolic repertoire has found new resonance in Hungarian public life, contributing to the right-wing radicalization of politics. More generally, the project highlights how exclusionary rhetoric penetrates mainstream political discourse by reconfiguring the boundaries between publics and politics.