Accepted paper:

Cultural intimacy and racism in local context: lessons on neonationalism from a Hungarian village


Margit Feischmidt (Center for Social Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

As part of a broader research aim to understand new nationalism in the context of local social relations this paper analyses the struggles of a Hungarian village to compensate social deprivation and to redefine politics using discourses on national culture, tradition and the racialized Other.

Paper long abstract:

The success of far right political agents cannot be explained by political factors only. Social explanations focusing on structural causes and the experience of deprivation are important interpretative frameworks, but they are not sufficient. In addition to these perspectives this paper proposes the examination of symbolic and discursive strategies which make national culture and collective memory the most powerful idioms of inclusion and exclusion as used by the far right. The paper analyses interviews and ethnographic data collected in a Hungarian village (Gyöngyöspata) where the far right party won local elections in 2011. It investigates a complex set of local relations creating a demand for far right politics strengthened by new forms of nationalism and racism. By doing so I am going to emphasize the collectively envisaged threat of social deprivation among postpeasant and postindustrial workers and their desire to strengthen their social position via constructing a collective self-image, an integralist worldview and an everyday racism embedded into a nationalist discourse. The social perception of Roma as threatening "aliens" is analyzed both from the perspective of the collective fears of majority and the everyday interethnic relations, producing conflicts and inequality for a longer period. The paper also investigates the aspirations, interests and activities of a local entrepreneurial elite which played a major role in recontextualizing the political into a nationalist framework and preparing the field for the rise of the far right.

panel P086
Cultural strategies and social conditions of neo-nationalisms in Europe