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Accepted Paper:

“I Will Be on the Next List”: Fear and Trust during Political Change in Budapest, Hungary  
Annastiina Kallius (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

This paper traces shifting dynamics of fear and indignation during the establishment of a non-democratic regime in 2010s Hungary. I argue that during a dramatic change of political order, biographical histories of power and violence result in realigned relations and new formulations of trust.

Paper long abstract:

How does sudden change of political system erode and reinforce trust? I examine this question in Hungary, where the ruling party Fidesz established a non-democratic political system in the 2010s. After securing a third consecutive supermajority in parliamentary elections in April 2018, a Fidesz-linked magazine published a ”blacklist” naming individuals who allegedly were agents of the billionaire-philanthropist George Soros. Claiming that Soros and his helpers planned to destroy European nation states by bringing in millions of migrants, Fidesz published a legislative plan entitled “Stop Soros!”, which posited possible prison sentences for people promoting migration. My ethnography traces Budapest liberal intelligentsia, where the blacklist caused a stir as people rushed to check who were named on the list. Some were scared, others proud, some shrugged off the entire episode, some wondered why they were not on the list, and yet others were sure they would be on the next list. Soon a voluntary list was drawn in solidarity of those listed, subsequently also published by the same magazine. What do these different reactions from fear and self-censorship to indignance and envy tell of dynamics of trust? I show how political transformation reveals people’s dormant, pre-existing relationship to power that in turn is related to individual and family biographies during a tumultuous century that has seen multiple violent political regimes. I argue that social fabric is redrawn as the relation between self and power eclipses other relations, simultaneously eroding trust by paralyzing previous social formations while strengthening others as new alliances emerge.

Panel P115b
Trust and Violence in Times of Political Transformation II
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -