Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

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A Global History of Hungary: Concept, Implementation, Reflection
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Please join the East Central European Center and the Harriman Institute for a talk by István Deák Visiting Assistant Professor Ferenc Laczó.

The recently released volumes of Magyarország globális története (A Global History of Hungary) are the joint product of 159 scholars from a host of disciplines. Together, they explore the history of an East Central European country in a truly global perspective for the first time. The two volumes cover developments from the formation of the Pannonian Plain and the early spread of human settlement and agriculture, through the emergence of world religions and the era of European colonialism and imperialism, all the way to key issues in the multipolar and contested globalization of our days. This narrative arc already suggests why such a global history of Hungary may be urgently needed today: to reinterpret in a substantial and nuanced manner, for our age of manifold interconnections, the place and various roles of Hungary and Hungarians in the history of the world.

More specifically, the 203 chapters included in A Global History of Hungary capitalize on four key insights. First, East Central Europe has tended to be a semi-peripheral area in the global scheme of things, and it has thus been much closer to the global average than some of the parts of the world on which much of recent global historiography has focused. East Central European countries have also developed numerous and still underexplored intercontinental connections outside the Western core that should be of special interest in our age of global multipolarity. At the same time, it can be assumed that this diverse area, as a rather peripheral part of Europe in a formerly largely Eurocentric world, has played the role of a “secondary colonialist” for significant parts of modern history – a topic that needs to be researched in detail and critically scrutinized. Moreover, the predominant transnational orientation of this suburb of Europe has shifted repeatedly and sometimes dramatically, creating a complex pattern of legacies – or “continuities in discontinuity” – that can only be properly analysed through a transnational history on the longue durée.

In this presentation, co-editor Ferenc Laczó will reflect on the agenda to embed Hungarian history comprehensively in global frameworks. He will discuss the specific ways in which this agenda has been implemented, not least to explain how the contributing authors have taken up and adapted a recent Western European approach to historiography, what challenges this has entailed, and what opportunities such a process of adaptation to East Central Europe offers.

Ferenc Laczó (PhD, Central European University) is István Deák Visiting Assistant Professor at the Harriman Institute in the spring semester of 2023-24. He is a universitair docent 1 (with tenure) in history at Maastricht University and a part-time affiliate of the CEU Democracy Institute where he co-curates the Ideas section of the Review of Democracy. Laczó is the author or editor of thirteen books on Hungarian, Jewish, German, European, and global themes. His writings have been translated into 15 languages and his books have been reviewed in more than 50 publications.

Image: Fortepan / Erky-Nagy Tibor


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